Hip Openers

I’ve had problems with my hips for a while, almost certainly because I spend so much time sitting at a desk. But lockdown is worse, because I’m moving around even less than normal.

  • Yoga video of suggested hip openers, for people who spend all day sitting down.
  • Here’s my attempt to describe them in words I’ll understand (so I don’t have to watch a video every time):
    • Wide-legged child, same as child but with knees apart, hips sitting on heels
      • or lie on back, holding knees apart and pulling up to chest
    • Low lunge, knee over ankle, back knee on ground
      • or half happy baby lying on back
    • Lizard, like low lunge but with foot on outer edge of hand
      • you can roll the front leg outwards if you like - make sure to flex at ankle and rotate hip, knee and ankle all in same direction
    • Pigeon lunge on the ground
      • or the gentler alternative, lying on your back and doing eye of the needle
    • Warrior 2 pose (front foot facing forward, back foot parallel to back of mat, head facing over front foot, arms out, gaze wide, front hip knee and ankle aligned, squeeze into the mid line) hip yoga

Muscle Cramps

  • Things to try
    • Eat more salt!
    • Eat more potassium

Mental Health

See also Staying sane during the COVID-19 crisis below.

  • Great article by Olvier Burkeman, “Eight secrets to a fairly fulfilled life”

  • The ugh field - how to get better at doing those tasks you keep putting off (not the ugh response as I previously thought).

  • Random bits of pop-psychology advice that may or may not be useful:
  • The ring theory of how to give support to people at the centre of a crisis and ask support from outer rings when you need support to help you support others.

Eating disorders

Apparently a great book for parents of people with eating disorders is the book Anorexia and other eating disorders, by Eva Musby. It contains scripts of what parents should say (because it’s very hard to get that right, and horribly easy to get it wrong. Simply commanding or begging or wheedling for your child to change their eating habits is unlikely to have the desired effect).

Also apparently the organisation Beat are extremely useful.

I heard about both of these because they were recommended by Caitlin Moran on the “The Making Of” podcast.

COVID-19 / coronavirus / Sars-CoV-2


Staying sane during the COVID-19 crisis

Nice things to do during lockdown

Positive stuff

Meg John and Justin: Podcast and Resources on Stress and Coronavirus


Countering burnout

  • This is a really interesting podcast about burnout, talking about how when you are in a position of stress you need to “complete the stress cycle” to allow your body to process the after-effects. If you don’t then you get stuck in a neverending stress tunnel and that’s when burnout happens. It’s Brene Brown interviewing Emily and Amelia Nagoski about their book Burnout.
  • Here is an article describing the things you can do to complete the stress cycle.
  • Here’s the list of things you can do to help your body recover from stress (more detail here):
    • Physical activity (anything at all, just get moving)
    • Slow deep breathing
    • Positive social interaction - can be as simple as complimenting somebody on their hair
    • Laughter - proper belly laughs with someone else, or even just reminiscing about times you laughed together
    • Affection - they recommend a daily 20-second hug or a 6-second kiss! It has to last long enough to dissipate your stress.
    • Crying - where you focus on the sensation of crying and try not to perpetuate it by dwelling on the thing you’re crying about
    • Creative expression - which can be as simple as imagining a little story where you fly over the top of a stressful thing - but doesn’t have to be directly related to the source of stress.

Unfuck your brain

  • Coping with pandemic panic - free session from Kara Loewentheil (“Harvard law school grad, feminist rockstar, and master coach”).

I found this really helpful, but it’s worth saying that Kara Loewentheil’s style doesn’t work for everyone. In a nutshell, she’s saying that you can’t control what’s happening in the world, but you can control how you react to it. Death and sickness have always been present and have always been things that could affect both ourselves and our loved ones. It’s never been helpful to worry and obsess over those things, but because right now everybody IS worrying and obsessing over it, there is an unstated pressure to join in. Resist that pressure. Do everything you need to do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but take those actions out of love instead of out of anxiety.

If you don’t find that Kara’s style works for you, don’t feel bad! Turn it off and try one of the things below instead.

Control what you can, accept what you can’t

controlling covid-19

Don’t put pressure on yourself to become super-productive

My experience of anxiety

APPLE technique to deal with anxiety

AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

  • Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the anxious thoughts as they comes to mind.
  • Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and any apparent need to know exactly what will happen next is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to it. You might imagine it floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.

ODAAT - One Day at a Time

This is an edited version of a description of this technique from my friend Lou:

“In order to stay calm, you have to be calm one day at a time. I find it a great way to ground myself if I’m starting to live in the future (futile, not happened yet) or past (not helpful as can’t change etc) That’s not to say that you shouldn’t plan for the future or neglect the lessons of the past but by staying in our head there, we’re not present in the place where we actually have some control.

Here’s an example. Say you plan to have a re-decorated sitting room by the end of this period of social distancing / wfh / isolating.

Your locus of control is now - that’s where you order the paint / brushes and other things you need. It’s also where you do the painting. Reminiscing about how you didn’t order enough paint last time, or daydreaming about how it will look when finished are exercises of the mind - they don’t help you achieve the actual task. Likewise beating yourself up about how you fuck ed it up last time or telling yourself that you are shit at DIY and therefore being scared to start is another future dwelling pointless exercise. Things that would be of use like “ I did Y last time and it resulted in unwelcome X - perhaps if I try A it will be better” is a more helpful way of framing / planning, and is useful.”

Try to pay attention to the positive things you have achieved each day, and give yourself some acknowledgement for those things. And be kind to yourself when circumstances make it hard to follow any kind of plan.

Don’t Worry

One of my favourite poems, by Julia Darling, one of my favourite poets:

Don’t Worry

about the food you haven’t bought,
if your daughter caught that train,
the bill that came, the twinge
in your right leg. Don’t fuss.
The washing on the line
will dry again. It’s not your fault
So what if you lied?
Don’t be ashamed.

And don’t worry that you promised.
It doesn’t matter about those promises. Let them go.
Just tell her you don’t like her if you don’t.
You needn’t see the doctor with bad breath.
Behave badly. Lie on the floor.
Throw a tantrum if you’re bored.
Be late. Be sordid. Eat six pies.
Or trick them by being euphoric.

Above your head a flock of geese
are flying South. Beneath your feet
worms aren’t worrying.

NB: This collection is months old now. Do you really need to follow these links? Maybe you’d be better off finding something more calming to look at.

Older covid stuff you probably already know

Running and knees


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I highly recommend Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker. Full of very useful science and facts about how sleep works, how important it is and how to get more of it.

The book contains a handy list of things you can do to improve your sleep - see the image below. The list is reprinted in the book and was originally published here (follow the link then scroll down to page 20).

Personally, I follow the following advice and it has made a MASSIVE difference to myn energy, motivation, mental and physical health.

  • In general:
    • I now have a consistent sleep schedule 7 days a week
    • I avoid alcohol, food, liquid and device screens close to bedtime
    • I aim to be in bed 8.5 hours per night (aiming for 8 hours sleep)
    • I avoid caffeine (including decaf, which is not caffeine free) in afternoons and evenings (7 hours before bedtime)
    • Keep the bedroom cool
    • Low lighting at bedtime and night light outside the bathroom so I don’t need to turn the light on when I go to the loo during the night (light wakes you up)
    • Pay heed to my chronotype (ie lark vs owl). This is biological and innate and important. Larks need to go to bed early and get up early. Owls need to go to bed late and get up late. Capitalism be damned. I’m an owl, so I now refuse early morning meetings and will not get out of bed before 9am.
  • If I wake up and can’t get back to sleep:
    • Relaxation exercises
    • Meditation
    • I have a couple of little tricks that I invented and work really well for me:
        1. I have a teddy bear next to the bed, I cuddle it and imagine that it’s myself as a small child. I’m giving myself unconditional love and kindness and banishing all self criticism.
        1. Word association: I list random words and phrases in my head, no rules, just free association. Focus on that and only that. It seems to put my brain in a creative dream space and often morphs into dreams.
    • If it’s prolonged, get out of bed and have a hot bath in low lighting.

Sleep tips

Colonoscopy / Sigmoidoscopy

  • Detailed notes on my experience here (accessible to Clare only, but happy to share if you want me to).

Menopause and Perimenopause

Food and inflammation

Zoe podcast on inflammation after eating:


Top tips for hayfever sufferers (courtesy of Jane / Digger):

  • Put a sheet over your entire bed in the morning after getting up and carefully remove it before you get into bed. Pollen settles throughout the day (but especially in the evening) so it will settle on the sheet and not the bedclothes that you sleep in / on.
  • A bit of vaseline around the nose will catch a lot of pollen so it doesn’t go up your nostrils
  • Wearing glasses / sunglasses can reduce pollen getting into your eyes
  • Try and keep bedroom windows and doors closed (if it’s hot then keep curtains closed too to keep the room cool) during the day, open them at night.