Old Enough to Know Better

Ouch my achy back, I’ve done it again!

It’s that time of year when my delightful small garden calls out for attention.  Given a fine day I’m more than happy to respond but I do get carried away with my enthusiasm. I know I’m old enough to know better, and I know I’m informed enough to prepare my ageing body for such an event by stretching it out.  Trouble is I only intended to prune a plant or two, cut back a hedge or two, or dig a patch or two.  But I ended up doing it all, scaling ladders to hedge, digging deep to plant, and heaving rubbish to tip.  End result…severe back ache which happens every spring. So when will I learn?

What to do?

My local Osteopath Mark, to whom I have resorted for sympathy and treatment, advises me to attack the garden for half an hour at a time, rest for 10 minutes, then attack again to help prevent problems. Of course keeping my back strong and supple is the best way to avoid getting back pain. Regular exercise, maintaining good posture and lifting correctly all helps.   Most times my back pain gets better on its own and I don’t feel the need to see a doctor. The pain usually lasts for a several days so I remain as active as possible and try to continue with my daily activities. I sometimes take over-the-counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen if I’m really uncomfortable, which usually occurs at night time.

Although it can be difficult to keep cheerful and to be optimistic when I’m in pain, I know it’s important to stay positive as this helps me recover faster. Of course I’m now religiously doing the stretches and movements Mark has advised me to do, and promising myself not to act so impulsively next time! Back pain isn’t funny but sometimes a little laugh helps, especially if you realise its bad news – when you get to the age your back goes out more than you do!

What better motivation do I need for doing my preparation exercises than that?

Question 1 STRESS

I know I am fortunate to have a busy life and shouldn’t complain but I find myself getting stressed out. My friends are losing patience and I know I need to get a grip. How can I stop panicking and getting angry, its irritating my friends?

Ruth Stein, Watford

Answer

Stress is an instinctive reaction for self-survival which automatically switches your body to a state of red alert.   So Ruth when you feel fear and your senses sharpen hormones flood into your bloodstream.   You breathe more deeply, your heart rate soars and your muscles tense ready for action.   Some stress is an essential part of everyday life and helps keep us out of danger.   For example we need to be alert when we cross the road.   But sometimes we all feel we can’t cope with our stress, even simple things make us “blow a fuse”.   Know the difference because this is distress and is detrimental to your health.   Pent-up feelings push up blood pressure and put a strain on the whole body including the heart.   So learn not to panic and find ways to reduce your stress levels

To be happy and productive you need to manage your life, have a positive action plan and take control.   Create a routine, set yourself realistic goals, and learn to prioritise and focus.    Don’t say yes to everything you are asked to do, you are only human, so guard your time jealously.

Ruth make a list of things that cause you stress and consciously try to relax and tackle the source of the problem wherever possible.  Gentle rhythmic cycling, jogging or swimming reduces tension; helps release pent up energy and encourages deep refreshing sleep.   Yoga, body conditioning classes and relaxation techniques are also helpful.

Question 2 DARK CIRCLES UNDER EYES

Hi Diana I have been very busy lately with lots of late nights and I haven’t been getting enough rest.  My problem is it shows around my eyes which look puffy and have dark circles under them!  What can I do to brighten them up!

Lucy Craig, Glasgow

Answer 2

Well Lucy I have a several homemade remedies to help with your puffy eyes.    Either you can apply cold, damp used tea bags to each eye, or slices of cucumber, or cotton pads soaked in witch hazel, or simply 2 cold teaspoons (all kept in fridge).  Give yourself time off, lie back, apply and relax for a soothing 10 mins.  All the above can work wonders!

With regard to the dark circles, they may indicate an excess of alcohol, cigarettes or coffee?  If that’s the case cut back!  In the meantime, try applying thin slices of potato or taking a brisk walk will get the lymphatic drainage system going to clear away the toxin build up, the cause of dark circles. Matt concealer helps disguise dark circles if all else fails!  If you have under eye bags you can again kick start the lymphatic drainage by tapping along lower eye socket with your fingertips – working from the inside to outer corner of your eyes.

Lucy you’ll soon be bright eyed and bushy tailed again!