As I look back over my journey through 2022, I can sit here and smile, a smile of calm, a smile of happiness and a smile of pride.
2022 was my year! I know it's a cliche, but it was.
The year 2022 was about me playing the leading role in my chick-flick movie. A movie about calm, self-care, self-love, being kind to myself and tuning into what my body requires to be the healthiest version of myself I could be.
I wasn't feeling particularly well during 2021 and entered 2022 with my graves disease in the worst possible state. For the second time, the doctors suggested that with my levels spiking so high, I am looking at radioactive therapy as my only hope to completely rid me of the "major" complications from this disease.
It was time to find a balance and a lifestyle to continue for the rest of my life, not just when it's active.
Knowing that it was back, I instantly made changes. After the lockdown of 2020- 2021, my diet had gone a little haywire! My stress levels had been up and down like a roller coaster. I had to take the news as a 'little' reminder to get my life back on track and work on myself. My business had entirely taken over, and I threw myself into every job that came my way after the stop-starting from isolation periods.
I sat down to take a hard look at my diet and had a good old google about graves disease. What else could I find out, because last time I didn't really know as much as I do now? What extra changes can I make this time that I didn't know about it last time?
Here are 7 changes I implemented into my life throughout the past year for a healthier happier Hayley.
1 I cooked healthy food.
My blood tests showed mineral deficiencies which is very common in autoimmune disease, but I wasn't tested for that previously. I spent my weekends researching foods to help get me in a healthier balance, and ways to get as many vitamins into my diet, so it was one less pill to take. I educated myself on how foods can fuel my body and what foods can make my condition worse. Some foods may seem healthy, but a little too high or too low in iodine and certain other elements can trigger a flair-up. I remembered how much I loved herbal tea and stocked up to relax, calm and help keep my antibodies from going haywire. ( I will talk more about this in my next graves update) I upped my protein, eliminated sugar where I could and cut down on high carbs. I switched alcoholic drinks to alcohol free, from time to time, and reduced my caffeine intake.
2 Worked Less!
I rested more and reduced my workload. I took on fewer weddings than I was planning to. I worked fewer hours and cut my evenings down. Hairdressing is a physical job and takes a toll on my body, long days with little rest weren't helping. I have created a healthier schedule to work from with plenty of rest. When you work for yourself it's hard to find that balance between rest and work as you never really switch off. But health always comes first.
3 Made time for Self-care
I spent more time on myself, looking after my hair and skin. I stuck to my skincare routine no matter how tired I felt. Graves disease really effects my skin, and if I feel tired, I look tired. This time my skin has been substantially better, clearer and brighter than last time.
My hair loss was shocking! I lost handfuls every time I washed my hair. Previously I suffered from hair loss, but not to the extent it fell out this time round. I avoided adding heat, tied it loosely and started wearing my natural curls again. I Booked a weekly schedule to do my hair when I really had the time to care for it.
4 Read books.
I read books, probably more self-help books than fiction, but it was a year of self-help and improving my body and mind in any way that I could. I forgot how much I love to read. When I was younger I was an absolute bookworm, always with my head in a book.
Thyroid brain fog and the fact that my brain and body are working so fast can make it nearly impossible to focus long enough to read. I can read the same paragraph over, and over again, and still not understand the words that were written. Because of this, it had been years since I had actually read a book cover to cover. I couldn't concentrate for long enough to finish a book, I would give up and move on to the next one. Last year I read 11 books instead of my measly 1 book, ( the usual beach book whilst I sunbathe on holiday). That's a vast improvement, and any movement forward is a step in the right direction. Reading is a skill I love when my mind slows down enough to let me. It's a great way to escape reality, immerse yourself in a completely different world or learn something about yourself and the world we live in.
5 Explored the outdoors
I exercised when I could, which can be challenging with joint and muscle pain, and fatigue. If I was feeling a little too tired for a workout or felt that my muscles wouldn't be able to lift that weight, I walked.
I made sure I was walking everywhere. Walking is always good for my soul. I'm a classic Sagittarius, an adventurer. I feel so much calm and at peace when being outdoors. It helps clarify and resets your mind.
I don't look at my phone. I walk, think, and look around and see how beautiful the world really is.
6 Spent quiet nights in.
I instantly look back over my diet and eating habits. I know since the isolation periods, I had gone completely off track.
I spent my weekends relaxing, sleeping, readying and doing whatever I wanted to do that day.
I adopted a better sleeping pattern. It is hard when you are a wedding hair and makeup artist to create a regular sleeping pattern when some mornings you may be up at 6 am and others you may be up at 3.30 am. I tried to find the balance and started to wake between 5-6 naturally on days I wouldn't have to be up.
7 Eliminated negativity and tried to limit stress.
I tried to surround myself with positive vibes and people that helped lift and support me. It's tough to feel positive with graves' as your moods are affected by your hormone levels. A high can be really high as your body moves a hundred miles per hour, and your lows can be dramatic. I tried to keep my moods on an even keel. This time I barely got the "graves rage," instead, I was highly emotional watching a film or even just seeing someone eating alone in a restaurant. Anything like that would make me shed a tear. I eliminated everything that would upset me, stress me out or create a bad vibe. I tried to make life as easy as I could.
2022 taught me to be calm and still in a world that never stops. To enjoy life as it is in the moment.
It showed me that I need quality time with friends in a relaxed environment. I would pick a coffee and cake or a home visit over a night out on the town.
That spending time with family really is the best medicine.
I might not have gone out as often as I previously would have and slept most of my free time, but I don't feel like I have missed out on anything this past year.
I finally have found my balance and learnt what to do for myself if life gets a 'little' uncontrollable.
It took me until after the summer when work started to quieten down to get me to where I wanted to be. Change doesn't happen in a day, it's a step-by-step process that I will continue throughout 2023. I am gaining control of my life again. I only have one chance in this world, so why would I want to live it any other way than healthy, happy and in control.?
It's Graves awareness month this January I will be updating my latest results at the end of the month.