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How Our Thoughts Affect Our Physical Health (Guest Post)

Some inspiration!!

Professionals Health Connection

When Women Inspire by Author Christy D Birmingham

I am delighted to share with you a post from a friend of mine, Christy Birmingham. Christy is an author and founder of When Women Inspire, a website where you will find poignant articles on a variety of topics that affect women of all ages. You can also check out her poetry books, Versions of The Selfand Pathways to Illumination. I think you’ll find her as fascinating and inspirational as I do. Welcome Christy!

How Our Thoughts Affect Our Physical Health Thought Affect Health
by Christy Birmingham

Thank you for having me over to Professional Health Connection today, Joan! It’s a pleasure to be here writing about health, which is a topic of deep interest to me. This guest post focuses specifically on how our mental state can affect our physical health, for better or worse.

About the Mind-Body Connection

Ah, the…

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Restless Leg Syndrome Arrrgghhh! The Down and Dirty


The quick down and dirty!  Just in case its 3AM and you’re legs and arms are twitching and you are ready to lose it!


We cannot operate on NO sleep, let alone deal with the stress of our bodies freaking out while we are not sleeping! I would find myself still pacing the floor when the morning alarm went off! So how do we even have a hope of  dealing with the resulting memory loss, “sorry I have no brain” and increased pain that comes with this lack of sleep and general crazy making .  It makes a healthy individual’s life difficult to navigate!

So…. from my hours and hours of late night research looking for answers, trying desperately to stop my mandatory committal to a “rubber room”.

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Here are a few points, a condensed version of what helped me.

I am not a Dr. and before starting any new medical approach, review these points with your GP and/or specialist and form a plan of action!  A plan gives control (kind of, thats what they tell me).  This article on RLS has an autoimmune slant.  If you do not have a chronic illness such as RA there may or may not be other things to consider.  There will still be many suggestions you can use!


  1. Identify your triggers: LOW IRON (RA affects iron levels) SPECIFIC FOODS, Too much or too little EXERCISE, INFLAMMATION (this is where RA again rears it’s head), STRESS  MEDICATIONS, NICOTINE, CAFFEINE
  2. Check your blood work: FERRITIN, KEEP YOUR level greater than 50, THYROID LEVELS, HORMONES
  3. Consider the role of FOLIC  ACID especially when taking Methotrexate which depletes Folic.  Increasing my Folic dose has had a big impact.
  4.  Can you and your chosen professional add any prescribed medications to help?



HERE ARE MY TRIGGERS  (things I envision bathing my nerves in irritants) which exacerbate my RLS:

1. Aspartame and artificial sweeteners

2. Too much exercise

3. Alcohol, Caffeine and Chocolate

4. Ice cream (go figure!)

5. HORMONES the night before my menstrual cycle

6. Inflammation: Flares, RLS worse a couple of days before my next biologic dose

Initially I cut out what I could from the above list entirely.  Once the treatment plan started to take effect, I started to play with when in the day and how much I could eat those specific triggers and started practicing moderation.  I was in this for the long term!



At least an hour before bedtime

  1. I take my daily Iron ( 2 tabs of PROFERRIN)
  2. I have increased my FOLIC ACID to 4mg at bedtime, except the night of my Methotrexate dose.
  3. Magnesium Citrate (best type utilized efficiently by the body) powder (1 scoop in warm water)

If my arms and legs start “going” before I fall asleep,  I get up and do a chair squat against the wall, fatiguing my muscles until I feel like I’m about to fall down.  I then return to bed and try again.

All of the above combined is successful 75-80% of the time.  Much better than my before treatment picture which was not sleeping 75-80% of the time.


Consider adding a prescribed medication  which should be determined by you and your physician.  You can decide together what would be most appropriate.  I added Gabapentin 🙂


RLS is not for the Faint of Heart, it really is crazy making at its best.  It is not easy giving up ALL your ‘fixes’  (triggers) but I know when you’re this desperate you might be more willing to try.

Hang in there 🙂  Please share if you think this will reach someone it could help! and like this post to give it a better chance to reach them!  and seriously if you have a tip that works for you…comment and save someone the energy they need to keep them upright and their face out of the mud.  Someone out there ( maybe you ) will always have the right answer. Thank you!


Increased pain and your cycle

You made it to late afternoon and you’re crabby, you want to “rip everyone’s head off”. You are feeling irrational and your are NOT a nice person to be around. Suddenly it dawns on you…
You are really sore!
This isn’t normal for you, if this is how it’s gonna be, you are NOT gonna cope! You start searching online… “What causes a flare?” “How do I deal with the pain?”


I feel this way almost every month… By the evening my pain is a 6 out of 10. I start feeling like I can’t do this! How am I going to look after my family, how am I going be a partner to my husband, how am I going to get out of bed and have a shower! I do manage to get through the evening whether I want to or not. Panicking just a bit, usually more than a bit with more than a touch of irrationality. I feel like I’m going to die! With the help of a warm bath, some Tylenol, NSAIDS and a hot pack, maybe even a walk around the block and then usually a less than stellar sleep. I figure it all out in the morning. I was in the premenstrual part of my cycle.

It’s a thing!!! You are not going crazy 😜 you really are having more pain than usual and now that I’ve seen it happen over and over it saves me a lot of ANGST! Angst leads to stress, stress leads to more pain, and it’s just a never ending vicious circle. Knowing this doesn’t take my pain away but it gives me an end to my misery… If I know it’s going to end, I can tell myself it’s only a blip. I can manage. I don’t know if this is a thing for you, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I’m interested to hear what you guys have figured out. Some of us are more in tune with our bodies (not me, in my constant state of denial) than others. Let me know I’d love to hear!!

Here’s a couple of links with a little more info:

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RA and Exercise

I’ve been on a roll, August brought warmer weather and vacation time off work.  Two things that seem to leave me feeling better, physically and mentally.  The pain was less and the fatigue wasn’t as overwhelming.  Cumulatively I had more time and energy. Yes!  I felt well enough to start hiking.

I know (in my head at least)   I feel better when I get outside. I used to run, 7 days a week 1-2 hours at a time and I’m still mourning that loss.  You’d think I’d be over it by now it’s been a few years ( 10 and counting).

It’s been working out so far, I’ve been hiking for almost 2 months.   But now the weather is changing, my holidays have finished and the extra energy I had to hike is fading.  How am I going to keep this up!!!

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Whether you're scrambling for the holidays, waiting on test results, or suffering from the seasonal blues – it's safe to say we all experience anxiousness in some form or another. In times of chaos, the last thing we want to  invest our time in is worrying about the past or future. In order to keep moving forward we need to be calm, focused, and present. . . . You don’t have to go to the gym to get the blood flowing. Practice an online yoga flow. Go for a run outdoors. Even a 10 minute walk or series of stretches will do wonders and is far better than doing nothing at all. . . . Whatever you do, in times of stress, worry, or doubt – just keep moving. You’ve got this! 👊🏼 . . . #winterblueswontgetmedown #SAD #anxiety #wellnesstips #movementismagic #moveyourbody #spirituallyfitgal #spirituallyfit #movementasmedicine #movementismedicine #loveyourbody #loveyourmind #wellnesswarriors #mindbodysoul #soulfulliving #yogaflow #mindfulliving #mindfullife #livenow #bepresent

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I’ve just turned the fireplace on, I’m cold and with the cold comes the ache. I’m heading to the kitchen to grab a couple of Tylenol it usually takes the edge off, I’m going to skip the NSAIDS as my stomach doesn’t feel like it can handle it today.  Once the Tylenol kicks in I will stretch and move GENTLY.  When I push a stretch or hold a position (as in Yoga) it actually makes things worse…


The videos below are the ones I’ve had the most success with. I just choose the exercises that most appeal to my aches and pains that day and only do 8-10 minutes of those exercises.  Relaxing while I stretch at only 50-75% of the effort they are doing on screen.  It is in this way I am able to continue…  as my tendons and joints don’t like new things!! I truly believe it’s because I’ve started so gently with the movements, and at a very low level of effort that my body has allowed me to continue to work on my range of motion.  I do not bring my shoulders above my head as they instruct… I listen to my body and if it hurts I don’t do it! I want to be able to continue doing this exercising thing.



1. Only 8-10  minutes to start

2 Performed at only 50-75% effort

3. Start slow, only every 2-3 days, hold yourself back!!

4. Don’t HOLD the stretch!  Gently move in and out of the movement while relaxing muscles.   Don’t push into any movement, no matter how good you think it feels.

5. You are just moving your body, increasing your range of motion.

6. Listen to your body, you want to continue doing this for life, not just today.  Don’t raise your arms over your head if it hurts.  If you can only bring them to your waist don’t move past that.  Don’t extend your arms straight if they feel better bent.  You will improve faster if you don’t push and go to the point of pain.  That is counter productive and you won’t be able to continue.

In the past I’d been thwarted at every turn!   But this mixture of tai chi, qi gong, and movement stretching ( not holding the stretch) has allowed my body to work again! It wasn’t until the end of the month I started increasing my  8-10 minutes. Essentrics Pain-Relief Workouts
Classical Stretch – Age Reversing Workouts for Beginners: Mobility & Bone Strengthening

These videos increased my range and strength and have allowed me my longest run of activity (hiking) injury free.  Now I have to adapt to the new fatigue with the change of season etc.  Do you want to hear more ways to cope and even thrive just click the”follow” button only 2-3 emails a month I promise! Next post Restless Legs and sleep!