physical activity & exercise

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Light box use for energy levels?

Postby soulpoet on Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:31 pm

I was diagnosed with M.E by the lovely Professor Pinching in April 2011, but he was certain that the illness started with severe labyrinthitis in Mar 2009. This also fitted my pattern of physical and cognitive decline. He told me about pacing and gave me a book to take home. Pacing has helped me gain both acceptance and a way to manage this insidious condition, as I've been largely housebound for well over two years, unable to cook, do housework, drive, shop and so on - who would have thought 5 years ago I would actually miss doing ironing?!
By last autumn, after what I thought had been a slow but steady improvement over the previous six months, in that I was managing to get out for short slow (with a stick and moving like a tipsy octogenarian) walks perhaps once or twice a week on a 'good' week, I had a rapid decline in muscle strength and worsening energy levels. On Boxing Day I crashed, and have been 'clawing' my way back since, purchasing a wheelchair this February, which my partner takes me out in when I'm able to go out, and I can walk a little, but am still physically much weaker than this time last year.
My GP mentioned buying a light box to perhaps try this winter, but did not make it clear how it would help. The past 3 spring and summers I have noticed a remarkable temporary improvement in my energy and pain levels if I'm able to get outside in the sunshine and or fresh air. After last winter's crash, I'm willing to try anything that may have helped fellow M.E folk, but funds are limited and I have found very little info on the Internet that links light boxes to people with M.E. I would be very grateful for any suggestions...
Katherine
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Re: Light box use for energy levels?

Postby Jessica Bavinton on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:56 pm

Dear soulpoet

I can't comment specifically why your GP would have recommended trying a light box, but the rationale I know is to do with the body clock. The body clock describes an (approximately) 24 hour cycle that all human beings go through and is (at least in part) responsible for feelings of wakefulness and sleepiness, bowel habits and hunger. When we are unwell, the body clock is often disturbed leading to symptoms.

The body clock is 'set' by a range of things, but light is one of the most important. e.g. - we naturally feel more wakeful during the day because light has triggered the waking response, and the reverse for night-time. So, part of re-structuring sleep patterns involves supplying light at the right times.

Re: light box - nothing can replace actual daylight - so if you are able to, go to sit by a bright window as the first thing you do when you wake up, and keep lights off at night time.

If you are unable to get to a window, then at very least get the curtains opened, turn the lights on and perhaps use a light box.

I can't recommend any particular brands or links, but the output should be at least 10,000 lux for this to have any impact. People trying a light box should sit under a metre away from it, and use it for at least 40mins during the first hour after waking (this could be 2 x 20mins)*

Of course, there are other reasons why you'll feel better outside - connection to the outdoors, light, sunshine, social, nature etc - but also you'll get more vitamin D, which is almost always too low for people who are largely housebound. If in doubt, get your GP to test for it.

*With thanks to the Papworth Hospital, Sleep Clinic
Jessica Bavinton
Specialist Physiotherapist
BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy, MCSP, PVRA, HG (Dip), MBACME
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Re: Light box use for energy levels?

Postby Adam Eason on Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:18 pm

Though supported by only limited clinical trials, there are some mental imagery techniques that have been used to enhance energy levels. Of course, only in conjunction with your advised medical care.

The notion is that of an 'ideo-dynamic reflex' - translated, this simply means that we often respond physically to things we imagine vividly. Therefore, if you respond well to sunshine and fresh air, then before you get out of bed in the mornings (or whenever you tend to get out of bed, excuse the presumption) you could engage your imagination, associate with and use cognitions to advance your belief in a sunny scene; for a neat way of getting started before you encounter the real thing. Especially useful when the days are shorter in Winter.

With my own field being clinical hypnosis, it is tough to avoid the subject - when such a process is done in conjunction with a good self-hypnosis protocol, the process is usually considered much more vivid and individuals are more responsive to it.

It may be an avenue to explore.

Best wishes, Adam.
Adam Eason
Clinical & Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist

http://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/online_clinics/experts/adam_eason.php
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Re: Light box use for energy levels?

Postby soulpoet on Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:40 pm

Dear Jessica and Adam,
Apologies for replying to you both at once, but I could not find how to reply individually on the forum page.
Many thanks to you for the advice. I will certainly check on the vitamin D situation, although I have been taking the recommended dose of D for the last 16 months, along with magnesium and other vitamins. Although not generally able to get out of bed for very long much before mid afternoon at present, and many still ' boudoir' days, I will certainly try to sit near a window if able, later in the day if unable to go outside, and try a light box for the mornings.
As for Adam's suggestions, they are particularly interesting because I have meditated daily for years, mainly focusing on the breath, but only sometimes using visualisation for trying to relax/distract myself from pain, discomfort and exhaustion; or imagining being outside in nature somewhere as a deliberate distraction from being housebound. The 'sometimes' is because; although I get pain etc daily; I do find visualisation much harder than focusing on the breath as it feels like a lot more mental effort involved, which is 'challenging' when brain fog is present! But the sunshine and outdoors thing is certainly worth exploring.
Again, thank you both
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Re: Light box use for energy levels?

Postby Adam Eason on Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:55 am

I empathise with you regarding the effort required to actively engage in some kinds of cognitive strategies and mental imagery, it is a common response I receive from people having similar experiences of ongoing pain that you cite.

When we have a real life experience to draw upon, it does tend to make it a lot easier - especially if you paid attention to that experience. Therefore, if and when you have wonderful experiences that enhance your feelings of well-being, choose to pay as much attention as you can to it; being aware of even the tiniest of sensations, thoughts, feelings etc. Then you'll be more readily able to access that when you engage in mental imagery processes.

But not so much that it impairs your enjoyment, of course :D

Best wishes, Adam.
Adam Eason
Clinical & Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist

http://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/online_clinics/experts/adam_eason.php
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