Nicoles reflections after 2. therapy session

A metaphor is a good way to get an understanding of a problem. Here: Beating a Dead Horse as a metphor for how a lot of people try to push their body to far

Beating a dead horse
or taiming a petrified mare

One week after second session with Lilian and the Hope Shortcut

“Haven’t I tried everything?”

The computer screen before me contains two rectangular boxes, side by side. One containing the smiling face of Lilian Sjoberg against a dramatic mountain background and the other containing my image, just a blank white wall behind me. There is something about this new virtual environment where I get to observe myself from this vantage point. I get to look into my own eyes and see the expressions on my face. It is very revealing. I am slightly slumped in my chair. My eyes are squinted into slits with my smile. The thought “Here we go again” crosses my mind. I feel a fool. Haven’t I tried this already? Haven’t I tried everything? I have tried so many things, so many therapies, programs, practitioners, doctors. Honestly, I have had enough. I feel like I am kicking a dead horse. But, I know that Lilian is onto something. She has observed the patterns and made the connections. Lilian is sure, determined, generous and for some reason she is steadfast in encouraging me. Some part of me must have hope, because here I am.

Lilian is appalled at my use of the phrase “beating a dead horse” which I try to explain is just an English turn of phrase.  It is actually quite a gruesome image. She suggests a more hopeful way of looking at things. Yes, the horse has been abused, but we can rehabilitate it. Like Black Beauty, it can trust and be free again. Belief, hope and a positive image is so important for healing. I can’t make much progress if I see my efforts to heal as beating a dead horse.

The dead horse is actually me: my poor abused body that I have been dragging around for years, decades actually, pushing it and forcing it against its will, ignoring it, applying all sorts of remedies, treatments and therapies trying to fix it, and medicating it. The horse understandably, doesn’t want to get up.

Traumatic events are stored in the body

The surviver is the person that react with fear and run away or use the freeze instinct often.

The relaxed person get eaten very fast by the saber tooth tiger.

In modern world the brain is operating in the dark and still collecting information on when to react to survive the next attack from a predator.

If you want to get better accept this biological fact and learn how to get out of your instinct stress

I have felt shifts and changes since I last worked with Lilian over a year ago. My physical condition has deteriorated but I have become so much more aware of the emotional connections to my physical symptoms. My medication is not working as well and my “off” periods have worsened significantly. An “off” is when the medication wears off, or fails and the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease break through. With my symptoms more prominent, I can actually feel what is going on in my body. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, when in full force so clearly feel like a full-body panic attack.  Well actually for me, it is mostly the left side of my body that feels the attack. My body is in fear for its life. It tries to stop me by freezing my muscles, stiff so I can’t move forward. My stomach tightens into knots, my throat closes, my eye gets wide dart from side to side. My jaw clenches, my body heats up, and my limbs begin to tremble. It is so clearly a deep terror, panic, all-encompassing fear, like the climax of a horror film when the victim lets out the blood-curdling scream. 

It has also become so 100% clear to me that often my physical symptoms are worsened, or are preceded by a fearful thought or an emotional response, even something seemingly benign, like my son making a mess in the kitchen, my inner critic judging me, or a perceived slight from my husband.  I have also talked to other people living with PD and some of them have confirmed their own experience that emotional upset can trigger an “off”. This not to say that I can control my symptoms, they still come and go on their own schedule holding me hostage for longer periods of time and leaving me with smaller and smaller windows of respite.

Interoception - the forgotten sense

Your skill to interpret what is going on in your body is together with balance and coordination very important skills.

We do not learn about them in school. But the ones that instictivly can feel and use their sence interoception are the ones that fast can do something fast and stop the decline in health.

The ones that understand the language of the body can avoid longterm stress and longlasting  stress symptoms

It is actually hard to really admit this observation. I feel so weak and frail. Is my constitution so fragile that the smallest upset can throw me into a frenzy of whole-body fear? Surely it is not that simple. There are layers of genetic and environmental factors that led to the damage in my brain that causes this intense reaction.  Lilian assures me that it is actually evolutionarily appropriate that survival of the fittest would have favored a heightened fear response. So, in fact, I am an evolutionary survivor. She assures me that this is not my fault.

It is difficult to accept the responsibility that my habitual thoughts, emotions and beliefs may be contributing to my illness that has kept me disabled for so many years. But this is an important starting point- to recognize that physical disease symptoms are linked to thoughts, beliefs and emotions.

This creates a tricky balancing act. There is a fine line that you must walk between seeing the correlation between symptoms and thoughts as an avenue for hope and seeing it as a reason for self-blame. It is not so easy to say, “oh just think differently and your disease will go away”. It is not that simple. There are layers upon layers. It is beneath conscious awareness.

The horse within me perks her ears and opens an eye. She lets out a soft sigh. I am finally seeing her.

I am finally listening.

She is not getting up yet, but there is hope.

Lilian is an observer and a trouble-shooter. She has observed the patterns clearly. She has made the correlations. She has noticed that chronic illnesses are grouping of stress response symptoms, Parkinson’s disease being a particularly obvious one. The growing understanding in the world is that 90% of disease is stress related.

Lilian does not base her approach on foregone assumptions about the mechanics of Parkinson’s Disease. The rest of the PD treatment world relies on the assumption that PD is caused by a lack of dopamine and focuses on that. Lilian has looked beyond that. She looks at each person individually and looks at each symptom as an overactive symptom of stress. She has developed a multi-step program to begin to alleviate the symptoms of chronic disease. The beginning point is the recognition that there is hope.

Her method of healing involves several steps.

  1. Adopting a new belief system that the physical disease symptoms are linked to thoughts, beliefs and emotions. (HOPE)
  2. Catching stressful reactions (Observe symptoms)
  3. Other healing modalities that reduce stress.
    E.g. exercise and getting to the root cause of subconscious or habitual stressful triggers and solving them (Pacify stress)
  4. Adding power to your own journey  (Engage)

 

In my first session with Lilian over a year ago, she explained step 1. In that year (this is not a standard length of time between visits, it is normally one to two weeks), I have seen so clearly and experienced the correlation between thoughts, emotions and beliefs so acutely in my body. And so here I am and I begin again. Ready to look deeper, to see if I can address what is keeping my body in a perpetual danger response.

The horse within me perks her ears and opens an eye. She lets out a soft sigh. I am finally seeing her. I am finally listening. She is not getting up yet, but there is hope.

Change your beliefs

You need to have  supporting beliefs on your journey toward smaller symptoms:

Of course you can get better

Mind and body are connected and interact

If just one person in the world can get better, so can I

Here I am ready to look deeper, to see if I can address what is keeping my body in a perpetual danger response.

.

Nicole St. Arnaud
11. march 2021, Alberta Canada

This is the second of a series of blog posts on the progress in Lilian Sjoeberg’s Hope Shortcut program for chronic illness.

You can learn more about her program here

May Evers – Dancing

See this story if you want a better health

May Evers

“I was diagnosed in 2014.

Since then, I’ve been trying to come to terms with Parkinson’s. It annoys me that Parkinson’s and its symptoms are little known in the public and I am trying to change that.

I use a lot of time to find out how I can reduce my symptoms.”

Dance and reduce your symptoms
May found out that dancing 2x 30 minutes reduced symptoms.
She got diskinesia due to overmedication and have stepped down 30% in medication

Who is May

May here introduces herself and her way to smaller symptoms

  • She could feel she needed to move and start dancing 2×30 minutes a day.
  • Because of dancing she got diskinesia due to overmedication and reduced her medications by  30%
  • She has felt that needlework also calms her down. The monotonous work that needs your full attention is mindful.
  • Hiking is also the body’s natural way to a calm mind and body

Stiching helps as well

The many faces of Parkinson’s

A picture of hope May wants to make 185 embroidered portraits of people with Parkinson’s disease, put together, make a big face of hope. People are united by the hope of healing. What keeps them strong is the community.

“Take part in this adventure!

I am still missing a few photos of people with Parkinson’s so that I can reach my goal. I would be very happy if you would support me. Send a photo of you to dererstefisch@web.de, I will delete it immediately after processing.

Here you can see how many portraits I have finished, how many are currently in progress and how many I am still missing.”

Dance down in symptoms

May dance morning and after work.

Doing this natural movements help you to get out of your instincts.
If you are 100% calm you do not have symptoms.
Here you can see a video she has made about her dancing – an example.

The right belief

May try new therapies and excersises and listen carefully to her body to see what she can do to become more calm. This ability is called interoception and is an important sense of ours.

She understand that it take time every day to reduce stress.

Her job takes time from the most important thing to get better. But she is doing her best.
Now she use nearly 2 hours per day and 4-5 hours hiking in the weekent

Why not search for anything that helps and try it​

Tiphanie Gould-Gillespie

Draw – paint – art. The way to better health. It is possible to become better and reduce your symtoms from most diseases that are stress related as Parkinsons

Artwork as way out of stress and symptoms

Tiphanie Gould-Gillespie is one good example of how Parkinson’s is NOT a devastating disease. She used her diagnosis as a transformation to a better life.

Not only are her symptoms reduced to 20%, but she also chose to come off her prescribed medication, and she instinctively knew that she had to change her lifestyle completely.
She drew a line in the sand on her old life entirely. She challenged her own imperfections and learned to live with them through her artwork.
She had never painted before, but during the last year has seen Tiphanie has seen her art develop to a place where she can start to exhibit her works for other people to admire.
What could your challenge be?
She found that painting was a way of reducing her stress and leading to a more mindful life, whilst her Parkinson’s symptoms reduced considerably.

Hobbywork - Painting
- a way to a symptom free life

My past - stress

My world was perfect. I had a fascinating but full-stress job.
I was a high performing speech therapist
I start to have Parkinson’s when I was in the middle of all this, but I covered up my symptoms.
When my Parkinson’s got worse, I have to step out of my job. I had so many significant side effects that I chose to step out of medication, which was very hard.
I now consume zero medication.

"I have made a challenge to see what happes if I painted full time for one year."

tiphanie gillespie
On pause due to Parkinsons

Reeinventing myself

I need to do something to reinvent myself.

I instinctively knew that I must do something radical.

I transformed from being an extroverted business girl to an introverted artist.

I have never painted before as I have many talented artists in my family. I saw the painting when they struggled in life.
Little did I know that making art gives you a break from stress.

Being 100% dedicated to my art has given me confidence as an artist selling my art.

Being a hermit in my house for the last year has been fantastic for my mind and learning new skills.

I only make 2 social arrangements per week.

No one understands this, but my symptoms have been reduced the big time by this calmer lifestyle.
What a difference a year makes

Thiphanie have started to sell her art on posters and t-shirts

When I could not wear high heels, I could paint high heels

I looked at my old wardrobe with lots of buttons and gorgeous-looking decorations that made the clothes difficult when getting dressed.
I left the fashion style and now wear practical clothes, no makeup, and a simple hairstyle. I needed to let go of so many of my previous habits for dressing. I let go of old standards for how I needed to look. I feel a lot calmer, not needing to be the perfect version anymore.

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There is beauty in the broken.

I integrate the tremors in my art. When I have tremors and use the waves as an extra element.

Mental Health and the connection to Parkinsons

Mental Health must be truly understood for what it is.
Mental Health is literally at the core of all things mental, physical, spiritual, and political. Mental health is the core factor of every single choice as we move through the world. Every single interaction is shadowed by the state of our mental health.

Why not integrate your tremor into your hobby, and bend your definition of perfectionism

Nicoles reflections after 1. therapy session

Nicole’s thoughts after the 1st therapy session. How do Parkinson’s symptoms fit in with therapy? Listen to her thoughts

What I Wish Everyone Knew About Stress

The author behind the blog www.aslowerkindoflife.com shares her thoughts about life with Parkinson’s disease and about the
HOPE shortcut
The method where people with chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s can reduce their stress-related symptoms and, with persistent work, break free of their diagnosis

One week after first session with the Hope Shortcut therapy

“Life is bliss, but my brain is trying to convince me otherwise.”

I thought I knew it all about the impact of stress on the body and mind. I’ve studied this topic many times over the many years I’ve been searching for healing. I thought I had it dialed. I know that stress has real physical impacts on the body, that the stress response called Fight Flight or Freeze, can be triggered by the most subtle thoughts, and that society is totally hooked on stress. I know how to counteract stress through relaxation techniques. I know how to create new patterns in the brain.

This is what I wish everyone knew about stress

  1. Your thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions can be a source of stress.
  2. Stress has a real physiological impact on the body.
  3. Most of us are caught in a habitual state of chronic stress.
  4. Chronic stress can create disease states in the body and mind.
  5. A subconscious trigger can initiate the stress response.
  6. Counterbalancing the stress response in the body is essential to good health.
  7. What we do to “relax” may not actually be relaxing.
  8. Techniques like progressive relaxation, meditation, heart coherence, qigong, yoga, tai chi can create the relaxation response in the body and counteract the effects of stress.
  9. Exercise is beneficial because it burns up the excess cortisol and adrenaline in the body created by stress.

I know that my sensitive little nervous system seems to be highly attuned and highly responsive to even the smallest stressful triggers. I am aware of the common sources of unnecessary stress, and I have designed my life not to waste my precious energy on unnecessary stress triggers. I don’t watch the news. I don’t get involved in drama or gossip. I don’t have a packed schedule. I try not to worry about appearances or what other people might think of me. I no longer have a stressful career. I have a peaceful life, so I thought. I also thought I had already done the work to uncover unconscious stress responses. I thought I had mastered my internal critical dialogue. I had healed that aspect of myself that thought I had to do something extraordinary to earn love and acceptance.

I was wrong…

I recently met a Danish biologist named Lilian Sjoberg, who is helping people with Parkinson’s disease and other chronic illnesses reduce their symptoms by becoming aware of their stressful patterns and addressing the root cause. She has recognized that symptoms of Parkinson’s disease look a lot like an extreme Fight Flight or Freeze response.  I find this hypothesis quite accurate, and I started to recognize it in my own body.

Last summer, I was standing in knee-depth wading pool with my friend and our two-year-old sons.  We were looking up at a bird flying by, and I suddenly heard a splash. Her son had slipped and gone under the water. In a quick moment of mommy instinct, she grabbed him and yanked him back up. He came up sputtering, but he was ok. I held my son more tightly. Moments later, my Parkinson’s symptoms hit me with full force. Tremor, muscles freezing, movement slow, brain foggy. I realized that it felt like a full-body panic attack. After this incident, I became more aware of my symptoms related to fearful thoughts. Sometimes I would note an extremely subtle trigger in my thoughts, and sometimes I couldn’t tell what had made a sudden worsening of my symptoms.

I had offered to help Lilian to reach a wider audience with her important message. She asked me to go through her coaching process and write about it. I still thought I already knew what she had to offer from my previous studies on stress. I was wrong. On the healing journey, there is always more to discover.

The first thing Lilian asked me to do was to record my thoughts, emotions, and physical responses throughout a day. I was surprised how stressed out I still am.

Although I am retired from a stressful career, I am now recreating that stress and pressure in my home life. It’s because my brain got so used to stress and pressure that it is literally stuck. The hard-wired pathway in my brain for stress, pressure, and worry is like a superhighway. The one for peace and ease is like a rabbit trail through a dense forest. I am slowly making it more discernible through inconsistent practice.

Lilian’s exercise allowed me to see the direct physical effects on my body as the stress accumulated in the day.

Observe your symptoms

In the process of learning the HOPE shortcut you learn how to keep a diary that helps you to connect symptoms and stress in your life.

Initially the reason is to give you a new belief about the disease

Later it becomes an important tool to reduce your symptoms one by one

This is an excerpt of what I recorded in only one morning (B is my 3 year old son):

9:00 am: B. asks to watch a show.

My thoughts: “But shows are bad for his brain. I shouldn’t let him watch shows. I should engage him in enriching activities. What a failure I am as a mother…”

My body: My stomach tightens.

10:15 am: B. slouched in the car seat and staring out the window blankly.

“OMG. Is there something wrong with him? Does he have the coronavirus? Is he going to die? I feel so helpless. Should I drive straight to the hospital?”

My body: My left hamstring cramps and spasms. My stomach is in knots.

10:20 am: B. says he is hungry

“I forgot the snack in the fridge. OMG. Why can’t I get it together? How do other moms seem to be able to do this, and I can’t. I need help.”

My body: My jaw and facial muscles on the left side tighten.

10:30 am, I do not have B.’s indoor shoes for the babysitting room.

“I forgot B.’s indoor shoes. Oh no. Maybe the babysitter won’t notice. They have to let him in. What if they don’t let him in? Why can’t I get it together?’”

My body: My leg is fully dragging now. My tremor has begun. I am having trouble focusing.

I obviously have a body that is extremely sensitive and at its maximum capacity for handling stress already. Would these symptoms still have come on without my constant barrage of worrisome and self-critical thoughts? I don’t know. I did notice that my thoughts have me in a constant state of self-criticism and stress.

In my first coaching session with Lilian, she recognized that the habitual worrisome thoughts and pressure that I put on myself is a subconscious habit that I picked up in childhood. We work through using different techniques.

Since my session with Lilian on Monday morning, I am feeling a new sense of peace

I had a better day with B. today, putting less pressure on myself and becoming more aware of my stressful thoughts before they get out of hand. I am feeling more confident that I can take a little bit of power back from my roller coaster of unpredictable symptoms by recognizing my internal stressors and using relaxation techniques when they arise.

The research is now very strong that certain specific techniques that counteract the stress response and change the internal state of the body can result in significant health improvements.

I wish everyone understood the impacts of stress on the body: that thoughts can create stress, that the brain becomes habituated to stress and will seek out more, and that there are things you can do about it.

Nicole St. Arnaud
2. march 2020, Alberta Canada

Follow HOPEshortcut here

Quilting as a hobby

Diane Crowel and her hobby that helps her calm down her anxiety

Who is Dianne Crowel

Hi all

My name is Dianne Crowel (to the right).
I have had Parkinson´s disease for 5 years.

My symptoms are not too bad, so I can do a lot of the things I am used to.
I use Quilting as a relaxing and comforting hobby when my disease gives me anxiety.

Quilting
- a way to a calm life

Purpose

If you are Hopeless, the best thing is to get a purpose that reaches beyond yourself.

I quilt animals for people that have lost loved ones. I call them memory bears.

This job keeps me busy and makes the people so very happy to have something to hug. 

When I see how I can impact other peoples´ lives It gives me a good feeling as well.

Mindfull

Having a hobby means that you can always comfort yourself and relieve stress.

Your hobby must be so easy that you quickly develop a routine doing it, so you are slowed down in speed. And it is prefferable that it is a bit challenging so your thoughts do not wander anywhere else, to the past or future.
When you get to this sweet spot, it is as good as meditation. It is a form of mindfulness.

When your thoughts stay in the present moment, you will have fewer symptoms.

"I use my hobby to keep down my stress
and anxiety level"

Diane Crowel
Retired with Parkinsons

My work - Quilting

In the video I tell you a very short story about my work, my hug dogs and my quilts.

Feel free to contact me about my memory bears and hug dogs. It feels good to help other people in pain.

Just click on the video to the right and see 2 minutes of introduction to my Quilting world.

I have had Parkinson’s for about five years.

I am very convinced that the disease is stress-related:
I have had two bad marriages. My spouse was drinking and fighting me. It was terrible.

I have six kids, four boys two girls. The third boy has a cleft palate and has had several surgeries. Two have had terrible asthma.

Five of them made it and are all teachers. But one passed away two years ago. I have been having a hard time, but it is getting better.

Also, my symptoms get a little better as the anxiety reduces.

Socialize

I love working with my groups and doing what I can for them. Both online groups and local groups.
I do online cycling and yoga with Jacob. I want to do dance as well.

Sometimes a hobby comes with a social life, where you get the benefits from the joy other people can give you. We are social beings and we therefore thrive in supportive surroundings.

 

Be in the moment

My grandchildren are happy to help me with the quilts and you can see how they like to show the blankets to us.

Being around my grandchildren makes all fear fade away.

Why not slow down in speed

"When I am on vacation I have a lot less symptoms
I’m away from stressful things. Love to go."

Diane Crowel
Retired with Parkinsons

Quilting Questions

Iqniter – strenous training

A fantastic tool for measuring your heart rate and bike or run more intensive to burn off adrenaline and get smaller stress-related symptoms

Who is iQniter

iQniter is a Danish company who has developed equipment and software solutions for training in gyms and at home.

We are changing our profile, so we now also support individuals that struggle with severe conditions and symptoms.

Training helps whatever state you are in now. So if you step up for yourself and use the time to excersise, we can help you to succeed.

Strenuous training can reduce symptoms , reducing adrenaline

With the iQniter app you can train at home when it suits you.

Choose from 100´s of sessions prepared by leading instructors. Whatever the purpose of your training, you will find a session that suits you.

Based on your heart rate, the app helps you to optimize your training.  The points you collect while you train keeps you motivated to train so you succeed with your goals.

You need  your heart rate device and the iQniter app installed on your mobile.

Why heart rate training works

”It is only with the heart that one can see rightly”
quote from the story ”The Little Prince”.

The truth in this quote is also the foundation of iQniter. We have built our training platform based on your heart rate as it is the most precise human measurement of how well we perform during a workout.

By tracking your heart rate, iQniter guides you to perform better. If you train too hard the app will tell you to slow down and if you train inefficiently it will guide you to increase intensity.

All based on your heart rate

 

iQniter Smart Sensor Belt

This Comfortable heart rate sensor with a black belt in size M, is perfect for most types of sport. It can be connected to the app or bikes supporting Bluetooth when training in your fitness club or to other Bluetooth Smart devices when training at home (watches, mobile phones (iOS, Android, Windows) and their apps.

Whatever your sport is, iQniter Smart Sensor Belt measures your heart rate with great comfort and accuracy.

Train efficiently with your heart rate

Your heart rate is the best human indicator to show your how well you perform as it reacts within seconds to a change in intensity.

iQniter measures your heart rate from your device and based on the chosen profile tells you how well you perform.

If you lose intensity the arrow in the hygrometer will drop and instruct you to increase intensity and if the intensity is too high the app will instruct you to slow down.

The longer you stay in the green zone in the hygrometer the more efficient your training is.

NEW RESEARCH COLLABORATION

We are very pleased to announce that iQniter equipment and software has been selected to be used in a research project at Aalborg University.

The research project will study the cardiovascular effects of upper body rowing training in spinal cord injured wheelchair users.

We are excited to help spinal cord injured wheelchair users towards a better life.

Exercise with our app

With the app you have the following advantages:

  • 100s of programs made by professional trainers that help you to enjoy a varied efficient training.
  • A program that reacts to your heartbeat so you get instant feedback – are you doing too much or too little

Step up slowly in time and intensity to get your body fit and the adrenaline down.

Why not get out of fight, flight and freeze in the most natural way

Testemonials

“Streneous training is your natuaral stress down pill”

It will help if you use exercise as a natural habit to reduce stress and adrenaline daily.
I found that people who have recovered from a chronic disease used strenuous training as one of 4 strategies. So I always persuade the people I help with their chronic conditions to start some sort of sport.

I also found that it was difficult for people to get to a level that had a natural effect. Fitness centers are the best, but if the time or place is not there, Iqniter sensor belt helps people "get up in speed."
Lilian Sjøberg
“It ensures that I actually get my heat rate up, use energy and have an intense training session. When I have a specific goal or training program, then I strive to follow it.
iQniter keeps me focused and engaged. It is the opposite if I just use the training/spinning bike by myself without any app to guide me, then training often becomes much less intense.”
Sarah, iQniter user

Buy our iQnigter to help you to relieve stress in a fun and supportive way