Radical Self Care – When Life is Taking a Toll on Your Body…



This week I have flown over 20,000 miles to attend my brother’s funeral. It has been heart breaking and I feel like a shell of my former self. I’ll never be the same again. I learned the true nature of my powerlessness and what I am able to control. The buck stops with me, and my actions. Here I share how I coped with the great toll of long haul travel and emotional turmoil, which would normally be a recipe for unhealthy choices.


Radical Self Care..

As I have said in my recent post, about chicken soup, at times of emotional turmoil, I always turn to food as comfort. It is an ingrained behaviour that I have spent the last two years trying to change. It is the same neural pathway which finds me seeking reward to make myself feel better. What is addiction, other than trying to change the way I truly feel? For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to avoid my feelings. And recovery gives me space between the desire to avoid myself, and my behaviour and actions. I hope that one day, it will become instinctive to make the healthy choice, without question.


Radical self-care is paramount right now, at my most vulnerable. This is a time when I need to go back to basics: rest, sleep, nourish myself, attend meetings, keep talking and exercise.


Long Haul Travel

Along with the challenge of dealing with bereavement and its emotional chaos, I have experienced long haul travel. This week I travelled from the UK to Perth, Australia, and back in just five days!! This length of travel is usually spread over a two-week vacation, not five days. Travel for such a long period takes its toll on the body, which is why longer vacations are taken, to deal with its impact on the body and state of mind.


The effects are:

  • Lowered oxygen, circulation and sickness: you experience stagnated blood flow, leading to poor circulation and lowered oxygen levels;
  • DVT: pressurization, lowered oxygen and sitting for long periods leads to swelling in the legs and feet, headaches and travel sickness and a greater risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT);
  • Illness: your immunity is compromised and are 100 times more likely to catch a virus, due airflow in the cabin;
  • Intestinal issues: lowered cabin pressure, and sitting for long periods affect bodily gas. This leads one to feeling of bloated. It causes stomach/intestinal pain – as well as pain in the ears;
  • Poor complexion: due to low humidity, your skin loses moisture drying it out and worsening skin conditions;
  • Dehydration: you are said to lose 1.5 litres of water every 3 hours of flying;
  • Jet lag: leads to feeling fatigue, loss of concentration, irritability and it takes your body one day to adjust to each hour’s time difference!




The Most Loving Act…

It’s a wonder why anyone would choose to do this? I always said I would never travel to Australia, because the flights are far too long. I had little choice this time, because I had to be there for my family. To pay my respects. I had just five days of compassionate leave. I wrote this the day after I returned and I am utterly exhausted.


The most loving act I undertook was to spend a couple of hours preparing healthy and nourishing food for the flight. It would have been an easy choice to eat highly processed, over-salted, plane food, which lacks any or little nutritional benefit. I made buckwheat wraps stuffed with spinach, smoked salmon, avocado, lemon and pine nuts; berry breakfast balls (recipe below), goji and coconut bliss balls (see blissful recovery post) and packed some roasted almonds and cashews. I am confident that I recovered so quickly due to making these healthy choices.




Berry Breakfast Balls


Makes about 20 balls. Keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.



400g whole oats

100g raisins (or other chopped dried fruit)

50g smooth peanut butter (use organic)

50g desiccated coconut

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

2 scoops hemp or pea protein powder




  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Mix the oats, raisins, oil, desiccated coconut, peanut butter, maple syrup and hemp powder in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add 400-500ml boiling water until thick.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop, or large dessert spoon to create about 20 balls on the baking tray.
  4. Cook for 25-30 minutes until brown on outside.


Allow to cool completely.



Olivia Pennel is an experienced writer, content strategist, MSW student, and the founder of Liv's Recovery Kitchen. Specializing in substance use disorder, mental health, and recovery, I have published hundreds of articles and blogs, expert medical copy for addiction websites, and the entire body of copy for treatment center websites. She also works as a consultant content strategist to help organizations communicate who they are to increase their visibility within these markets. Olivia says, "I am most passionate about challenging stagnant and outdated perspectives about addiction and recovery. I hope to provide the resources to help people lead a self-directed and empowered recovery."