Sleep and your mental health (Sleep your way to mental wellness!)

Another blog post written by our talented therapist Kavita Adatia.

Sleep And Your Mental Health

SLEEP, a simple five letter word, yet a vital activity that allows us to function at our best during the day, be productive, and think clearly. Studying the consequences of sleep deprivation is certainly not new. In fact, the first study in this area dates back to 1896! Although getting enough sleep is common knowledge as how important it is to eat our veggies, it’s an area many of us struggle with! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that at least 33% of us have some form of insomnia (not getting enough sleep) during their lifetime. The information below will explore the consequences of inadequate sleep, how mental health illnesses are worsened with lack of sleep, and most importantly, how we can develop sleep hygiene to lower and even prevent the negative consequences of not getting enough sleep.

MENTAL HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF INADEQUATE SLEEP

Sleep deprivation, even partial sleep deprivation is shown to worsen mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bi-polar disorder. Sleep problems are also more likely to affect those with psychiatric disorders compared to people in the general population. Poor sleep patterns can make us vulnerable to certain mental health disorders, and mental health illnesses also contribute to poor sleep.

DEVELOPING A SLEEP HYGIENE IN A FAST-PACED, MEDIA-DRIVEN WORLD

Though many of us are aware that sleep is important, it can still be challenging to get the rest we need due to a busy schedule, social media, and countless other things. An important way to address these challenges is to develop and stick to a sleep routine also known as sleep hygiene. Consider these following tips:

  • Sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends

  • Wake up at the same time every day

  • Put away all electronics and electronic geared activities 2 hours before bedtime. Being exposed to anything that generates light excites our brains thus making it a challenge to fall asleep.

  • Exercise early in the day but not right before bedtime. Studies show that exercise can contribute to restful sleep.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleeping. Do not put a TV, an office desk, or anything that can distract you from sleep.

  • If it helps, have a pre-bedtime routine. This may include activities before bedtime such as a bath, meditation, or light reading (a physical book not an electronic book).

  • Set your bedroom to a comfortable temperature, between 60 degrees to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Keep the bedroom dark enough to be able to fall asleep.

If you experience trouble falling asleep after 10 minutes, and implemented the above tips, move to another room and engage in a calming activity such as meditation or reading. It is important that reading material is something that will not excite and overstimulate the brain. You can also move to another room and sit for a few minutes before going back to bed. If you still have trouble falling asleep, consider talking to your doctor for further recommendations. Just like eating healthy, drinking enough water, and exercising; sleep should be a priority if we are to function at our optimal best!

 

FIVE EASY WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

We all get stuck, stuck in our thoughts, stuck in our routines, and stuck in our feelings. The invention of electronic devices often robs us of opportunities to experience the complex beauty of the present moment.  Though our bodies are physically present rarely are our minds. The term mindfulness was coined not too long ago, (1979), however mindfulness practice originates thousands of years ago from Eastern religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. Mindfulness is defined as intentional consciousness of our activities and surroundings.  Just by being aware of the sensory world around us, we experience mindfulness. Mindfulness comes with countless benefits including clarity of focus, decreased stress, lowered heart rate, and lowered anxiety levels. Mindfulness is one of my favorite counseling tools to use because with regular practice, it regulates anxiety, stress, and anger.  The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be incorporated into almost every daily activity!

 

EAT MINDFULLY

Something routine as eating can be turned into a mindful activity. Instead of eating your food in a rush, give yourself the time to savor the meal.  Sit down at a comfortable spot, and experience the taste and texture of the food. Allow your tongue to welcome any fusions of flavors from your meal. Most important when eating mindfully is to put away electronic devices. These devices only serve to distract us.

 

GET LOST IN THE FLOW OF WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING

My favorite time to get lost in the flow is when I’m cleaning or writing. Whether you like to clean or do something else, any activity you are immersed in is a great way to be mindful.  If you find yourself being distracted away by your thoughts, gently acknowledge it, and guide yourself to what you were doing. Mindfulness does not mean avoiding every thought, but observing these thoughts like passing ships and returning to the present.

 

TAKE MENTAL PICTURES

Many of us take countless pictures to share on snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, but how often do we fully experience the awesomeness of what is in front of us? The next time you are at a concert, a festival, or some other event, take one picture and then put away the phone. When you are not fidgeting with your phone to take the perfect picture, you allow yourself to experience the moment to its fullest.  Use your senses to snap “mental pictures” of your surroundings.

 

 

PRACTICE MINDFUL DRIVING

If you are anything like me, I have a habit of listening to music or NPR (National Public Radio) on my way to work. Usually I am present enough to pay attention to traffic lights and oncoming cars, but rarely do I drive in silence and observe all that is around me. The next time you are driving to or from work, take the first five or ten minutes of your drive to practice mindfulness. Take notice of your breathing, how your body feels, the road, and traffic around you. Check out this link: https://www.wildmind.org/applied/daily-life/mindful-driving for ten ways to practice mindful driving.

JOURNAL DISTRACTING THOUGHTS

Thoughts getting in the way of you being present? Write them down! Our minds get so cluttered with mind chatter; often we end up in endless cycles of thoughts that make it difficult for us to be focused on the present. Don’t think of what to write or how you are going to write, just write! Doesn’t matter if it’s scribbles, words, or phrases. Writing for five or ten minutes each night before bed is a great way to release any lingering worries and thoughts that may make it difficult to sleep.

Most of the activities listed above are ones we do on a daily basis.  The only ingredient which makes these activities into mindful activities is awareness. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean avoiding unwelcome thoughts, but rather acknowledging they exist and focusing back to the present.

 

8 Ways to Thaw Away the Winter Blues

Blog Post Written by Child and Adolescent Counselor Kavita Adatia.

If you feel lethargic, down, and energy is depleting like an old phone battery, you are not alone. Though winter months are accompanied with holidays, a new year, cozy sweaters, and delicious hot chocolate, it is understandably a hard time for people. A small population (about 4 to 6 %) is diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Individuals diagnosed with SAD experience a significant shift in their moods when the days shorten. Although you might not have SAD, it is not out of the ordinary to feel down and in the dumps during this time of year. Fortunately, there are eight things you can do to thaw away those winter blues. Continue reading to learn how:

1.      SPEND TIME OUTSIDE/LET IN THE LIGHT.

During winter months, days shorten and nights lengthen.  Though it might be cold outside, consider spending time outside when the sun is out. It is extremely common to feel like staying inside in on a cold and snowy day. However, doing so means we do not get exposure to the sun, and this is one of the ways we can get vitamin D. There are many fun things to do outside, and your town may have some fun local events planned.

2.      GET SOME EXERCISE

It can be tempting to stay idle inside, eat to our hearts content, and not be active. After all it’s cold, you are low on energy, and the thought of putting on all those layers of clothing to go outside can seem like a chore. Do not let the fact that it is cold outside keep you from your exercise routine. Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, in our brain. The release of this chemical works similarly to how morphine works in our body and triggers a positive response in our bodies.

3.      EAT NUTRITIOUS FOOD

A low mood and poor sleep habits can entice us to reach for those foods high in carbs and fat. Instead, keep a healthy and balanced diet during the winter months to improve those down in the dump moods. Your diet should include foods like lean proteins, dark chocolate, bananas, berries, turkey, berries, and foods with Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

4.      GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Adequate sleep is key when it comes to thawing away the winter blues.  Furthermore, eight hours of undisturbed sleep can help lessen low moods caused by the winter months. On the other hand, getting too much sleep can make us feel sluggish and more tired than usual. The solution is to keep a consistent bed time schedule and prepare an area that is conducive to a good night’s sleep.

5.      SEEK THE LIGHT

Light therapy is a very popular treatment for those who have SAD and can also help you if you struggle with the darkness that comes with winter. The bright light from a light box mimics the daylight from outside. If you are considering a light box for your winter blues, consult with a healthcare specialist or counselor to determine which light box best serves your needs.

6.      GET INVOLVED IN AN INDOOR HOBBY

Getting involved with a hobby can alleviate boredom and restlessness during the winter. If you used to write, draw, read, or do arts and crafts, and haven’t for a while, now is the time to resume. Winter time is also a great time to start something new, so if you have been eyeing that musical instrument you got for Christmas, now is the perfect time to start!   

7.      SOCIALIZE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

The winter months may tempt us to keep to ourselves, but spending time with friends and family may be just what the doctor ordered. Consider scheduling some time with people who energize and lift your mood when you are feeling down.

8.      SEE A COUNSELOR

If you still find yourself struggling with low moods during the winters and have tried everything such as light therapy, exercise, getting enough sleep, and keeping a balanced diet, talking to a mental health counselor can be a great next step. A counselor can work with you to determine the best ways to work with low energy and low moods, and can also customize a treatment plan that works for you. The most popular treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy which involves teaching you how to change your thinking in order to improve the way you feel. If you would like to see a counselor, head on over to: http://www.holdinghopeservices.org/about-us/ to schedule an appointment with one of our talented and caring clinicians!

 

 

 

 

Let Go Of Envy

Envy creeps into all of our lives from time to time. Recently on social media I saw someone’s successful project of something I really am interested in completing.  For just a second (or two) petty Julie thought “I’m not going to like that post” as if the person even cared or as if I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself for letting envy get the best of me.  Thankfully, my better angels prevailed and I liked the post because I do wish others well and hope for people to be successful.  I reminded myself of these three things to help tamp down any envy.

·It isn’t for you.

Whatever you may be seeing and desiring of someone else's – it isn’t yours and it isn’t meant for you.  I remind myself that it is OK that others have things I don’t or have an easier time in a situation than I do.  What others have is not mine and has nothing to do with me.  They have their journey and I have mine.  Someone else’s triumphs do not take away from anything I have.  I am not less because someone else has more or has done more than I have.  I only need to concentrate on myself, what is mine and what lessons I am here to learn.

Do not judge or compare to other people’s highlights.

Many times, we are guilty of comparing ourselves to others.  Look at any social media and see all the happy times.  Sometimes it is like everyone is winning some award, or reaching some milestone or getting to go on some adventure and you might feel left behind.  Remind yourself that social media posts don’t give the whole picture.  The post may not tell you all the hours the person worked or obstacles a relationship struggled through or all someone gave up to save for their adventure.  Someone’s highlights is not the whole picture.  Even when talking with family and friends, there are likely pieces you aren’t seeing.  Focusing on what others have that you don’t, especially when you aren’t seeing the whole story is time wasted.

·         Have an abundance rather than scarcity mindset.

Focusing on what others have that you don’t is a scarcity mindset.  It is a feeling of fear that there isn’t enough to go around and somehow you are going to be left behind.  A scarcity mindset can lead to fear-based decisions and being disgruntled about all you don’t have.  Conversely, an abundance mindset is understanding that there is enough for you.  Once someone believes that what they are supposed to have they will have, the easier it is to be open to the possibilities and actually allow what is meant for you into your life.

 

Next time the envy train is trying to get you aboard, remember these tips!  If you’d like help living your best life, feel free to check us out at www.holdinghopeservices.org.

Three Tips to Declutter Your Mind

Three Tips to Declutter Your Mind

Sometimes it feels like the world is so full of clutter.  There is noise in the streets, social media, and a house full of stuff. It can be overwhelming. I have found some simple ways to declutter my life that hopefully will help you as well. There is nothing like a clean house and a clean “world” to give you peace, allow you view your life with hope and be ready to face whatever struggle comes your way.

Compassion will aid your healing

I love the idea that compassion will aid in healing our sorrows and broken places.  I bet you are a compassionate individual - with everyone else - and forget to show yourself compassion.  Grieve for your broken places and show them compassion and love and your healing will accelerate. 

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March is Social Work Month

The definition of social work is "Work carried out by trained personnel with the aim of alleviating the conditions of those in need of help or welfare."   I love being in a profession where I am expected to stand up to injustice and advocate for people to live the life they choose.  I love having the honor to work with so many amazing individuals as they strive toward living their best life.  Happy Social Work Month!