Adjusting Your Nighttime Routine: Tips for Better Sleep and Good Mental Health
For those people who struggle to get a good night’s sleep, have you considered that you might be your own worst enemy? There are some definite do’s and don’ts to observe, which include important measures that have a direct effect on your ability to sleep and maintain good mental health. Consistent, restorative sleep is closely tied to mental health when you’re tired, your mood suffers, you’re impatient, and you have trouble concentrating. Consequently, your sense of well-being is compromised, and symptoms of depression and anxiety may occur as a result.
What’s more, sleep is especially important for people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. Sleep has a powerful healing effect on the body and mind, bolstering the immune system and strengthening your metabolism. It also improves your mental outlook, an important factor in recovering from the ravages of addiction.
Consider the following points if a lack of sleep is affecting your mental condition and ability to function on a daily basis.
Observe a Sleep Schedule
Many of us get to bed only when our daily responsibilities have been completed and, as such, fail to get the necessary seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Your body functions best when you follow a regular schedule, and going to bed at the same time and waking up every morning at the same time is the best way to recalibrate your internal clock. Also, stick with your sleep schedule through the weekend and on holidays so as not to disrupt your sleep schedule. Eventually, your body will fall into line and let you know when it’s time for bed.
You can’t expect to climb into bed and fall asleep straight away if you’re experiencing sleep deprivation and insomnia. It’s important to spend an hour or two winding down, so prepare yourself to sleep by observing relaxing habits such as reading a book, taking a hot bath, or engaging in meditation. These activities can calm your thoughts and slow your heart rate, both of which are necessary for you to feel sleepy.
Insomnia can be a serious problem, leading to both mental and physical complications. If it persists, it might be time to take a close look at your sleep environment. People often make the mistake of leaving a TV or computer screen on at night or keeping a smartphone on the nightstand. These are disruptions that can prevent sleep. What’s needed is a dark and quiet environment, so consider installing blackout shades and using a white noise app or machine to mask any disruptive external sound. Pay close attention to the comfort of your bed, rough sheets, and heavy blankets may drive up your body temperature, making it hard to get to sleep.
Don’t Force It
As a kid, do you remember being told by a parent just to lie in bed until you got tired? It’s a convenient piece of parental advice, but it doesn’t work when you’re an adult with a sleep problem. Whether you’re tossing and turning or just lying in bed thinking about next week’s big client presentation or an argument you had with your spouse, you’re only making the situation worse. Instead, get up and sit quietly in a darkened room, or do some light reading until your eyelids start to get heavy.
Limit Food and Drink at Night
Ingesting caffeine at night is a bad idea if you suffer from insomnia, as is eating a meal too close to bedtime. Your metabolism has to work to process the food, and you won’t feel like sleeping. Some people like to have a few drinks before bed, thinking it’ll help them wind down after a busy day. Unfortunately, alcohol undermines the healing, rejuvenating REM sleep you need to feel good and stay healthy.
Think through your sleep habits if you’re having difficulty at night. You might find that a simple adjustment will make a big difference. A consistent nighttime routine, a restful sleep space, and a little willpower in the evening can restore your mental well-being and leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated during the day.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Can Talking To Someone Help My Anxiety?
There is an old proverb, Confession is good for the soul. But is it really?
It sounds odd but can talking with somebody make you feel better? It can and it does. But why does it work? Why can just something as simple as talking about something that you are worried about, or feel guilty about make you feel better and less stressed?
To understand that question you have to understand how memory storage in our brains work. Doctors as far back as the 1890’s have recognized some memories fade into nothing and some memories resist that fading away. Mostly the memories that won’t fade are ones that are charged with emotions.
Simply, there is a part of us that feels and there is a part of us that thinks. Generally, we want to keep these things in balance. However, in life when we are scared, worried, guilty or sad we feel those emotions strongly. When your feelings are strong it diminishes your capacity to think; especially, your ability to say what you are feeling.
Have you ever seen a parent tell their screaming child to “use your words.” The parent instinctively recognizes that a child has to calm down and talk before they can stop being hysterical. That is because when the part of your brain that feels gets overwhelmed your body will actually shut down parts of itself in order to conserve fuel. When the “fight or flight” part of your mind is triggered, energy is diverted from other parts of your brain-systems in order to give you energy to fight of run. One area that is impacted is your ability to think rationally.
So, let’s say you got in an argument that escalated. Or that you made a mistake at work and are scared you will be fired for it. So, in that moment you are feeling strong emotions instead of thinking. If you do not communicate with anyone about it, after your emotions have calmed down, you will be putting that memory into the bookshelf of your mind with an emotional charge.
So what does an emotionally charged memory do? An emotionally charged memory is one that when you think about that memory you feel that emotion all over again. So you could be lying in your bed after having had a great day but start thinking about something from your past and BAM! Right there in your bed you feel what you felt then. Despite the fact that you just a moment ago felt at peace with the world. That is an emotionally charged memory.
Going back to the initial question, why does talking help you feel better? Because in order to take the charge out of a memory you have add thought to that memory. Remember that you both think and feel. A memory that is all feeling and no thinking will remain a charged memory. But when you talk about the past, especially when you think about what you were feeling and why, it helps add thought to that memory . A memory that has thought and feeling in it a memory that can be put on the bookshelf of your mind and just fade into the thousands of other memories there.
When you talk to someone who influences you to think about why you felt what you felt it can make that emotional charge go away which feels wonderful. This is why the whole practice of counseling even exists. To help people remember their past without feeling what they felt in the past.
Do you feel that you are haunted by your past? Do you feel that there are things in your past that you will never get over? Let’s get together. I can help you move forward. Contact me today!
Is It Time To Separate?
“Is choosing to separate the best option for me?” Choosing to separate in a marriage is never an easy decision to make. It is my hope that by reading this article you can gain some perspective on the topic of separation. A separation is different from a divorce in that you and your spouse will still legally share all parental and financial responsibilities. Also separations tend to have many different flavors. Here are the 3 most common types.
The Working Separation
In a working separation the couple separates in order to spend time improving themselves. Maybe a spouse has a mental health issue they are working on, or perhaps one spouse has an addiction they need to focus on. Working separations are best when there is an informal agreement between the two partners. This agreement will ideally have an explanation as to what issue needs to be worked on, who will take care of the kids and other responsibilities, what limits or boundaries are placed on communication (we’ll only communicate through text or email, or no communication for 2 months, etc.) and on what grounds will reconciliation take place. Working separations have the highest chance of resulting in reconciliation. If you think this is the type of separation you are looking for please contact a therapist or counselor–like myself--and draw up this contract with their input and guidance.
The Trial Separation
A trial separation is when one or more persons in the marriage express a desire to try what being single feels like. The idea is that the person is given time to clear their head. Afterwards they will then decide on whether or not to pursue reconciliation. One person generally will move out, either to another part of the house or to another place all together. Trial separations most commonly occur in families without young children.
These separations have a high rate of ending in divorce because most people leave a marriage when the pain and frustration are so high that staying seems impossible. Then, when they leave they find that being single has less pain and frustration then being married and make the jump to divorce.
The Legal Separation
This option is pursued most often when a marriage has become stale and anemic; there is little good in the marriage but also little frustration also. The couple may stay together for the sake of the children or because they both feel that becoming single is not attractive.
Whatever type of separation you are considering please understand that separation is a matter of last resort. Typically, divorce is the result of separation far, far more often than reconciliation. That being said if you separate when your pain and frustration haven’t yet caused you to give up there is a better chance of reconciliation afterward compared to waiting until you have one foot out the door.
If you or someone you know are going through a situation and you are contemplating separation or divorce, contact me today. I can help you work through your issues and come up with a plan that is best for your unique situation and relationship.
The Mental Health Benefits of Physical Self-Care
Saying the mind and body are connected is nothing new. The Ancient Greeks attempted to understand the mental phenomena of emotions and their complex connections to physiological order. That fascination continued through the Roman era, the Renaissance, and on throughout history — and that’s just Western European culture. Physicians and philosophers all over the globe have explored the mind and body connection since the beginning of time and even recent science backs up the claim that they are intrinsically connected.
If you are not taking care of your physical self, your mental health is likely not where you want it to be. For instance, one of the main symptoms of depression is poor personal hygiene. Addicts are another good illustration of this problem. Addicts turn to self-harm in the form of drug or alcohol abuse as a way to cope with their own mental health issues. While environmental and genetic components also contribute to the disease, the mind/body link plays its part.
Taking the time to take care of the physical self can have a helpful impact on your mental health and addiction recovery. In addition to seeking help and supervision through a physician, try incorporating the following self-care rituals into your routine.
Establish a Solid Sleep Routine
Sleep is awesome, so why do so many of us get so little of it? According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million American adults have some sort of sleep disorder, insomnia being the most common one. Sleep problems are common in addicts, as well. Drug and alcohol abuse disrupt the body’s natural rhythm along with the neurochemicals and hormones that help control rest. After a while, the body forgets how to rest properly.
Thankfully, you can retrain your body by establishing a sleep routine and following it religiously. It’s not just about going to sleep and waking up at the same times every day — although those two things are key. Practicing good sleep hygiene has a lot to do with how you spend the hours before bedtime.
- Limit stimulants including nicotine and caffeine.
- Invest in some soothing herbal teas you can drink leading up to bedtime to help brain and body relax.
- The glow of your television, computer and smartphone screens keep the brain alert. Turn them off and put them away an hour before bed.
- Turn your bedroom into a sanctum of rest. Buy yourself nice linens, keep the room temperature cool, and use a white noise machine or essential oils to create ambience.
- Read a chapter of a book before you fall asleep to help your mind wind down. If you are still not sleepy, read another chapter until you are.
You may think exercise is just something you have to do if you want to lose weight, but it’s essential to the addiction recovery process. Drugs and alcohol trick your body to think it needs them by triggering the brain’s reward system. When you give up those substances, you can help beat cravings with exercise. Physical activity also stimulates that part of the brain while also releasing neurochemicals like dopamine and endorphins, which relieve pain and promote a positive mindset. You don’t have to train for a marathon to get these benefits, either. Just walking an extra half hour a day provides significant benefits.
Explore Healthy Stress Release
Finding some way to release stress and anxiety in a healthy manner is essential for addiction recovery. Meditation, yoga and hobbies like knitting help people tune out those thoughts and criticisms without having to use drugs or alcohol. Think of them like exercise for your brain. During these mindful exercises, you will experience negative thoughts. However, by recognizing those thoughts, dismissing them and returning your attention to your activity, you are training your brain to dismiss them on its own. The more you practice, the easier it becomes and your brain learns to automatically pass over self-criticisms in your day-to-day life so you can stay focused.
Since the mind and body are connected, your physical health has a significant impact on your mental health and vice-versa. When you struggle with a mental health issue like addiction, incorporating a solid sleep routine, exercise, and healthy coping mechanisms for stress all contribute to recovery. Incorporate daily physical self-care routines in your efforts to heal yourself holistically.
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Defined By My Past
What does it mean to be defined by your past?? The answer lies in the brain. The brain?s primary function is to keep you alive and safe, and that function will override any and all other functions when it perceives that you are in danger.? When I use the word perceive, I mean that over the course of your life, your brain has learned what is dangerous, physically and emotionally, so whenever a situation presents itself, your brain immediately recalls whether any danger has been associated with this type of situation in your past experiences or learning.? If so, your brain will react protectively.
?Learning in the Brain
Your brain learns every time you encounter a dangerous situation.? For example, the first time you were burned with fire, your brain learned that fire was hot, painful, and dangerous.? This programming is deep and long lasting.? For the rest of your life, you will always have some level of fear around being burned by fire.? The same type of learning happens with emotional danger, particularly when shame is involved.? Brain imaging suggests that when a person is overwhelmed with shame, it acts protectively in that same way it would if you were dying.? This suggests that the brain does not distinguish between shame and death.? This further suggests that we learn to defend against anything that the brain perceives as shameful.? This may include performance, looks, perceived competence, social behavior, status, and more.
Trauma is any event or sequence of events, physical or emotional, that has permanently raised the brain?s and body?s awareness and preparedness for danger beyond normal levels.? After a traumatic event, there are often permanent changes.? A person?s heart rate may permanently increase or decrease, they may become hyperaware of any potential danger, have an increased startle response, have unexplained anxiety, have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and perhaps most troubling of all, they may have a difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.? In this way, our past is defined by trauma, holding us back like a ball and chain shackled to our ankle.
Getting your Life Back?
To restore the person you were, or perhaps discover the person you never had the chance to become, the brain needs to learn that you are now safe, and it needs to learn how to lower its defenses when they are not necessary.? The brain will not let its defenses go lightly as its primary function is to keep you alive and safe.? It takes time, and it usually requires professional help.? As the brain?s defenses begin to lighten up, you are freed to find yourself.? This happens naturally since your faculties are no longer bogged down by the need to be constantly on guard.? People who recover from trauma find that they feel new peace and enjoyment in life, greatly improved relationships, and perhaps most of all, they feel that they are no longer defined by their past.
If you feel like you are defined by your past, if you are having trouble moving forward, or if you just need to get a few things off of your chest?please contact our office today. We have a team of experts who are ready and eager to help you move forward.?We will help you recover from your mental trauma.
Choices = Energy
We all have bad days. It’s okay. But, it is essential to keep in mind that we all choose how much we allow our circumstances, at any given time, to influence our energy?positive or negative.
It?s okay to be human. We all make mistakes We all repeat the same slip-ups until we decide to choose another option?which often requires a paradigm shift. Changing one?s frame of mind is never easy. Change is hard!
Know what else is tough? Learning to walk and talk, but we did it?because we kept trying to learn. We were intentional about acquiring that skill because at that time, it was important to us.
At some point in adulthood, people get stuck in a cloud of shifting priorities. Work. School. Family. Church. Social engagements. We all?at one time or another?feel drained! The question is, what are we going to do about it?
For a change to happen, one must intentionally create new habits. These behaviors are meant to replace the old ways that were not contributing to our success. These new habits should be designed to impact areas in our lives that we need strengthened. Nothing changes, when nothing changes.
Marty was just like you?busy, overworked, stressed. She?s a single-parent who works very hard to provide for her two boys.
One day, Marty decided that she was going to do something about her energy. She had been reading a book by Brendon Burchard, High Performing Habits, that inspired her to generate more positive energy by intentionally adopting simple habits that would allow her to do so.
On a Tuesday morning, Marty set 2 random alarms?one at 10:17 am , another at 2:29 pm?that prompted her to stop what she was doing and take 10 deep breaths. She was intrigued by how effortless and odd, yet apparently obvious this exercise seemed, because Marty had known for quite some time that she wasn?t taking breaks throughout her day to just breathe?and as a nurse she knew how vital breathing is to one?s well-being.
Her first alarm goes off. She gets up from the nurse?s station, walks outside, and starts to count 10 deep breaths. Once she has started breathing she is supposed to ask herself, ?what kind of energy do I want and need right now?? She thinks about her to-do list, the patients she is caring for, and then she feels gratitude.
?I am grateful that I have all of these things to do and that I am entrusted with these people to care for. I choose to BRING THE JOY!?
This heartwarming moment was a gamechanger for Marty. A few hours later, when her next alarm went off, she once again walked outside to get a breath of fresh air. She started to breathe and as she did she felt the tension release from off of her shoulders. She was in the moment. She had already ?brought the joy once.? She thought about what kind of energy she needed at that moment, then, like magic, she had laser-like focus as she intentionally dialed into her mind to generate the energy she wanted. She caught up her charting and made her rounds again?with the intention of bringing more joy!
Six months later, Marty still has her 2 alarms that go off, and she has found that she takes more time to be present, in the present. She is able to stay focused at work. She?s incorporated a 3rd alarm. This one goes off on her drive home. She breathes, releases the tension, and asks herself what kind of energy her family needs. These triggers, changed her behavior in a way that impacted her state of mind, her work, & family relationships. Marty took control of her energy production.
Another key aspect of generating energy is taking control of our health?optimize it. If it has been over a year since the last physical exam, ?we really should get one soon. We all have to start somewhere, and this is a good place. Finding out where to improve our health and our body, and then intentionally improving those areas will bless us with health, strength, and vitality.
Exercise plays a HUGE role in one?s ability to generate energy. A good place to start is in the morning. Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier, stretch, and do 5 push-ups. Do this Monday through Friday for a month. Get excited about waking up earlier to do this?after all, by doing this, you are changing the world (your world). Increase your exercise to, eventually, consistently exercising for at least 30 minutes a morning, 4-5x a week.
Robin Sharma said, ?Good health is a crown on the head of a well person that only a sick person can see.?
As we choose to do simple, different things like setting random alarms to breathe, breathing to intentionally set the tone, and optimizing our health, our bodies will reap from the choices we have sown. We will grow in health, mental clarity, and our ability to generate energy will have increased by leaps and bounds.
There are no shortcuts. Choices can and should be tough. Growth is never easy. Change is always possible. Change comes when we choose between comfort and wisdom?and choose to grow. It comes when we ask ourselves, ?What is TRULY best for me right now?? Then acting upon that answer.
Do you want the secret to life? Act. Do. Become.
Act on your choices, choose your reactions, and intentionally generate the energy and the feelings that are most important to you and will help you become the best version of yourself.
If you struggle with learning new habits, if you need help from a mentor to coach you as you strive to become all that you have the potential to become, or if you are ready to take it to the next level?career, relationship, personal life?then I can help you.
Click here to contact me to day for a free 30 minute consultation.
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How To Improve Your Positive Self-Talk With 4 Easy Steps
What is intrapersonal communication?
Intrapersonal communication is the process of talking to oneself, which is related to your constant internal dialogues, either consciously or subconsciously. Our intrapersonal communication helps to determine our self-image and self-awareness, which is the most basic level of communication, and helps us to understand who we are and what we think of ourselves.
Why is it important?
We can easily determine our self-esteem and self-perception through our internal communications, or intrapersonal communications. Obviously, in order to have a successful interpersonal relationship–communicating with others–we must first learn how to communicate with ourselves, understand who we are, and what we think of ourselves, and eventually, it will lead us to have a greater success in life. But how?
Follow these 4 steps to Improve your Intrapersonal Communication
Your internal conversations have a huge impact on you and your personal well-being. Try to listen to your self-talk and be aware of your internal dialogue and whether it is positive or negative. Remember that negative self-talk can drain your energy or motivation while your positive dialogues can empower you with higher self-esteem and eventually improve your self-perception, which is going to help you to have a better feeling about yourself.
Have you ever tried to monitor your thought on your ongoing basis? In general, it is easier to let our thoughts run randomly through our mind, but if we try to recognize our negative thoughts and immediately replace them with positive ones, we will be amazed by the result on our day-to-day life activities and relational communications.
Try to eliminate your unwanted thoughts from intruding by saying or thinking about some words like ?STOP? or ?ENOUGH?, ?CLEAR?, QUIT?. You can also improve your positive self-talk through prayer, meditation, affirmations, and focusing on your enjoyable moments.
Try to recognize the differences that your positive self-talk makes in your day-to-day life activities or communications. Pay attention to those changes like feeling calmer and more peaceful, which are going to help you connect with what is peaceful and good around you and you’ll become less concerned with trivial matters. After a while, you will achieve a more positive outlook on life and have more confidence in your abilities.
If you are struggling with your self-esteem, self-worth, having relationship or communication issues, or just need some insight into life, please contact me today.?
Do You Have A Vision?
To know?where you are going, first?you need to?know who you are. Then, you need to?have a reason?to reach your destination.?Why?do you want to make it there??Why?is it important to you?
Dr. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that you must?begin with the end in mind.?Focus with me?as his words?guide?your thoughts:
?In your mind?s eye,?see yourself?going to the funeral of a loved one.?Picture yourself?driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out.?As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music.?You see?the?faces of friends and family?you pass along the way.?You feel?the shared?sorrow?of losing, the?joy?of having known that radiates from the hearts of the people there.
?As you walk?down in front of the room?and look inside the casket,?you?suddenly?come face to face?with yourself.?This is your funeral?three years from today. All these?people have come?to honor you,?to?express feelings?of love and appreciation?for your life.
‘As you take a seat?and wait for the services to begin,?you look?at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers.?The first?is from your family, immediate and extended-?children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents?who have come from all over the country to attend.?The second?is one of your friends,?someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person.?The third?speaker is from your work or profession.?The fourth?is from your church?or some community organization where you?ve been involved in service.
?Now think deeply.?What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life?What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son, or daughter, or cousin??What kind of friend??What kind of working associate?
?What character would you like them to have seen in you??What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you.?What difference would you have liked to have made?in their lives??
Think about those answers.?Take a minute to truly reflect. I would even suggest writing your answers down on a piece of paper.
Who you would ?have them remember you as?or what you would have them remember you for?is?your personal definition of success!
Using this exercise, I’ve defined my own roles in my life and this perspective has helped me to create a personal mission statement.?You must know who you are?and what you need to do to become the best version of yourself.?Doing this will be your?driving force?to get to your ultimate destination. This is called seeking clarity.
There is?great power?in?beginning with the end in mind.?As I strive to become the man I envision myself becoming, I have a?deeper satisfaction?in life. I have a stronger conviction?to accomplish my goals.?I have a purpose. I also have a reason to challenge myself by setting goals to develop into the best version of myself.
To?truly?know where you are going,?to have a clear vision?of where you are headed;?you must first have a clear picture of?who you are.
As your life coach, I can help you develop your vision, help you set goals to achieve your vision, and inspire you to grow into the person it will take to make your vision a reality! Contact me today for a free consultation.