Category Archives: Uncategorized

Improve Your Mental Health: Tips for Sleeping Better

Man sleeping

Photo via Rawpixel

Sleep Better for Your Health

Sleep is very important to improve our mental health and well-being. Try some tips to sleep better and make a difference in your quality of life. Sleep disorders are common among people with mental health conditions. Depression and anxiety are also common with many sleep problems like insomnia or sleep apnea.

Although insomnia can be a symptom of some mental health disorders, the relationship between sleep problems and mental illness is complex. Research suggests that poor quality sleep can contribute to mental conditions. Treating sleep problems can be one way to relieve some symptoms you may be struggling with.

Improve Your Sleeping Environment

The bedroom sleep environments have a much greater impact on our quality of sleep than most people think. Common things that disrupt sleep include noise, clutter, heat, and even small amounts of light filtering in from outside or inside your home.

Using your bedroom for stressful activities like work or studying can also contribute to sleeplessness. Consider giving your bedroom an upgrade to promote better sleep. Hang some blackout curtains, get a white noise machine, and move electronics into another room.

This is also a good time to check your bed and make sure it is comfortable. If your mattress has visible sagging, lumps, or tears, it’s time for an upgrade. A good-quality mattress is essential to provide the comfort and support your body needs to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep during the night.

Before going shopping, take some time to learn about different mattress types and materials so you can choose the best option for your needs. For example, memory foam mattresses can be great for many different body types and sleeping styles since they’re available in numerous firmness levels. If you like a little bounce to your bed, you can even get hybrid memory foam mattresses that contain both coils and foam.

Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Sleeping on an inconsistent schedule can also cause sleep-related issues. Your body runs on a kind of internal clock called the circadian rhythm. This regulates your sleep-wake cycle, helping you feel awake during the day and tired at night. However, fighting against this natural process can leave you feeling tired and groggy in the mornings and wakeful at bedtime. Try to go to bed and wake up at the about same time every day to avoid disrupting your circadian rhythm.

Care for Your Body

What you do during your waking hours will also affect your sleep. For example, studies have found that moderate aerobic exercise can increase the amount of rejuvenating deep sleep that you get, according to John Hopkins Medicine. At the same time, eating a balanced diet focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help your body regulate your sleep cycles. Try to limit your consumption of caffeine since it is closely tied to sleep problems.

If you want some extra help to learn how to treat your body right, you may want to work with a nutritionist, dietitian, or fitness professional. Fortunately, you can find these wellness specialists through online freelancing platforms. Simply, search for the service you are looking for, read the reviews and talent details. Then, choose a specialist that fits your needs and budget.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Many people with mental health conditions can benefit from learning a few relaxation techniques to quiet the mind before bed. The National Sleep Foundation recommends breathing exercises and guided imagery to promote sleep, but you may also want to try progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness meditation. Find relaxation exercises that work for you and then start a habit of practicing them every evening to help your mind and body wind down.

Get Mental Health Help

For anyone with an underlying mental health issue that is getting in the way of quality, restful sleep, professional help is worth it. For example, if you have depression and experience difficulty sleeping, consider seeking treatment for depression. Mental health counseling can be effective at relieving the symptoms of depression.

Learn More about Sleep and Recovery

Health Vista has many resources for health and well-being.  You can find a How to Sleep Better handout on the Recovery Education page, with a few more tips for you. Browse the website to find ways to improve your quality of life whether or not mental illness is a problem for you or a family member. A Coping and Relaxation Workbook is also available to download and print free. Using coping techniques can help you to fall asleep faster, and to avoid over-reacting with anxiety when you wake up during the night.

Remember How Important Sleep Is

Sleep plays an essential—yet often overlooked—role in our physical health and mental wellbeing. Don’t settle for poor-quality sleep. Try improving your bedroom. Upgrade your mattress, if needed. Pick up some healthy habits and routines. Start taking steps to sleep better today, so you can wake up to a happier and healthier tomorrow.

Blog Post # 25  added 2-25-21 by Guest Contributer Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com.  Edited by Mary Knutson.

Parenting Advice for Every Age: Tips for Raising Amazing Kids

Happy family raising amazing kids

Photo via Rawpixel

Raising Amazing Kids

Raising children from newborns to adults is an incredible journey. But it’s also very difficult. All parents want to raise happy, healthy kids that enjoy success in school and thrive as adults. But what is the best way to set your children up for success? While there is no perfect parenting strategy, there are actions you can take to encourage the development of healthy habits and ensure your children feel supported through every life stage. Here are some great resources to help you along your parenting path!

Encourage Healthy Habits

A healthy home environment will encourage your kids to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and avoid risky behaviors.

Best Ways to Help Children Fall Asleep at Nap Time

9 Ways to Encourage Indoor Kids to Play Outside

How to Build Healthy Eating Habits in Kids

Be Mindful of the “Whatever It Takes” Veggie Approach

4 Parent-Tested Systems You Can Use To Limit Screen Time

Clearing Bad Energy from Your Home

Get Involved

Children are less likely to develop bad habits and engage in dangerous behaviors when their parents take an active interest in their lives.

An Age-by-Age Guide to Bonding With Your Child & Teenager

7 Educational and Entertaining Activities for Young Kids

Practice Active Listening with Your Children

Make Holding Family Meetings a Priority

11 Ways Parents Can Get Involved in Schools

Teach Key Life Skills

Teach your children to cook, clean up after themselves, budget their money, and make plans for the future. These life skills will come in very useful when your kids become adults!

How to Teach Your Kids to Cook

12 Ways To Raise Financially Confident Kids At Every Age

The Benefits of Kids Doing Chores

The Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Time Management

How to Teach Kids Social Responsibility in a Connected World

Find Information and Resources

Visit Health Vista to explore a collection of clear and practical health information and quality educational resources to heal the body and mind.  If your child has emotional or behavioral problems, consider reading about the use of a coping plan at https://healthvista.net/a-great-way-to-plan-ahead-use-a-coping-plan/.  It is also possible that the music that your child listens to could be making it harder for them to cope.  You can find some examples of inspirational music at https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music-for-teens/.

Be Kind to Yourself

Parenting is a learning process. If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not alone! Since every family and every child is unique, it can be hard to know what’s best for you and your children. As long as you love your child unconditionally, praise their good behavior, and spend as much time together as possible, you’re bound to raise amazing kids.

Blog Post # 24 added 1-27-21.  Written by Guest Contributor Kristin Louis.  Visit her website at https://parentingwithkris.com/

How to Cope with Election Results

Traveling under series of arches

Stress and anxiety are normal

During an election year, stress and anxiety can be expected. Particularly when you have strong feelings about one of the candidates or a certain issue, an election can seem all-consuming.

Once an election results ends, you may be stressed about what’s going to come next or how your friends will react if you voted for different parties or candidates.

Everyone deals with stress differently. The important thing is for you to identify healthy ways to address election results and move forward.

Understand that you are not alone

Election campaigns, election events, and post-election updates have put people on edge. One study found that 38% of people reported that they lost sleep over the 2020 U.S. presidential election and 25% of people felt rage when they thought about the election.

To deal with election-related problems, it might help to remember that they impact many people and that you’re not alone. You don’t have to feel as though something is wrong simply because you’re upset.

There has been a lot of unrest over the election and other issues in the United States. There are least two sides in an election – and everyone feels as though they are on the right side. Some people will get angry or upset when others do not agree with them. While this might not be pleasant, it is normal.

You can identify yourself as passionate. That is fine unless you let your passion blind you to alternatives, or if your passion leads you to compromise your honesty and integrity. Or, you can identify yourself as empathetic. As you start to understand and share the feelings of others, it’s easier to see the similarities and differences that you have.

Many highly empathic people learn to use their skills for good. You can start conversations to understand more about people. Remember to listen and state your views, but don’t argue. With empathy, you may be able to inspire change, allowing you to feel as though you have more control over what’s happening in the world around you.

Learn how to process stress

When elections seem to be taking their toll, remember that there are healthy ways to cope with stress. Try to identify what you’re experiencing, whether it’s stress, disbelief, shock, helplessness, other emotions, or a combination of these. Know that physical and emotional symptoms can be stressful on your body.

Practicing self-care is of the utmost importance. Think about what you can do to help yourself. You’ll want to get a good night’s sleep, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and take breaks.

Particularly when it comes to election stress, the media can be your worst enemy. Try avoiding the news for a bit if it’s bothering you. If you feel that you absolutely need an update, limit yourself to 10 or 15 minutes of news.

It’s also a good idea to unplug from social media for a while. Give yourself a break of a few days or a week. When you’re not constantly dealing with your friends’ arguing over issues and candidates, you might find it easier to relax.

If you continue to feel stressed and worried, it may be time to talk to someone. Start by talking to friends and family about your feelings. If needed, discuss the problems with a psychologist or other trusted professional.

Similarly, if you’re dealing with election-related stress by using alcohol or drugs, seek help at drug or inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers. Professionals at those facilities can treat addictions as well as stress, depression, anxiety, and other factors that could contribute to addictions.

One of the most important aspects of managing stress is knowing when you’re at a breaking point. There’s no need to burn out simply because an election didn’t go in your favor. You cannot stress on things that are out of your control.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that there are other things that you can change. If you’re still struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Identify your behaviors

You might tend to isolate yourself and feel sad.  Or you might reach out with more anger and irritability that makes other people uncomfortable. Either way, it makes it harder to get the support you need.

It’s easy to become addicted without realizing it. You may pour a drink as a way to relax. Maybe you went through half of the bottle before you knew it, because you still weren’t able to relax. This might happen night after night, and before you’ve fully comprehended it, you’ve developed a drinking problem.

Alcohol and drugs are unhealthy ways of numbing pain, though.

If you find that you’ve developed problematic behaviors, work to stop them. If you encounter setbacks or withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop, it’s important to know that there is help available, including online resources for recovery or addiction.

The sooner you identify unhealthy behaviors, the sooner you can get them under control. Although election results might trouble you, they shouldn’t consume your entire life. It is OK to step back and watch things unfold.

Focus on what you can control

There are plenty of things that you can do to gain control of your life. If you’re stressed about election results, think about what you can do locally:

  • Join a group so that you can talk about politics with others who have similar views or debate others with different perspectives.
  • March for your rights to ensure your voice is heard.
  • Volunteer for causes you find important.

When you’re able to build support systems and find outlets for your emotions, it can be easier to manage stress in all aspects of your life. Remember that you’re not alone and that others are willing to help.

Sources:

prnewswire.com – Mental Health Survey: Rage, Election Worries and Covid-19 Fears Plague Americans

greatergood.berkeley.edu – Six Habits of Highly Empathic People

cdc.gov – Coping with Stress

Blog # 23 added 12-14-20 by guest author Patrick Bailey (with minor edits by Mary Knutson).

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Website / Blog URL: http://patrickbaileys.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pat_Bailey80

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-bailey-writer

Nurturing and Healing Your Inner Child

Overhanging tree At the side of a creek
Play with your inner child at the side of a creek

Every child deserves  nurturing and security, but some children don’t have it.  Each of us has the desire to be cared for, loved and nurtured. That little child inside of you that needs healing, (even when you are an adult), is called your “inner child” or your inner spirit.  Sometimes, the people who raised you aren’t capable of giving the love and support that you deserved. Healing can happen if you direct caring thoughts and behaviors inward toward the child inside of you.

Your inner child is a free spirit that is emotional, sensitive, fun-loving, joyful, imaginative, and creative.

Finding your inner child:

  • Your childhood spirit may have been tamed, lost, or forgotten, but it is still somewhere inside you.
  • It can influence our decisions, even when we are unaware, because our inner child is part of our beliefs about ourselves.
  • That inner child may need healing and support if it was hurt, neglected, frustrated, or abused during childhood. Even if you have masked, or hidden the inner child, it may be causing you to be worried and fearful of being treated badly.
  • People often ignore their inner child if they have felt guilty or “not good enough.”
  • Our inner child may be hidden if we had to pretend our family was happy and healthy, even when it wasn’t.
  • Sometimes when we dream or daydream, we can picture what the little child is like.

We know our inner child is active when we:

  • Lose ourselves in fun
  • Enjoy playing with games, toys, or pets
  • Get emotional looking at old photo albums, scrapbooks or home movies about our childhood
  • Still think as a child does, seeking to please parents or extended families

Instead of nurturing and healing, many people hid their inner child and make him or her invisible by:

  • Wearing one of these “masks”
    • “Fashion Show Plate” – Dressing up extremely fancy or carefully
    • “Make-up Artist” – Wearing too much make-up
    • “Body Perfect – Too much work on body shape and exercise
    • “Miss Manners” – Too much politeness
    • “The Blob” – Too much weight (obesity)
    • “The Glumstress” – Wearing drab colors
    • “The Overachiever” – Taking on all challenges
    • “The Daredevil”- Too much risk taking
    • “The Perfectionist” – Being obsessive or fixated on details

Nurturing and healing your inner child:

Nurturing to overcome “Invisibility”

  • Believe that you and your inner child deserve respect.
  • Give yourself the nurturing, caring, love, forgiveness, and respect needed to heal.
  • Let go of self-pity over being neglected or abused as a child, and take charge of your life.
  • Create a bond between the adult you, and your inner child (to give you a sense of security and self-confidence).
  • Like your inner child, you may think, “All I want is to have someone hug me and tell me they are proud of me. Why can’t it happen?”
  • Instead, give yourself a hug every day, know your strengths, and be kind to yourself.
  • Say, “I am proud of me!”

Revised from Messina, J. J. & Messina, C. (2010). Growing down: Tools for healing the inner child,  Retrieved from http://jamesjmessina.com/growingdowninnerchild/innerchild.html

 

Blog # 10  by Mary Knutson 1-18-16 for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated for readability 5-25-20

Coping with the Holidays

Old-fashioned Christmas Holiday tree

The holidays can be a stressful and hectic time of year.  It is important to find ways of coping and surviving the holidays. They seem to come so fast and it can seem like a letdown when they are over.

Ways of Coping

I have been trying to manage during the holiday season by being more mindful and grateful.  So far, it is helping. I also realize that I am not perfect and my family gatherings won’t be either. I have been using candles and scents more. Making efforts to add relaxation to my days or evenings has also been helpful for me.

More Resources for Coping:

On my website, www.healthvista.net,  I have several engaging Powerpoints written by Shari Cavadini, a registered nurse I used to work with.

One of those presentations can be helpful this time of year. It is called 12 Ways to Cope with the Holidays.  You can find it on the website or at the link below.

https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/12WaystoCopewiththeHolidays.pdf

The Coping and Relaxation Workbook can also help you cope with the Holiday, or at any time of the year.

As you use your own (both old and new) ways of coping, I hope you can feel the peace and joy of the season!

 

Blog #8 12/10/15 by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20