Tag Archives: counselling

Sleep and You: It Matters! Steps to Improve Your Sleep

Posted on May 24, 2018

We all know that too often sleep either doesn’t come easily, or for last long enough.  A recent National Sleep Foundation pollfound that adults need an average of 7.5 – 8 hours sleep a night. That sounds lovely, but how often does that happen for you on
consecutive nights?
….So many of us are consistently unable to shut off the minds once in bed; or we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t return to sleep.  It’s frustrating! But why is this and what can we do to make change??

The same Sleep Foundation poll showed a downward trend in sleep with an average of 6.4 hours. The culprits? …..Not surprisingly two of the main offenders are nighttime internet use and/or doing work at home at night. Both are directly linked to poor sleep and poor sleep hygiene. And while anxiety and depression can make sleep more challenging, it’s well-known that less sleep is what makes both worse.

Sleep is key to overall good health and optimum functioning. So, here are the simple steps to take to improve your sleep.

  1. Set a consistent sleep and wake-up time. Go to bed at about the same time each night….that means you might need to avoid binging on that extra Netflix episode no matter how tempting! …Then get up at the same time each morning.  As nice as it may be to have a long sleep in on the weekend, try to limit sleeping in to no more than an hour past your usual wake-up time. This will help to get your body into a healthy sleep cycle.
  2. Limit the caffeine. Avoid caffeine after noon. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate and energy drinks. If you like a coffee, limit it to the morning.
  3. Limit the alcohol. While alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it will cause disturbed sleep. The stimulating effect of alcohol on your body results in lots of tossing and turning in bed.
  4. Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. Keep work, texting, and watching TV out of the bed. This will train your brain and body to know that it’s a space for sleeping.
  5. Take a break if you can’t sleep. If you find that you can’t sleep after lying in bed for about 15 minutes, then get up and do something quiet and relaxing; read a book or listen to music. Don’t watch TV, don’t surf the net, and don’t work or text. These stimulate you. When you feel sleepy then go back to bed. If you still can’t sleep then get up and repeat these strategies. Don’t worry…you are training your body that sleeping (not thinking or tossing and turning!) is what happens in bed. And if you wake very early in the morning, use this same strategy. And, no matter what time you fall asleep, still get up at the same time in the morning.
  6. Stop the worry! Have you found that the worries seem to start the moment your head hits the pillow? Try keeping a notepad next to your bed so that when you have a thought or a worry you can jot it down. Then come back to it the next day. If you find you’re still thinking about it, simply remind yourself that you’ve already planned to deal with it tomorrow; not now. Worries generally seem bigger in the night, so leave it until morning when you’re rested.
  7. Take medications as prescribed. Always take medications as they are prescribed. Check with your pharmacist or family doctor before trying an over-the-counter medication for sleep, and never take a sleep medication that is prescribed for someone else.

Restoring healthy patterns of sleep won’t happen overnight 😉 ….. Give it time and it WILL happen. We’re here to help you achieve your goals.

Michelle Moloney MA, RCC

5 Strategies for Anxiety Relief

Posted on May 9, 2018

Anxiety rates are on the increase.

Here are some tools to help manage the uncomfortable sensations and thoughts that accompany anxiety.

  1. Acknowledge and accept your anxiety. Fighting and judging your anxiety will only increase your discomfort and distress. Allowing the sensations of anxiety while telling yourself that, “this is in fact okay”, may seem counterintuitive but worth a try.  Breathe and notice that you are okay regardless of the discomfort.
  2. Exercise– Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity releases chemicals in your brain that improve mood and promote relaxation. Simply getting active for a 20 minute brisk walk daily is a great place to start….start today, one walk!
  1. Take a break from your busy mind that is one of the key symptoms of anxiety. Pull your attention outside of your mind to your environment, to the temperature, the lighting, the sensation of your walking, the feeling of a leaf in your hand, and/or the taste of your food. This is an immediate tool to slow down your mind and bring your attention to the present where nothing bad is occurring!
  1. Observe your self-talk and invite compassionate reassuring statements over negative thoughts. Do this simply for a few moments and notice the difference. Remember experimenting with different ways of responding to anxiety is key.
  1. Give yourself some relaxation time doing something you enjoy. For example, A bath, petting your pet, reading a few pages from a book, chatting with a friend you enjoy. What do you enjoy doing and how can you do this for yourself today.

Remember, you are not alone in dealing with anxiety. It is a common experience. Give yourself the attention you need to help calm your mind and body today.

Together We Can Eliminate Racial Discrimination

Posted on March 22, 2018

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

Mindfulness has been found to decrease racial bias and judgement.

While more research is needed about how mindfulness can reduce implicit bias over the long term, studies out of the University of Michigan show the promise of practicing mindfulness to reduce hidden assumptions and stereotypes. Part of the reason mindfulness practice is effective is that it helps us to slow ourselves down, pause, observe our thoughts and feelings, become more self-aware and make intentional choices about how we want to respond to challenging situations—rather than jumping to conclusions and automatically reacting in ways that we sometimes regret
~ Viktor E. Frankl (1905-1997) is a well known neurologist, psychiatrist, and a holocaust survivor.