In our Wellness Weekly, mental health roundup feature we curate some of the best writing on the web related to health and wellbeing. Here is some recommended reading for this week.
- On Psychology Today, David DiSalvo writes about sleep’s connections with learning, emotion regulation, and anxiety. He presents evidence that disrupted sleep derails the brain’s normal cycle, affecting memory, the nervous and immune systems, and more. He also informs readers that “sleep therapy” could be an effective method of treating anxiety disorders and goes on to give some tips for recovering from sleep loss. Read Understanding the Connection Between Sleep and Anxiety.
- Over at NPR, Maanvi Singh writes about some of the benefits of expressing gratitude. She summarizes many different forms of gratitude, including writing thank you letters and keeping a gratitude journal. In addition to the noted benefits, Singh also highlights what gratitude can’t do and some gaps in the research. For a richer understanding of gratitude and perhaps some ideas to apply personally, read If You Feel Thankful, Write it Down. It’s Good For Your Health.
- On the Harvard Business Review, Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan explore the now ubiquitous topic of resilience. They argue against what they call a “militaristic, ‘tough’ approach to resilience and grit.” Instead, they outline evidence that rest periods are the key to resilience and eventual success. Rest from work and from screens, in fact, is key to reducing accidents and other health and safety problems. They assert that the “key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again.” Find this interesting? Read Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure.
Do you have some favorite reading you’d like featured? Contact Breanna.
Sometimes starting an exercise program can be more challenging than the working out itself. Having to figure out how to get started, learning new terminology to what’s the difference between a rep and a set as well as knowing what to exactly do while in the gym. That is why we designed a custom program specific for The Rebel in You.
This program is a complete guide to getting moving and started on a journey of healthy living. Inside you’ll learn different terms and a glossary of definitions. The program booklet has advice as to why being active is the right thing for you to do and it gives tips to help keep you on track, even when we find ourselves with a setback, we can still learn from it and use the tips to get back on. You will be shown how to find your target heart rate to make sure that when you are training aerobically you are being efficient and reaching the level needed to reach your goals. It also helps you with how to make and set goals!
Included in the program booklet is a couple of full workout programs, which you can do at your own pace and you can keep track of it with the weekly calendar data chart to measure progress. Each program can be done for the entirety of the 12 weeks, or you can switch to another one if you feel you’d like to be challenged a bit more from the previous program. One of the programs is designed without any equipment which means it can help you become more familiar with movement and your body but also it means you can also do it at home. At the end of a workout or on a day you feel you need a stretch you can use the stretching guidelines to help balance out the work you’ve been putting in from the exercising.
Regardless of your level of fitness or experience, this program is designed to help you get a little bit more from your wellness plans and to help guide you in a total wellness program. The Rebel in You wellness booklet can be found on our website and it is free to download. Feel free to ask coworkers to join in, or family members to help provide support and a bit of social gathering time while you do something good for you. To be well is less about how you “should” go to the gym, or about the time you denied yourself dessert but more of an understanding that you matter and are important. That the higher value you place on yourself to take one more step or do one more rep pays out not only in your future self but also in your present self. We all are living a life where life happens, so we do not need to wait for life to happen in the “right way” for us to be well but we can practice being well in ourselves with each moment so that we create a life of wellness and well-being.
Have you ever been so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open? Or how about that horrible groggy, sluggish feeling after a night of tossing and turning that no matter how much coffee you drink, doesn’t go away?
Hopefully, you don’t feel this way often. If you do, you’re probably suffering from lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. Both can be detrimental to your daily functioning and ability to pay attention and do well at school.
If you want to do something about feeling so tired (who wouldn’t?), try these tips for getting some high quality shut-eye:
- Create a healthy sleep environment. Ensure your bedroom temperature is on the cool side and that your room is dark. You also might want to try some white-noise in the background. This could be a fan on a low setting or some soothing, soft music.
- Exercise: Being physically active during the day can help regulate your sleep pattern. Just be sure to try and finish physical activity at least three hours before bedtime.
- Park it. Set aside some time an hour before you head to bed to make a to-do list for the next day. This will free up your mind for the night and enhance the quality of your sleep. Just promise yourself once the list is complete, that’s it for the night!
- Head to bed and wake up at the same time. Get in the habit of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends (I know, this can be tough). This will help regulate your body’s internal clock, which will make it easier to get up and start the day without feeling sluggish.
- Wind your mind and body down. Do something relaxing before you sleep. Reading a book or listening to calming music are both good winding-down activities. Try to stay away from electronic screens (laptop, smartphone) right before heading to sleep as the brightness stimulates your brain and can make you feel alert. Still not sleepy? Try drinking some warm milk or having a light snack.
- Deep breathing. Thinking about your breathing as you lay in bed can help calm you down and reduce anxiety. Here is one breathing exercise you might want to try.
- Reflect. Think about what you did that day, everything you accomplished and things that you’re grateful for. This will leave you feeling calm and positive as you drift off.
Want more info on sleep? Visit the National Sleep Foundation.
Now that summer is over and you’re back in college (or starting college for the first time), getting enough quality sleep is really important.
Regular, consistent sleep patterns will help you feel more energized, alert and attentive when you wake up in the morning. Healthy sleep patterns can also enhance your cognitive functioning, learning and memory.
A lack of sleep can lead to an array of problems. For example, people with persistent and untreated insomnia are at risk for experiencing depression for the first time or a relapse of depressive symptoms. There is also good evidence showing that insomnia is a risk factor for the development or recurrence of anxiety disorders and substance abuse problems.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for people 18 and over is between seven and nine hours each night. The quality of that sleep is also important, which our lifestyle and health habits can negatively or positively impact.
Try answering the following questions. They can provide good insight into whether you are getting enough sleep.
- Do you have a consistent sleep schedule? (i.e. get a similar amount of sleep each night).
- Are you productive during the days that you get your usual hours of sleep?
- Do you have a constant urge to nap?
- Are you dependent on caffeine all throughout the day?
- Are you able to fall asleep easily at night?
For more on sleep including tips and sleep quizzes, visit the National Sleep Foundation.
With so many things demanding our attention these days, its wishful thinking for many of us to get six let alone eight hours of sleep at night.
But the benefits of regular sleep, from concentration to memory, are hard to beat — and no, caffeine isn’t a substitute!
Dr. Russel Foster is a circadian neuroscientist in Oxford, England and studies the complicated intricacies of sleep and brain functioning. In his TED talk presentation Why do we sleep? he says one of the biggest problems is that society doesn’t value sleep and that large segments of the population are sleep-deprived.
Watch his TED talk for more insight into why we need sleep or read some of the highlights from his talk below.
- The average person will spend 36 per cent of their life asleep. If you live to be 90-years-old, you will have spent 32 years sleeping!
- In the 1950s, people were getting an average of 8 hours of sleep. In 2013, the average person was getting about 6.5 hours with many people clocking just 5 hours of sleep a night.
- At some point in their life, 31 per cent of drivers will have fallen asleep at the wheel due to sleep deprivation. Scary!
- People who get 5 hours or less of sleep every night are 50 per cent more likely of being obese.
Why do we sleep?
Studies have found that sleep enhances our creativity and our ability to process information and problem solve. In fact, some areas of the brain are more active during the sleep stage than during the awake stage!
Sleep deprivation can lead to
- poor memory
- poor judgment
- worsen symptoms of mental health issues
How to tell if you’re sleep-deprived
- if you take a long time to get up in the morning (think about how many times you hit the snooze button)
- need lots of stimulants throughout the day to stay awake
- grumpy, irritable
- your classmates, colleagues or friends tell you that you look tired
Tips for improved sleep
- try not to have any caffeine after lunch
- reduce your amount of light exposure 30 minutes before heading to bed (turn off your phone and computers)
- make your room as dark as possible
- ensure the temperature in your room is cool