Technology’s Affect on Mental Health

In this day and age, our lives are hugely supplemented by technology. Without our phones, laptops, tv’s, wireless routers, and Bluetooth devices our world would crash.

But is there a price to be paid for convenience and speed?

These devices, that most of us spend ten-plus hours on daily, emit something called blue light. This blue light can be detrimental to our health.

Technology’s interference with our circadian rhythm

The National Institute for General Sciences describes circadian rhythm as

“physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm.

Natural factors within the body produce circadian rhythms. However, signals from the environment also affect them. The main cue influencing circadian rhythms is daylight. Changing the light-dark cycles can speed up, slow down, or reset biological clocks as well as circadian rhythms.”

The body produces a hormone called melatonin which is known as the sleep hormone. This hormone regulates sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin production is affected by the light and dark cycle of our environment.

Darkness signals to our brain to begin producing more melatonin and when there is more light in the environment the brain is signaled to stop melatonin production.

Technology is used around the globe twenty-four hours a day. When technology is used at night, the blue light that is emitted from our devices interferes with our regular melatonin production and therefore our circadian rhythm.

Without melatonin, it is hard for our bodies to fall asleep and/or have the quality of sleep that is needed for recovery. A 2017 article found in Translational Psychiatry stated that “sleep disturbance is an important factor contributing to the onset and maintenance of mood disorders,” among other health problems.

American Psychological Association released a study that showed that the rates of mood disorders and suicides have dramatically increased in the last ten years. While it may still be somewhat controversial, studies are beginning to show the correlation between technology use, sleep disturbance, and the rise in mental illness.

What you can do

Harvard Health wrote an article about blue light stating,

“Researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.”

The Harvard article went on to describe how other colored light may have some effect on melatonin production, but that blue light was by far the biggest culprit in decreasing melatonin production. By decreasing your blue light exposure at night you may save yourself from experiencing health problems down the road.

Along with blue-blocking glasses, there are apps and filters that you can put on your phone and computer to block the blue light at night.

For further study check out these additional articles: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/should-you-be-worried-about-blue-light

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734149/

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Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Children

One might think that most of us should be experts at having emotional intelligence. It does seem common sense to be able to identify and understand what emotions are and what they look like in ourselves and others.

Psychology Today describes emotional intelligence as:

“… At least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and cheering up or calming down other people.”

Emotional regulation goes beyond just being able to label and identify emotions. It also includes being able to feel an emotion, but still be able to think logically. It is learning coping skills to help manage the emotions that you and those around you feel so that you can calm down and move past the emotion.

If you are anything like me, then you may have had times where you lost control of your temper and lashed out at a loved one or were so sad that you ate the whole Ben and Jerry’s carton to emotionally eat. Sound familiar?

If you can relate, then it’s proof that one, we’re human and two, that it is a hard skill to master. It is one that MANY adults still struggle with.

This is why teaching our children emotional intelligence at a young age can be a game changer.

Click here to purchase this printable poster.

5 STEPS OF EMOTION COACHING YOUR CHILD

Step 1: Be Aware of your child’s emotions.

Kids many times do not know how to express how they feel. To help emotion coach your child you must be aware and sensitive to your child’s feelings.

Pay attention to your child’s posture and their tone of voice. Is their head down? Are their fists clenched? What are they saying with their tone of voice?

All of these are insights into what your child is feeling and can help you understand them better.

Step 2: Recognize emotion as an opportunity for connection or teaching.

Once you have recognized your child’s emotion you are then able to use it as a teaching moment. You may have to use some of your own emotional regulation when teaching an angry or upset child, especially starting out.

Recognize that your child’s emotions are not a challenge or inconvenience. They are facing something that upsets them and they have not learned how to deal with the emotions they are feeling. This is why they act out or have tantrums.

Step 3: Help your child verbally label their emotions.

Next, ask your child how they feel. Allow them to express in words the emotions they are feeling and the reason they are feeling that way.

This is a teaching opportunity to help your child develop an awareness and a new vocabulary for the way they feel.

Step 4: Communicate empathy and understanding.

State back to your child what they said to make sure you understand how they feel. Understanding your child and listening to them will make them feel loved, heard, and important.

As you speak with your child make sure to make eye-contact and encourage them to use eye-contact as well. Eye-contact helps build a connection between people and helps them feel heard.

This will create an opportunity to connect with your child and teach them that it’s okay to express how they feel and learn to work through challenging emotions. Your listening to them will help soothe them as they work through their emotions and will help them develop the ability to self-soothe as they grow.

Step 5: Set limits and problem solve.
Teach your child that it is okay to feel angry, sad, annoyed, happy, anxious, etc, but that not all behaviors are acceptable. This will help your child learn appropriate ways to cope with their emotions and problem solve. Limit their expression to appropriate behaviors.

Be patient with your child. Remember, adults still struggle to mange their own emotions and emotional intelligence. children are learning this skill for the first time and will need more time to develop this skill. Also, remember that each child is unique and may take more or less time than one of their siblings.

Focus on connecting with your child and building that loving, safe, and open relationship. Your patience and consistency will help them develop this vital skill.

Reducing Stigma in Mental Health

What is a stigma?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stigma as:

” 1 a: a mark of shame or discredit: STAIN

b: plural usually stigmata: an identifying mark or characteristic specificallya specific diagnostic sign of a disease”

Stigmas are a defining mark or characteristic that sets someone apart from the group. They are a negative attitude or belief toward a certain group of people that we perceive to be different from ourselves. This stigma can cause us to be afraid or wary and can lead to discrimination.

Stigma in mental health

Those in a stigmatized population can experience isolation, discrimination, fewer opportunities in the workplace, verbal abuse, bullying, negative and misleading labels, and fear or mistrust from others.

If you have the fortune of never having to struggle with a mental illness, then you may not be able to understand or empathize with those who do.

Stigma shames those with mental illness, but mental illness is a condition just like any other medical condition. Would you ever shame someone for having diabetes? No. In like manner, we shouldn’t shame those who struggle with mental illness.

Stigma in mental illness is very common and can vary depending on the mental illness. These stigmas may be deliberate attitudes/beliefs that others choose to make or can be the by-product of ignorance.

Some examples of stigma in mental illness are:

  • ADD/ADHD: Those who struggle with ADD or ADHD might be labeled as lazy, as having a short attention span, or too energetic. They might be labeled as stupid because they struggle to pay attention in school and therefore get bad grades.
  • SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Someone with a substance abuse disorder might be labeled as a low-life or unmotivated. Others may think they choose to partake of the substance that they abuse and don’t realize that to them, it is a need or compulsion.
  • TRAUMA: Those with trauma-related disorders might be thought of as dramatic, attention seeking, or exaggerators. People may tell them that they just need to “Get over it,” and move on.
  • DEPRESSION: Those with depression might be labeled as isolated, moody, or negative. Others may think of them as insensitive or not capable of being in a relationship or friendship. Others tell them to be more positive and grateful and their mood will turn around. This tells them that it’s all in their head.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) stated:

“Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while stigma has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.”

How can we reduce it?

For those who don’t struggle with mental illness:

  • Educate yourself about mental illness. Mental illness isn’t just emotional, but also very biological in nature.
  • Be more aware of the harmful things you may ignorantly say to those who struggle with mental illness.
  • Be an advocate and a friend to those with mental illness.
  • Create a safe dialogue around the topic.

For those who struggle with mental illness:

  • Don’t define yourself by your mental illness. It is something you struggle with, not a definition of who you are.
  • Get help/treatment. Trained professionals will be able to help you with the struggles you are facing and you never have to go through it alone.
  • Join a support group.
  • Don’t be ashamed of your mental illness. Create dialogue in the community.

Education and Help

Here are some websites that have information concerning mental health, treatment options, and other tips on how to live with mental illness.

www.nami.org

www.MentalHealth.gov

www.ActiveMinds.org

www.MentalHealthAmerica.net

www.mentalhealth.org.uk

www.samhsa.gov

www.dbsalliance.org

www.bbrfoundation.org

www.rethink.org

Autism Awareness Month

April is national Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is recognized internationally as World Autism Awareness Day.

How is autism diagnosed?

In the United States, the most popular way of diagnosing mental disorders is through the diagnostic system created by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They frequently update their system and are currently on their 5th edition (DSM-5).

According to the DSM-5, Autism is now called autism spectrum disorder. Where someone lies on the spectrum is dependent on the severity of the symptoms.

According to WebMD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is:

“A complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors… ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.”

What are the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder typically appear within the first three years of a child’s life. Symptoms vary, but common symptoms are:

  • Speech delay in children
  • Flat speech
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor eye contact
  • Inappropriate social interaction
  • Repetitive movements
  • Self-harm
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Inability to understand or perceive others’ emotion
  • Tantrums and temper outbursts

Tips for parents who have children with autism

Raising a child is difficult, period. But raising a child that has Autism Spectrum Disorder brings other factors into play that can make it even more challenging especially for those who haven’t been around those with Autism.

1- Get your child tested.If you suspect your child is on the Autism spectrum, get them tested. Once you know if your child has Autism or not, learn all there is to know about Autism. This will help you understand your child better, be informed of the best treatment options, and find a community with support.

2- Be an expert on your child. Get to know your child’s individual triggers, agitations, what soothes them, what makes them happy, etc. Learning the intricacies of your child will help you know how to best help them and avoid situations that could potentially trigger them. Look for their non-verbal cues that help you know their mood, what they want, how they feel, etc.

3- Accepting what is. It may be hard not to compare your child with Autism to other children their age or even to their other siblings, but try to avoid this. Accepting your child’s individuality and quirks will help you learn to love and appreciate them for who they are. Instead of seeing the differences, you’ll begin to see the blessings that have come into your life by having such a special child.

tips for children with autism

1- Stability and Structure. Stability and structure are needed for every child, but even more so for children with ASD. Stability and structure help children feel safe and can help them know what to expect. Children with ASD especially crave this structure and may have tantrums if the schedule is not followed. Create a schedule for meal times, bedtime, fun time, etc.

2- Positive Reinforcement. Children with ASD are highly sensitive. Since a common symptom of ASD is the inability to correctly read and understand emotions and social cues, rewarding good behavior will go a lot further than trying to correct unwanted behavior. Give reward, praise, and love when good behavior is demonstrated. Be specific about what it is you are praising them for.

3- PLAY! A child with ASD is still a child and craves play time. Help them find ways where they can be creative and express themselves. Play helps children express themselves and ultimately makes them happier. Make sure to have time every day to play with your child.

National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disturbance in the brain’s normal function caused by a physical force, hit blow, jolt, etc to the head. This also includes rapid acceleration or deceleration (whiplash) which results in the brain hitting against the skull forcefully.

This can result in an impairment of cognitive or physical faculties as well as a loss of consciousness. The impairments and recovery time will vary depending on the severity of the force.

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Different types of TBI

Traumatic Brain Injury is diagnosed based on different criteria and is diagnosed on a spectrum of mild, moderate, to severe.

Mild injuries are diagnosed when there is a loss of consciousness of thirty minutes or less. Mild traumatic brain injuries are often called concussions and both names are commonly used interchangeably.

Moderate traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed if the loss of consciousness is more than thirty minutes, but less than twenty-four hours. Persons who have had a moderate TBI often have a hard time remembering or describing events that happened before or after the incident. They also commonly exprience an altered state of consciousness.

Severe traumatic brain injury is defined as the loss of consciousness for twenty-four hours or more. They will also have the same symptoms and side effects as those who have moderate TBI.

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tbi symptoms and recovery time

The CEMM Library has a whole list of side effects caused by the varying degrees of TBI. Some of those include:

PHYSICAL EFFECTS:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of stamina (easily fatigued)
  • Appetite changes
  • Chronic pain

COGNITIVE EFFECTS

  • Difficulty with attention, focus, or concentration
  • Distractibility
  • Memory problems
  • Slow speed of processing
  • Confusion
  • Perseveration, which is the abnormal persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act
  • Impulsiveness

SPEECH AND LANGUAGE EFFECTS

  • Slurred speech
  • Speaking very fast or very slow
  • Problems with reading comprehension

EFFECTS ON HEARING

  • Decrease or loss of hearing
  • Tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears
  • Increased sensitivity or intolerance to sounds

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL EFFECTS

  • Dependent behaviors
  • Fluctuating emotions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Denial or lack of awareness

Visit CEMM Library for their comprehensive list of symptoms one

Treatmen options

Mild TBI requires rest and not overstraining the brain by thinking too hard or working on the computer for too long. Mild TBI usually is healed by a couple of days to a couple of months.

Moderate to severe TBI tends to require more treatment outside of the initial treatment for stabilization. Additional types of therapy that might be needed include occupational, speech, physical, psychological, cognitive, and vocational. The types of therapies needed will be dependant on the individual, their level of trauma, and the types of symptoms present. Moderate to severe TBI takes can take as little as months or years for recovery, but the effects can also be permanent.


Neurofeedback

Neurodevelopment Center Inc stated:

“In 20 neurofeedback sessions, with feedback every half second, you get 72,000 chances to learn. That’s a lot of repetition and practice. Brain science has shown that repetitive exercise of brain networks reshapes the brain. Neurofeedback allows you to reshape networks in your brain after a traumatic brain injury. “

Neurofeedback helps train the brain to self-regulate its brain waves which in turn helps the client learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, improve cognitive functioning, and improve physical performance. Contact a provider near you for an in-depth consultation to see if neurofeedback is a good fit for you.

National Sleep Awareness Week

Do you find yourself feeling tired and sluggish all day even after a full night’s rest? If so, you may be part of the 20% of the population who suffer from day time sleepiness.

Day time sleepiness may be one of the most common plagues of our day and while its prevalence may not be a surprise, there are many health risks and pesky side effects associated with poor sleep that many people aren’t aware of. We will be discussing what contributes to sleep health and why sleep is so important.

consequences of poor sleep

Most people know that if they don’t get enough sleep then they will be tired the next morning. What some don’t realize is that some of the consequences associated with poor sleep go far beyond just being tired the next day.

Those who don’t sleep enough can have difficulty with mental processes such as recalling, retaining, and processing information, concentration, or may have sudden mood changes or irritability.

Lack of sleep can wear you and your body down. Not being in a good mood the day after a long night of binge watching your favorite Netflix show is fine and good (and should be done every now and then), but what are the risks associated with consistently not getting enough sleep? Those who consistently lack sleep or lack enough quality sleep have a greater risk of weakening their immune system and ,therefore, getting sick, having a low sex drive, and gaining weight. Just to name a few.

But unfortunately it doesn’t end there. The longer you go being sleep deprived the greater risk you have for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Luckily there is a lot you can control when it comes to your sleep and there are a lot of things you can do to help increase the quality of your sleep.

how to increase your sleep health

Here is a list of things you can do to increase the amount and quality of sleep you are getting.

  1. PLAN FOR SLEEP: Plan ahead of time so that your daily activities end early enough for you to get enough shut eye. There are sleep calculators out there you can use to figure out how many hours of sleep you need to feel refreshed as well as suggestions for when to go to bed and what time to wake up.
  2. KEEP TO A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE: Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. The consistency helps your body self-regulate and makes it easier to go to bed and get up in the morning.
  3. KNOW YOURSELF: Know the amount of hours that make you feel the best. It is recommended that kids sleep between 8-12 hours, teens between 8-10 hours, and adults sleep between 7-9 hours each night. If it is recommended that you sleep 7-9 hours but always feel better when you sleep around six hours then do that. Know the hour range that works best with your body.
  4. LET THE LIGHT IN: Opening the windows first thing in the morning helps kickstart your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our body’s natural sleep/wake cycle and it is directly influenced by light and darkness. The light lets our body know that it is time to be awake, to move, and to have energy. Adversely, the darkness tells our body that it is time to shut down, relax, and go to sleep.
  5. NAP EARLY OR DONT NAP AT ALL: Napping (especially later in the evening) can mess with our circadian rhythm and also throw off our sleep schedule. If we nap too late in the evening we will not feel tired at the time we would normally get tired.
  6. DECREASE SCREEN TIME: All electronics emit a blue light that interferes with the circadian rhythm, telling your body that it’s time to be awake. Using electronics especially late at night will greatly interfere with your sleep and the quality of sleep you are getting. Try to decrease your over all screen time during the day, turn off all electronics at least an hour before going to bed, use blue light blocking glasses, or install apps on your phone that block blue light to get better sleep quality.
  7. EXERCISE DAILY: Daily exercise helps expel energy and naturally aid in being tired.
  8. DECREASE STIMULANTS: Having too many stimulants during the day or taking them too late at night will affect your sleep/wake cycle or the ability to go to bed. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, teas, or coffee too late at night.
  9. SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE TIRED: Go to sleep when you feel like sleeping. If you push past the sleepiness to finish whatever you may be doing at the time, you can finish your task and find that you are not tired. By ignoring your body you tell it that you are staying awake and to produce energy. This can make it difficult to fall asleep later on.
  10. LOWER YOUR BEDROOM TEMPERATURE: A lower bedroom temperature is conducive to sleep. A cooler temperature helps you fall asleep quicker.
  11. NO FOOD BEFORE BED: Eat a light dinner or eat at least two hours before you go to bed. Having food in our stomachs can make it hard to go to sleep because digestion does not work very well while we are sleeping and can lead to digestive problems.
  12. NIGHTTIME RITUAL: Having a routine is crucial in teaching your body when it’s time to go to sleep. If you have a nightly routine to wind down, you will teach your body to begin getting tired once you start that routine.
  13. USING NOISE MACHINES: Are you a light sleeper? Or do you find it hard to fall asleep because your mind is racing? Using white noises, ocean sounds, meditations, instrumental music, etc can help one settle their mind, allow them to fall asleep, and to block out other noises so they stay asleep.
  14. LIMIT TOSSING AND TURNING: It may seem counterintuitive, but if you are having a hard time falling asleep it is better to get up out of bed instead of tossing and turning for hours. The stress caused by not being able to fall asleep increases a stress hormone called cortisol. Once this is release it will become even harder to fall asleep. Instead, get up and do a repetitive action such as wash dishes, fold laundry, etc until you start to get sleepy and then go back to bed.

Get help

If after trying everything on your own and still not being able to go to sleep or wake up feeling refreshed, you should consult a physician. You may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. A physician is trained to help you work with these disorders to get better sleep.

Your quality of life will greatly increase by bettering your sleep habits and seeking professional help if needed. Sweet dreams!

Self-acceptance

If you’ve been following our blog posts you’ll have noticed that this month is focus on self-love. As we’ve discussed in the previous posts, self-love is quite ambiguous and there are a lot of different facets to dive into to truly master the art of it.

This week we will be focusing on how to improve your self-love through self-acceptance. 

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-acceptance is defined as:

 

“: the act or state of accepting oneself the act or state of understanding and recognizing one’s own abilities and limitations.

//In each moment you’re either practicing self-acceptance—or you’re judging yourself.— Linda Arnold”

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Moving toward self-acceptance

The first steps towards greater self-acceptance are: 

1-Recognize your faults, your strengths, your likes, your dislikes, and everything else that makes you, you. 
2-Completely accept all parts of you without qualification, conditions, stipulations, or exceptions.
3-Let go of others expectations of you and take back your power by not caring what other people think.

STeps 1 & 2

 

The first two steps may be harder than they appear. They mean to embrace your rock star traits and qualities… but also to accept the less than stellar parts– the parts we like to keep secret, hidden away. The first two steps of recognition and acceptance must occur in order to get to the third step. You cannot let go of others’ opinions of you unless you are comfortable and accepting of yourself first.

To begin working on the first two steps you must stop downplaying your great qualities.  Acknowledge them to yourself. Be confident and proud of who you are. Being confident and proud are very different from being conceited and vain. You are proud of the accomplishments, good traits, and are able to recognize the amazing qualities of others. Why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself? Own who you are. Take pride in being you! 

While it is a lot easier to accept the good, you cannot be fully self-accepting unless you embrace the bad as well. Is it hard? You betcha. You may be asking yourself, “Isn’t that counterintuitive though? Shouldn’t I reject the things I don’t like about myself in order to change them?”

While it may seem counterintuitive, most people don’t realize that it is the only way to begin self-improvement and growth. You cannot heal, change, or grow unless you are in a state of love and understanding. Healing does not happen in a place of judgement or ridicule. You must move from rejection and resistance to understanding and peace. Make peace with your short temper, your ugly feet, your procrastination, or whatever your faults and shortcomings may be, and you will find the freedom and an increased ability to be at peace with them or overcome them. 

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step 3

Once you are accepting and understanding of all sides of yourself you will stop looking to outside sources to feel loved, worthy, or validated because you will find it all from within.  You will love yourself and know you innately are worthy and deserve to be loved. It will become easy to let go of the opinions of others because their opinion will not change who you are or your worth. 

This means, you do not have to do things to please other people, you can let go of others expectations of you, and you can be you to your fullest, without reservation or apology. Do you have a dream of being a rodeo star? Or to sing on broadway? Don’t be embarrassed of these dreams. Someone else is doing them, why can’t you?

Just because other people do not share the same dream or understand its importance does not mean it is silly and an unworthy goal.  As long as it is important to you, it is important and you should own it no matter how odd or quirky it may seem to someone else. Do what makes you happy. Your happiness is the only one you are in control of. 

 

 

 

Get help

Working on self-acceptance is an individual process, but sometimes we have deep-rooted beliefs or issues that oppose our commendable efforts. This ultimately can keep us back, no matter how much we try. This is typically where most of us give up because it seems impossible to move past. 

It can be a little uncomfortable at first, but reaching out to a trained professional such as a therapist or counselor can help you get out of your own head and move past whatever is keeping you from fully and truly accepting yourself. You are worth the effort, time, and money and deserve to live an exuberant life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-love Through Self-care

Self-care is a hot topic these days, but when actually done, a lot of people feel guilty or selfish for doing something for themselves.  If this resonates with you, take a moment and reflect on this quote:

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. You must fill your own cup first.”

– Author unknown.

What if you couldn’t afford NOT to take care of yourself? What if taking care of yourself first meant that you had more love, more energy, more joy, more quality time, and just plain more of yourself to give to others? Self-care and self-love aren’t a form of selfishness, but are a way to ensure that we are taken care of first so that we have more to give to those we love.

Below are a list of ways to have self-care in all 5 of the areas of wellness.

Physical self-care

Grooming

For grooming make sure to keep good personal hygiene, have presentable hair, dress in clean clothes,  men shave your face or trim your facial hair, and women put on make up or jewelry or whatever helps you feel nice. Good grooming can help increase self-confidence, self-esteem, and when you respect yourself, others will respect you more as well.

Exercise

Exercise tends to have a negative connotation, but exercise doesn’t have to be grueling and strenuous. Exercise can be simple and the purpose is to get your body moving. Types of movement include walking, bike riding, dancing, yoga, stretching, and so much more.

Finding a movement that is enjoyable and that resonates with your body has major health benefits. Exercise releases a happy hormone called endorphins, it can increase your energy and focus, aid in bone density, and decrease risks of chronic disease.

Diet

One of the most important aspects of physical self-care is nutrition. What we eat affects everything in our bodies from hormones, energy levels, mental state, gut health, and illness. Almost more important than how much you eat is what you eat.

The easiest way to better the quality of food consumed is to focus on small, manageable changes that move you closer to a healthier lifestyle. This could be changing one of your snacks to a healthier alternative, changing one or two processed carbohydrates that you routinely eat to more complex carbohydrates i.e.  whole grains, oats, lentils, beans, fruits,  and vegetables, or substitute some of your caffeinated beverages/juices for water.

These are a couple of simple ways to get a head start on your nutrition and taking care of your body from the inside out. You only have one body after all so take care of it.

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Mental/Emotional self-care

Mental wellness is very distinct from emotional wellness, but they are both so closely related that it is hard to differentiate between the two. Because they both influence one another we will be grouping them together here.

Mental wellness deals with the ability to process information while emotional wellness is the ability to express your emotions based on what your mind processed. If one’s mind is altered by anxiety they might be so fixated on one thing that they wouldn’t process their surrounding information like normal. If they are unable to process information accurately, then their reaction to the situation would also be altered.

Here is a list of ways that we can give ourselves some love mentally and emotionally.

Mental
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Drink enough water
  • Practice gratitude
  • Serve others
  • Get a mental workout
  • Manage stress
  • Have a hobby that brings you happiness
emotional
  • The above list will apply to emotional health as well
  • Be more mindful- be present in the moment, be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and environment
  • Foster healthy relationships and cut out negative relationships
  • Accept your emotions
  • Speak up for yourself
  • Be inspired
  • Laugh

social self-care

Social wellness is our perception of belonging in relationships and how we interact with others. The best way to increase your social wellness is first to identify your specific needs. Do you like having a lot of friends or do you prefer a smaller circle with closer relationships? Identifying your needs will help you know how to proceed to fulfill those needs.

Ways to improve social wellness include:

  • Be more approachable. Smile and let people know you are open to talking
  • Pursue your interests and find like-minded people
  • Join a club or a group
  • Listen more intently and be more engaged when talking with others
  • Reach out and keep in contact with supportive family and friends

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Spiritual self-care

Spirituality is the quality and consciousness of the human spirit or soul. It is a connection with something greater than ourselves. This could be worshipping a God or deity, connecting with Mother Earth or the Universe. The best way to develop spiritual self-care is to start. Find something that feels right to you and don’t be afraid to explore it.  Finding our spirituality can help fill a hole we never realized we had.