4 Steps to Improving Your Mental Health Through Better Sleep

When we don’t get enough quality sleep, most of us worry primarily about how tired we’ll feel the next day. It’s only when it becomes an ongoing, chronic issue that some of us start to realize the mental impact of poor sleep. It’s not just that we feel low, stressed, or unfocused: Research has shown that sleep deprivation could be a cause of certain psychological disorders as well as a symptom of it. Luckily, a few simple changes to your sleep habits and environment can be enough to improve your quality of sleep, and in turn ensure your mental well-being. 

Guest Post by: Stephanie Haywood from MyLifeBoost.com

Photo Credit: Photo via Unsplash.

When we don’t get enough quality sleep, most of us worry primarily about how tired we’ll feel the next day. It’s only when it becomes an ongoing, chronic issue that some of us start to realize the mental impact of poor sleep. It’s not just that we feel low, stressed, or unfocused: Research has shown that sleep deprivation could be a cause of certain psychological disorders as well as a symptom of it. Luckily, a few simple changes to your sleep habits and environment can be enough to improve your quality of sleep, and in turn ensure your mental well-being. 

Dr. Stacy can help you create a personalized mental map to help you reach your health and fitness goals. Schedule an appointment today!

Make Your Bed as Comfortable as Possible

Start with the obvious. If you want to sleep well, you need to make sure your bed is perfectly suited for it. If you haven’t switched mattresses in a while, you may want to invest in one of the new “bed in a box” models. Next, focus on your pillows. According to Good Housekeeping, the key to a good pillow is providing a neutral alignment with your spine. In general, this means side sleepers need thicker, firmer pillows, and stomach sleepers will need thinner pillows. 

Assess Your Environment

Your room should be geared toward restful sleep. If there’s too much light, try installing blackout curtains. Noisy city dwellers could benefit from a white noise machine. Too warm at night? Open your windows or get a fan.

If you get too warm or too cold during the night, you may want to invest in a fan or portable heater. Alternatively, if you fear expensive electric bills, something as simple as opening the window or buying warmer pajamas can make a world of difference. 

Last but not least, make sure that you keep your bedroom organized. Disorganization can lead to you experiencing feelings of anxiety, which can very easily disrupt your sleep. In addition to keeping your room clutter-free, make sure you take the time to clean your bedroom doors and windows. Every little bit can make the space more relaxing.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

If you tend to lie awake in bed going over the day’s problems, your problem has less to do with your environment and more to do with the state of mind you are in when you go to bed. In order to prepare your mind for sleep, create a bedtime ritual that relaxes you and winds you down. 

You could, for example, have a soothing herbal tea with sleep-inducing properties, such as chamomile, passionflower, lavender, lemongrass, or valerian root. You could also take a long hot bath or shower or read a few pages of a book. A few stretches can also be extremely effective, and they have the added bonus of soothing sore or tense muscles. You can do knee-to-chest stretches for lower back pains, lunges for sore glutes, and child’s pose for releasing neck tension. 

Once you’re in bed, meditation can be an extremely effective way to stop spiraling thoughts. Popular meditation app Headspace has an entire section dedicated to sleep, including guided meditations as well as relaxing sounds and music. If guided meditation isn’t your thing, try taking some deep breaths to clear your head and relax your body. 

Get Moving

Your quality of sleep is not just linked to your bedtime habits. What you do throughout the rest of the day also matters. The best example of this is exercise. In itself, exercise is excellent for both your physical and mental health. However, regular exercise is also linked to good sleep, with several studies showing that people who work out tend to sleep better.

It doesn’t matter when you work out, and it doesn’t even have to be intense exercise. As long as you do it regularly, you will likely see an improvement in your quality of sleep within a few weeks. 

Every night, our minds and bodies have the opportunity to rest, reset, and process the day’s events. If your environment and habits aren’t geared to allow this, it is going to be a lot more difficult for you to get the sleep you need to feel mentally well. Start by identifying what your barriers to sleep are, and then address each one individually until you have perfected your sleep routine. Your mind will thank you. 

How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Self-Care Getaway

We all need a break sometimes but it can be hard to find the money to take a vacation. Here’s some budget friendly ideas to get the rest and self care you need.

Guest Post by Cheryl Conklin at www.wellnesscentral.info

Photo Credit: Pexels

Do you ever feel like you’re just dying for a vacation? It may be truer than you think. Non-stop work with no quality breaks is definitely bad for your creativity, productivity, and even your physical and mental health. However, many of us go for years or longer without taking a trip to get away from it all. This delay often comes down to costs. That said, there are plenty of ways to affordably manage a self-care-focused getaway.

Search for Deals

To get the absolute most bang for your buck, try to find travel deals you can use to help finance your trip. For example, you can book your rental car, hotel stays, and other travel costs through sites like Google Flights, Hotels.com and Hotwire. Another fruitful way to save money on your trip is to check tourist sites and travel companies. These agencies understand the expenses involved in vacation, and by offering discounts, they can bring in customers they otherwise couldn’t reach. So, look around online or reach out to your destination’s tourism office to figure out what kinds of offers are available.

If you want to save even more and will be gone more than one night, consider a private rental. Not only will you have more space, but you’ll also save on dining out since you’ll have access to a kitchen. Plus, privacy is much more attainable when you’re in your own space, meaning you can get more out of your self-care endeavours. 

Hit the Road

One great low-cost way to travel is to go on a road trip. You can make the most of your journey by stopping at plenty of destinations on the way. Not only does this give you the chance to experience places you’d probably never see otherwise, but it’s also relatively low-cost. Roadside attractions know they’re riding on tourist interest, so they have to stay affordable.

Go Camping

Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of urban living? Consider going camping. This is a great way to connect with nature and get some time away from phone screens and car horns. Since campground fees are usually low, you only need to worry about the cost of gear. If you don’t have your own tent, don’t fear — you can rent camping gear through outdoor shops. If nothing like that’s available near you, ask your friends; Someone may have gear you can use. If you need to buy gear, avoid costly camping retail stores and look to sites like Overstock instead. Here, you can find all the equipment you need at a lower price, especially if you can tack on promotions or coupons. 

Go for the Secret Staycation

Getting away doesn’t always require actually getting away. Simply spending time off work and out of your routine can go a long way toward giving yourself the break you need. However, to really nail in these benefits, keep your stay-at-home plans to yourself. Anyone you tell has the potential to stop by or expect you to come hang out since “you’re free, you can make it!” By just saying “I’m on vacation that week” and leaving out any specific details about your time off, you can make a staycation a legitimate retreat.

Consider Voluntourism

Finally, you can get some time away from your regular routine and help the world all at once by embracing voluntourism. These sorts of trips are usually lower cost since you’re not traveling to hit the beach and lounge. These usually come with a lot of hard work and often require significant manual labor. However, when the workday is done, you’re free to explore the area and have some time to yourself. These trips aren’t for everyone, and if you work a physical job, they may not be the respite you really need. However, working with your hands can be a surprisingly effective breather for those who spend most of their days at a desk.

Vacation isn’t just fun; it’s legitimately good for you. Getting some time away from your regular routine is some of the absolute best self-care you can give yourself. By finding affordable ways to travel, you can take the trip you need to recharge your batteries.

Using the Exercise Training Window to Help Navigate Nervous System Regulation

The more I work with people using energy systems, the more I realize that one way into our experience is manipulating our “work” load. As we work on pushing up against our anaerobic threshold we can learn to expand our arousal level and increase our ability to self regulate.

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Enjoyable and Invaluable Skills 
You Can Learn Online at Any Age

Many people spend a good portion of their free time watching TV or mindlessly browsing the internet. But when you have an exciting and productive activity you can enjoy outside of work, you can finally feel like you’re using every second of your day to its fullest. Plus, learning something new or taking up a hobby can be great for one’s mental health.

Guest Post: Justin Bennett from Healthy Fit Info

Photo Credit: Pexel

Learning something new or picking up a hobby doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive process either. Fortunately, living in the tech age means that the foundations of almost any skill can be learned over the internet. Don’t know how you want to spend your time? Here are some ideas from therapist Stacy Reuille-Dupont.

Learn How to Make Music

Learning an instrument isn’t just an extracurricular activity for kids. Many adults discover their desire to play a certain instrument after hearing a piece of music that they really enjoyed. Once you know the instrument you want to learn, the next hardest part is mastering your patience. Learning music requires dedicating plenty of time to practice. If you expect to become an expert overnight, you’ll be severely disappointed. Understand that practicing music requires your brain to work harder, as you use your hands and various parts of your brain all at once. Because of the patience and dedication required, older students may actually be able to learn music more easily than younger peers. There are many instrument-learning apps available such as Uberchord and Simply Piano, or you can look to online courses.

Try Graphic Design

Graphic design is a great skill to have that is not only fun and creative but can be lucrative as well. Knowing basic Photoshop skills and how to create simple graphics can help boost the professionalism of anything you create. Format Magazine recommends checking out various free online courses to further hone your design skills. Many of these are offered by universities or other graphic design experts.

Learn At Your Pace, Enhance Your Career!

If you’ve considered pursuing an advanced degree but aren’t sure you’ll be able to keep up with the pace of full-time college, online degree programs offer the flexibility for you to set the pace of your learning. And there are programs for just about any industry: informational technology, business, accounting, teaching – you get it. The beauty of an online degree is having the ability to adjust your coursework to your schedule. If you end up with more time than you thought, you can accelerate, and if you get bogged down by other things, you can slow your pace. And once you finish, you’ll be positioned to not only get your foot in the door of employers, but also ace the interviews and launch your new dream job. 

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Get Crafty with Woodworking

Woodworking is something that many of us dabbled in during a single shop class in high school. However, learning how to work with wood can help you fix things around the house, enable you to create furniture like shelves and chairs, and even improve mental health. Much of the knowledge employed in woodworking can be picked up online from experts who are eager to share their experience. You can learn things like how to use various tools, the basics of measuring, and how to properly finish wood.

Become a Pro Dog Trainer

Learning dog training techniques will allow you to better tame your own pet, help out friends and family with their furry friends, or even make some side cash offering training sessions to clients. Many of the essential commands that dogs need to understand are fairly easy to teach if you have a solid grasp of behavior modification techniques. For the most part, dog training involves connecting signals or words to the dog’s natural behaviors. These connections are strengthened by rewards such as praise or clicking sounds.

Learn the Art of Self-Defense

Self-defense is a skill that can save your life one day. Plus, knowing how to defend yourself from a potential attacker can help you feel more at ease and confident when you’re walking around alone. Although self-defense is best practiced with a partner, you can learn many of the moves on your own by following lessons online or through apps.

Turn Your Social Media Addiction Into a Skill

Many people aren’t aware that social media is one of the strongest marketing tools available today. Reaching consumers is easier than ever before thanks to the prevalence of social media and online communities. If you love being on social media, you can turn that passion into a very desirable skill by learning the basics of social media marketing. It’s easy to find plenty of advice online as well as courses offered by successful entrepreneurs.

From learning the fine details of woodworking to the simplicity of making music, you’ll never regret your decision to learn a new skill. Whatever activity attracts you, take the time to indulge in it and learn how to improve. You’ll soon be able to use your new talent to help others, provide entertainment, and even make some extra money if you’re lucky!