A series of blog entries on loss / bereavement, stress / anger management, life transition counselling, couples relationships, health / nutrition, CBD - THC consultation, spirituality / metaphysics, . The blog is also about trying to understand 'Life' and its purpose through the ever evolving mind of a psychotherapist. Dr Milot, Ph.D. is the author of: 'Rising From The Ashes of Loss, My Voyage Through Grief'.
... To grieve properly, I need to create a new relationship with Louise while keeping her memory alive in my heart. I need to create a new identity for myself and develop new ways to function in the post-loss world. As difficult as it may be, disconnecting from the suffering associated with the memory of the lost happy couple that we once were is what I unwillingly need to do. I must now think in terms of 'I' instead of 'we' if I want to survive in my new world, my new reality. Losing Louise who lovingly shared my life for thirty-eight years is like losing half of me. Now I need to become a wizard and invent some king of magical trick to patch myself up and become whole again. At least, this is how it feels and at times, I seriously doubt my abilities to do so. I concede the show must go on and I relentlessly start over a new set of breathing exercises.
The days become weeks and I am making more and more progress with my exercises. There are the usual ups and downs of course and the downs of my wild roller coaster ride seem to be less dramatic nowadays. Time though remains a problem, as I have too much of it. After spending twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for three years taking care of Louise while she was sick, the space that she left when she died is immeasurable and has become an extremely heavy burden on me. Minutes seem like hours and hours feel like days and I am fighting like a lion to reorganize my distorted concept of time. It is hard, very hard not to think of her and ignore the sick feeling of loss haunting me, when everything I see, smell and touch sorrowfully reminds me of our time together, who we were and who we are not anymore.
At regular intervals in my quest to rise from the ashes of loss I have felt the need to let go and dispose of material things that triggered too much pain and kept me attached to my pre-loss era. Louise’s belongings, her clothes, the memorabilia’s, and most of the personal and business files that we had in common have all gone, and if I have not outright gotten rid of them, I have already learned to disconnect emotionally from those objects. The pictures though I have not touch yet, that will come later, much later. Some say that they should be packed away in a box and not looked at before we feel we are ready for them. That sometimes can take years for obvious reasons, and I sure as hell am not ready for that yet ...
While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, our culture generally frowns upon mid-day sleep; however, even in those who get enough sleep (but particularly in those who don’t), many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking. And research shows that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning with a nap.
Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency, and better health. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you!
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Most experts agree that the body needs 7-9 hours of sleep per day, depending on personal and genetic factors. Some research shows that 6 hours or less triples your risk of a car accident. (Interestingly, too much sleep--more than 9 hours--can actually be harmful for your health; studies show that those who sleep more than 9 hours per day don’t live as long as their 8-hour-sleep counterparts!)
The Effects of Missed Sleep
Sleep is cumulative; if you lose sleep one day, you feel it the next. If you miss adequate sleep several days in a row, you build up a ‘sleep deficit’, which impairs the following:
Fatigued people also experience more moodiness, aggressive behaviors, burnout and more stress.
The Benefit of a Power Nap
Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own).
The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.
How Long Should I Sleep?
When you sleep you pass through different stages of sleep, known together as a sleep cycle. These stages include light sleep, deep sleep (which is believed to be the stage in which the body repairs itself), and rapid-eye movement sleep, or REM sleep (during which the mind is repaired).
Many experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, especially if your sleep deficit is relatively small. However, research has shown that a 1-hour nap has many more restorative effects than a 30-minute nap, including a much greater improvement in cognitive functioning. The key to taking a longer nap is to get a sense of how long your sleep cycles are, and try to awaken at the end of a sleep cycle. (It’s actually more the interruption of the sleep cycle that makes you groggy, rather than the deeper states of sleep.)
As there are pros and cons to each length of sleep, you may want to let your schedule decide: if you only have 15 minutes to spare, take them!
But if you could work in an hour nap, you may do well to complete a whole sleep cycle, even if it means less sleep at night. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, just close your eyes; even a brief rest has the benefit of reducing stress and helping you relax a little, which can give you more energy to complete the tasks of your day.
Tips For a More Effective Nap
If you want to obtain more sleep, and the health benefits that go with getting enough sleep, here are some tips for more effective napping and sleep at night:
Avoid caffeine after 3pm. It’s a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep and stay in your system longer than you think; its half-life is four to six hours!
If you don’t want to nap a long time, set an alarm.
If you don’t have time for a power nap, or don’t feel comfortable napping during the day, try meditation; it gives your body a rest and produces slower brain waves similar to sleep.
When looking for ways to manage stress, people often overlook one of the simplest and most effective strategies: create a peaceful home. Because most of our days begin and end at home, having a peaceful home as your base can help you launch yourself into the world from a less-stressed place each day. (Children appreciate this, too!)
Because this seems like such a given, why don’t people put more focus on discovering and assembling the elements of a peaceful home?
It’s a paradox that many of us experience—even though home is important, the need to take care of the structure and workings of our homes may not seem like as pressing of a need as others we experience day-to-day. When we’re rushing to get out the door in the morning, or collapsing on the couch after a long day, cleaning and organizing may seem like a ridiculous pursuit. However, when you consider the value of creating an inspiring place to wake up to, a soothing place to come home to, and a relaxing place to live, it becomes apparent that time and energy put into creating a peaceful home can translate into energy saved and stress relieved. Here are a few more reasons to create a peaceful home.
The Toll of Clutter In ways many people don’t realize, clutter costs. It drains us of time, energy, and even money! Learn more about the hidden cost of clutter.
Fun With Friends and Family One of my favorite clutter-clearing experts, FlyLady, refers to a cluttered environment as living in CHAOS: Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome! I love this acronym because it’s so true—who can relax with friends and family in a messy home? Probably not you or your guests! Because of the benefits of social support, and the stress relieving benefits of having fun with friends, it’s even more helpful to have an environment where everyone can relax and have fun
Raise Your Energy Levels The eastern practice of Feng Shui—the ancient art of placement—is gaining popularity all over the globe, as people notice that their surroundings can influence the way they feel and the energy that they have. Feng Shui holds that the placement and type of objects in our surroundings can affect our energy or chi. Whether or not you are interested in Feng Shui, you have probably noticed that cluttered environments can be an energy drain—even if just because there’s so much to look at (and everything you see is a reminder of cleaning that should be done)! Maintaining an uncluttered, peaceful home can make you feel more energetic and relaxed at the same time.
Now that you know why it's important to maintain a peaceful home, let's cover how. The including several peace-promoting elements in your home can make it a more soothing and enjoyable place to be. When trying to convert your home into a more peaceful space, consider the following elements of a peaceful home.
Pare Down, Organize, and Decorate
These are the classic activities people think of when they think of home makeovers. Getting rid of clutter can help you plug up energy drains all over your home. Organizing your things can help you to know where everything is, and have a place to put everything in your home so that clean-up goes very quickly. Decorating, using colors and themes that truly speak to you, can help you feel relaxed and energized at the same time as you look around and take in the beauty, order, and style of your home. The following resources can help you with this step:
One of the challenges of maintaining stress relieving habits is that we get busy and let other activities in our lives come first. If we build in a physical space for our stress-soothing habits, we have a physical reminder, as well as a facilitator, to help us maintain the motivation to keep these habits in our lives.
As I mentioned earlier, many people have reaped the stress relief benefits of Feng Shui and swear by the practice. As you're making changes to create a peaceful home environment, factoring in a little Feng Shui (or a lot) can bring long-term benefits, as once you incorporate the stress relieving elements of Feng Shui, you don't have to constantly maintain most of the changes--they're just part of your decor. Learn more about Feng Shui here.
Because aromatherapy is getting a lot of buzz these days, it's easy to find products that provide a wonderful, soothing scent for a room. And the hype isn't unwarranted; aromatherapy research shows that there are real stress relief benefits to its use. Aromatherapy can help create a peaceful home that subtly offers passive stress relief, making it a recommended element of a peaceful home. Learn more on how to incorporate aromatherapy into your environment.
Music is another of those wonderful stress relievers that, like aromatherapy, offers passive stress relief, can energize or relax you (depending on the type you use), and can offer benefits that are better than you might imagine. (Read about the stress relief benefits of music.) Incorporating music into the background can help contribute to a peaceful home environment--it's a great way to relieve the stress of those you're with, and relieve your own stress at the same time, without much effort. Read more about music and stress relief.
As several studies and a recent poll on this site have indicated, people experience plenty of stress from jobs, finances and other areas of our lives. When we come home, we want to feel like we’re entering a refuge, safe from the demands of life. But does your home provide a safe harbor from stress, or is it causing you additional stress that you might not be aware of? If you have a cluttered, poorly decorated or somewhat disorganized living space, home relaxation can be virtually impossible!
Fortunately, this article has some information that can really help. With a little work, your home could be another stress management tool at your disposal. Here’s why:
Clutter Stresses You:
Just sitting in a cluttered room can create stress. Whether you conceptualize this in Feng Shui terms as ‘stagnant chi’, in cerebral terms as too much information for the eye to process, or in practical terms as a visual reminder of how much work you have to do to get your house clean, you probably already know that mess means stress. Living in a cluttered home can create constant low-grade stress and subtly but steadily drain your energy.
Soothing Surroundings are Nurturing:
Being in a space characterized by order, tranquility, and a physical manifestation of your tastes, on the other hand, can soothe you and help release stress. (This is how marketers sell products from catalogs so efficiently; they are really ‘selling’ the sense of peace that comes from the beauty of the picture as much as they’re selling the products contained in that picture of a beautiful room
This is why lingerie catalogs use exotic surroundings as well as beautiful women to sell real-life women bras and panties!) Coming home to an orderly home can help you feel like you’re entering a sanctuary away from the stresses of the outside world.
Organized Homes Save Time, Money and Other Resources:
A messy, disorganized home can cost you more than just your inner peace.
If you don’t have a ‘home’ for all of your belongings, you spend more time trying to put things away when you’re cleaning up, and waste time looking for items when you need them. If you don’t have an organized system for filing your bills and other important papers, you may end up paying things late, which results in fees and additional stress. There are many other ways your mess may be draining your resources that you don’t even realize.
A Well-Ordered Home May Bring More Good Things:
Followers of the Chinese discipline Feng Shui believe that a well-ordered home aligns vital energy in your life to bring good fortune in other areas of your life. Others simply enjoy the soothing surroundings that come with the balanced decorating style that feng shui espouses because they are aesthetically pleasing. Whether or not you believe that Feng Shui brings special good fortune, given the above information, it’s hard to argue that an organized home wouldn’t bring additional benefits, chief among them being reduced stress.
So, while Spring presents a great excuse to get your home in order, any time is the right time to create an organized, soothing atmosphere to come home to. You can simplify your life and reduce the daily stress you experience by putting in relatively minimal effort.
This article has some valuable information on how you can de-clutter, organize and decorate your home in a low-stress way, and keep it that way with minimal hassle. Let your home be your sanctuary!
Between work, family and other obligations, stress is a common part of life. But while it's something we all deal with from time to time, stress can have a negative impact on your health. Worry and overwork can lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits, which causes more stress, leading to a very harmful cycle. For example, if you are facing a very tight deadline at work, you might make poor choices about what to eat, relying on sugar and caffeine to get you through the day.
Unfortunately, these food choices can create more stress in the long run, as well as other problems. Below is a list of common bad habits people sometimes indulge in when overwhelmed and worried:
Drinking Too Much Coffee: When burning the candle at both ends, you may find yourself drinking several cups of coffee through the day to keep yourself going.
Eating The Wrong Foods: Due partially to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, stressed people tend to crave foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. Many will turn to potato chips, ice cream or other junk foods after a rough day.
Skipping Meals: When you are juggling a dozen things at once, eating a healthy meal often drops down in priorities. You might find yourself skipping breakfast because you're running late or not eating lunch because there's just too much on your to-do list.
Mindless Munching: Conversely, stress also makes us prone to emotional eating, where we eat despite not being hungry but eat because it feels comforting.
Forgetting Water: With busy lives, it’s easy to forget to drink your water, In fact, a good portion of Americans drink no water, and get water only from soda or coffee.
Fast Food: People these days eat at home less than in generations past, as it’s easier to just drive through a fast food place or go to a restaurant than to go home and cook something. Unfortunately, this gets expensive and is often unhealthy.
Crash Diets: Because of weight gain from stress, some people intentionally eat less food than they need, or try dangerous fad diets in order to lose the excess weight. Diets that aren’t balanced with fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy carbohydrates can often be bad for your health in the long run, even if they look attractive short term.
Impact of Bad Habits on Your Health
Blood Sugar Imbalances: When you don’t eat enough food or don’t eat food with necessary nutrients, you can experience blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations can lead to mood swings, fatigue, poor concentration and other negative consequences in the short term, and greater health problems like hyperglycemia in the long run.
Caffeine Side Effects: Too much caffeine can lead to poor concentration, lower levels of productivity, sleep disturbances and increased levels of cortisol in the blood, as well as other negative effects.
Poor Health Outcomes: Poor nutrition can also lead to lowered immunity so you’re more susceptible to illnesses, both minor and major. As you can imagine, this can lead to other problems, including increased stress levels because you're sick when a major project is coming up.
There are several things you can do to make healthy food choices, no matter how packed your schedule may be.
Here’s a list of 10 ways to ensure better nutrition that can work for even the busiest people. Try some or all of them, and you should find yourself feeling healthy, more productive and less stressed.
Sapolsky, R. "Why Do We Eat Junk Food When We're Anxious?" The Wall Street Journal,2013.
Job stress is widely experienced, and so pervasive that it’s been found to affect people from all industries, levels and income levels. And because so much of our lives are spent at work, job stress can create issues in other areas of life as well. Anxiety at work can eventually cause you to experience burnout or depression. Without significant changes, prolonged stress can even cause serious physical problems like heart disease.
Job Stress and Chronic Stress
There are several types of stress that people experience, and they each affect people differently. There’s eustress, the kind of feeling you get on a rollercoaster or going down a ski slope; it's exciting and invigorating. There is also acute stress, which comes and goes quickly. These types of stress aren’t especially harmful in manageable doses, though too much of either can lead to a greater risk of experiencing chronic stress. Chronic stress comes from situations where your stress response is triggered again and again without giving you a chance to relax and recuperate. This type of stress often comes from conflicted relationships, over-packed schedules and demanding jobs.
Effects of Job Stress
When job stress turns chronic, it can really threaten our physical and emotional health:
One study that assessed over 11,000 people found that employees reporting high psychological and physical job demands and low job control had elevated risks of emotional exhaustion, psychosomatic and physical health complaints of all kinds and job dissatisfaction.
According to a study by the British Medical Journal, chronic stress has been linked to the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as other conditions. This is because they found a link between chronic job stress and metabolic syndrome, which is a group of factors that increase the risk of diseases like high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity. They found that greater levels of job stress increased people’s chances of developing metabolic syndrome.
Workers who have higher levels of job stress experience a greater incidence of the common cold, and call in sick more often.
There has also been a documented link between high job stress and increased risk of mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety disorders.
Sources of Job Stress
Certain job stress sources can contribute to chronic job stress and burnout:
Job strain, less independence, low social support, high psychological demands, effort-reward imbalance and high job insecurity predicted common mental disorders in a review of several different job stress studies.
These job stress factors seemed to affect men and women of every age equally.
Managing Job Stress
Because job stress is a leading cause of chronic stress, managing factors we experience on the job can cut out significant levels of anxiety and lead to greater wellness and happiness. It’s important to take steps to take care of oneself and one’s body. The following strategies can help you stay healthy and potentially reverse many of the negative effects of stress in a surprisingly short amount of time:
Find Ways To Reduce Stress At Work And Enjoy Your Job More Part of job stress relief involves making changes at work that can increase satisfaction and cut down on factors that cause stress and burnout. You can learn more about how to do this by reading this article on finding greater satisfaction at your current job, creating a fun job experience, and assessing and eliminating burnout-related stressors.
Making changes may feel challenging at first. This article may help you in making your chosen changes, which will soon become ingrained, leaving you feeling less stressed and with increased physical and psychological health for years to come.
Sources: Chandola, T., Brunner, E., Marmot, M. Chronic stress at work and the metabolic syndrome: prospective study. British Medical Journal. January 20, 2006. Stansfeld S, Candy B. Psychosocial work environment and mental health--a meta-analytic review. Scandanavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, December 2006.de Jonge J, Bosma H, Peter R, Siegrist J. Job strain, effort-reward imbalance and employee well-being: a large-scale cross-sectional study. Social Science and Medicine, May 2000. Nakata A, Takahashi M, Irie M, Ray T, Swanson NG. Job Satisfaction, Common Cold, and Sickness Absence among White-collar Employees: A Cross-sectional Survey. Industrial Health, September 2010.