South Denver Psychotherapy: The Importance of Sleep, Diet, and Exercise: Part 2: Sleep.

There are those who have had a certain proclivity towards anxiety or depression from a very young age, and is something they must work with in their day to day—no matter how “good” things in their life may seem. In other cases, the effect of depression or anxiety can be more acute or situational.

Whatever the case may be—there are things one can do to mitigate the severity of the symptoms that may accompany these physiological imbalances. Of the many things one can do, sleep, diet and exercise are incredibly important in the balancing of mood.

This particular blog is part 2 of a 3-part series, and will focus on sleep.

The Benefits of Sleep

Modern day society does not properly validate the importance of sleep. Many people think of it as an unimportant nuisance that they must do, but will do as little as humanly possible, and say things like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”  

However, sleep is incredibly important to all functions of the mind, body, and spirit, not to mention emotional and mental well-being. When sleeping, amongst other things, your brain recharges, your cells repair themselves, and your body releases hormones that are necessary for daily functioning, including awareness, alertness, processing, and so much more.

Babies require 16 hour per day/night, ages 3-18 years require about 10 hours a night, and those who are age 19 to 55 still require 8 hours a night to experience truly good, deep sleep. It is only once people are over the age of 65 would a 6-hour night be “enough.”

So, keeping this in mind—if you are not getting a regular 8 hour night, you may be in major sleep deficit. You may feel foggy-brained, sluggish, irritable, and possibly anxious, stressed and/or depressed. People do not realize just how much sleep impacts their mood and ability to perceive life in a positive light.

That said—it may be that you wish you could get 8 hours, and suffer from sleep problems. In this case, you may need to do more regular exercise (see part 1 of this blog) in order to regulate your hormones and tire yourself out. Also, meditation before bed can be helpful in calming your mind and body. There are also vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements that can help to regulate and encourage sleep.

As we have already mentioned in this mental health care blog, sleep is just one of many ways to work with balancing your mental health. There is no one action of self-care that will “solve” all of your problems—you can perfect your diet, increase your daily exercise, and be getting plenty of sleep—and still struggle immensely.

With that said—it may be that counseling is a support that may be needed in addition to these other elements of improved mind and body health. It may be that your problems and worries are making your mind run wild and is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.

And, if this is the case—South Denver Psychotherapy is here to support you.

South Denver Psychotherapy offers counseling for women, counseling for men, relationship communication issues, teen counseling services, and more. Call South Denver Psychotherapy today to schedule an appointment, or check out our website for more information.

South Denver Psychotherapy: The Importance of Sleep, Diet, and Exercise: Part 1: Exercise.

There are those who have had a certain proclivity towards anxiety or depression from a very young age, and is something they must work with in their day to day—no matter how “good” things in their life may seem. In other cases, the effect of depression or anxiety can be more acute or situational.

Whatever the case may be—there are things one can do to mitigate the severity of the symptoms that may accompany these physiological imbalances. Of the many things one can do, sleep, diet and exercise are incredibly important in the balancing of mood.

This particular blog is part 1 of a 3-part series, and will focus on exercise.

The Benefits of Exercise

The movement and circulation alone will improve your mental state, and depending on how much exercise you can commit to each day/week, the aerobic effects as well as the endorphins will elevate your mood on a regular basis. Ideally, at least 3-4 times per week will make this type of routine most effective and balancing.

Frequency and Intensity

Exercise does not have to mean becoming an ultra-marathoner or creating an exercise routine that turns your daily schedule upside down—it can be something as simple as a 1-3 mile walk, a 30-minute jog, a 45-minute hike if you have nice hikes nearby, or a bike ride for 20-30 minutes (though if you can do more, great!) Ideally, while starting a new exercise routine can be a challenge at first, it should be something you can/will enjoy—if not at first, then, eventually.

Setting Realistic Goals

Regardless of how much you wind up exercising, start with a goal that is do-able, so you will be sure to stick with it. And of course, it needs to fit in with your other obligations like work etc—so, find a way to fit this into your daily routine. If you find yourself saying “but I don’t have time”, you may be surprised—often taking the break to exercise will make you more productive and less stressed in the other things that you have to do that day, thus it can be a time saver in the end. Or, if it means waking up a bit earlier to fit your exercise in—you may find that while it can be challenging to wake up earlier than usual, that inevitably your day will be better, and you will be glad you did, feeling more awake, alert and calm.

Balance is important

While exercising every day can have great benefit, be sure to always give yourself at least one rest day per week, if not two. Ideally, exercise should be an enhancement to your day to day, and not something to create more stress for you.

Also, tune in with your body and make sure you are not overdoing it. There is a fine line between pushing past your comfort zone and pushing yourself too hard. All the while, be gentle with yourself even if pushing yourself in a new routine.

As we have already mentioned in this mental health care blog, exercise is just one of many ways to work with balancing your mental health. There is no one action of self-care that will “solve” all of your problems—you can perfect your diet, increase your daily exercise, and be getting plenty of sleep—and still struggle immensely.

It may be that counseling is a support that may be needed in addition to these other elements of improved body health. And, if this is the case—South Denver Psychotherapy is here to support you. South Denver Psychotherapy offers counseling for women, counseling for men, relationship communication issues, teen counseling services, and more. Call South Denver Psychotherapy today to schedule an appointment, or check out our website for more information.

South Denver Psychotherapy: Peace of Mind Means Peaceful Sleep.

A huge piece of mental health is proper sleep each night—sometimes people don’t realize just how much their lack of sleep is impacting how they feel each and every day. It is actually possible to feel depressed or anxious when one has not had proper sleep, and especially over the long term.

If you are stressed out and your mind is going, sleep can be quite elusive. When one’s mind and heart are preoccupied, sleep can become out of reach for some, and then the problem can turn into a vicious cycle—no sleep means poor mental health, and poor mental health means not enough, not restorative sleep.

Here is a short list of small ways that can make a big difference for your ability to calm and relax your nervous system, mind and body that may lead to improved sleep and better mental health:

1. Movement.

Some form of movement or exercise each day (with an occasional day off when total rest is needed). This does not require going to the gym for a major workout, or doing a huge hike or bike ride—even going for a walk in the morning, afternoon, or before bed will make a difference for moving your energy, letting your mind process the events of the day and calming down your nervous system.

2. Going Horizontal

Try finding 15-20 minutes each afternoon between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to lay down, “go horizontal,” close your eyes, and just let your whole nervous system shut down. Let your mind and body exist in total silence and without interruption or distraction. This is “Adrenal Recovery Time” and is the optimal time of day to rest, and will give you maximum return on your energy—you will find that after this lay down, you are rejuvenated to continue what you have to do that day, when only just before laying down, you found yourself fatigued with brain fog, not sure if you could “push through.” Listen to your body and notice when it is in need of a break—it will pay off in the long run. If you can only get 5 minutes in, then do that—whatever you can do will help.

3. Meditate.

Meditate at least once a day for anywhere from 5-20 minutes. If you only have time for five minutes, that is fine—you might be amazed at what a big difference five minutes can make. Some have found that meditating first thing in the morning is especially helpful so you can start your day from a place of being more centered, and also right before bed is a good way to calm the mind down before sleep. Experiment and see what works for you. You may struggle at first to integrate this new activity into your routine, but over time you may find yourself lengthening the time of your sit, and missing it if you don’t sit that day.

4. Therapy 

All of these things will no doubt be helpful to calming down your mind and body. And at times, you may find that it is not enough—it may be that talk-therapy is in order—there are some things that are too challenging to process on our own. And the things that weigh us down during the day are often what are keeping us up at night, and preventing us from getting a good night’s sleep.

Call South Denver Psychotherapy today to set up an appointment—you may find that this type of emotional support may be just the thing you need to help you get a better night’s sleep.

The Gift of Rest.

Modern society is familiar with depression.

Many of us have experienced it at different times in our lives, while others have struggled with it their entire lives. From those who feel depressed from time to time, to those who suffer from clinical depression—depression is abound in our society.

Something that is perhaps lesser known and often not validated by society at large: adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is a group of symptoms that result when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Adrenal fatigue stems most commonly from intense and prolonged levels of stress, as well as accompanying other longer-term illnesses.

As the name suggests, the biggest symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray” feelings.

In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day.

The other thing about adrenal fatigue is that it may mimic the symptoms of depression, and may even be caused by depression. Alternatively, adrenal fatigue may make a person feel depressed.

Regardless of cause, adrenal fatigue is no fun.

Although it affects millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, conventional medicine does not yet recognize it as a distinct syndrome, which make it even more of a challenge for the sufferer than it already is.

Adrenal fatigue is likely more rampant than we as a society may realize, as nowadays, everything and everyone is moving so fast. There is more and more pressure to go, go, go and pressure to achieve. With advances in modern technology, people are trying to be everywhere at once, communicate with as many people as possible, and there is little time or space for downtime, solitude, and rest.

And, the culture of our society is not to rest, but instead, to do whatever it takes to “keep up”, and rather than taking time to rest and recover, we make our stress and fatigue even worse. If you weren’t depressed to start with, you may start to move in that direction as you find your energy dropping even more over time. Rest is a very important and necessary thing that we tend not to give ourselves on a regular basis, or—ever.

Of all of the psychological mood disorders, depression is the most commonly talked about, well-known—and while not always well understood by those who haven’t experienced it first hand—depression is somewhat accepted in the fabric of our culture. Adrenal fatigue not so much.

It is hopeful that over time we as a culture can come to validate and recognize this modern day syndrome so that people can get the help that they need to recover and take care of themselves.

Whether you are experiencing depression, adrenal fatigue, or a combination of the two, contact South Denver Psychology today to find out how we can help you. We offer depression counseling for men, counseling services for women, and offer overall supportive psychotherapy for Colorado residents in Denver and surrounding area.

South Denver Psychology has counselors that you can trust who can help you get the support you need.