The number one advice when you’re tense, frazzled and overwhelmed is to minimize your exposure to stress. But when life’s tragedies hit, that’s not an option.
Living with chronic illness comes with unavoidable stress. On top of unpredictable symptoms, pain and insomnia, you’re also faced with anxiety about the future, identity issues and new relationship dynamics. Even worse, you may have to deal with losing your job, financial problems or marital troubles. Not to mention the mountain of paperwork you have to sort through to keep track of medical records, insurances and social security benefits.
When stress can’t be prevented or escaped, there’s only one solution: finding effective ways to best deal with the uncontrollable stress.
It’s the middle of the night and there you are, staring at the ceiling while the clock’s ticking away. You start getting anxious, because there are only a few hours of potential sleep left until a new day starts again. But as much as you toss and turn, you just can’t fall asleep.
If you suffer from insomnia, always check if you have your bedtime basics covered: a dark, slightly cool bedroom with a comfortable mattress, not too much caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. You could even try some more unconventional tips for getting plenty of shut-eye.
But some nights, even when you’ve done everything right, you find yourself wide awake at 2am.
So what do you do? It’s tempting to grab your phone, check your social media feeds or watch TV until you start getting sleepy. But that’s not a great choice for two reasons. The blue light coming from electronic devices actually inhibits the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it even harder for you to fall asleep. What’s more, by doing something mentally stimulating, not only are you not sleeping, you’re not getting high-quality rest either.
Did you come back from your Summer break only to find yourself flooded with work mail?
Smartphone stress is real. Countless of studies have been published about the downsides of the latest technology – from stress and sleeping problems to anxiety, depression and disturbed body image.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with email or keeping up with social media, the common advice is to consider a digital detox – taking a (radical) break from checking Instagram, WhatsApp and news feeds. Hey, I dedicated a blog post to it myself.
But recently I read something interesting in the Dutch Psychologie Magazine. Do we really need to force ourselves offline to find peace or is there a way to get the benefits from smartphones whilst avoiding the pitfalls?
So you’ve begun the new year bursting with good intentions to eat healthier, move more and meditate daily. In your enthusiasm, however, it’s tempting to go overboard, trying to go from midnight-snacking coach potato to a gym-loving, juice fasting fit girl/guy in a few weeks time.
Unfortunately, drastic lifestyle changes usually don’t lead to lasting results. It’s much easier and more realistic to take small, doable steps towards your goals. So have a look at these 101 simple things you can do today to boost your health and happiness!
This post is an excerpt from my upcoming e-book “How to Create Your Own Action Plan for Recovery“. If you want to stay updated on the release of the book, sign up for weekly newsletters from The Health Sessions here.
All day long, your senses are bombarded with information – sights, sounds, smells. Your brain is constantly busy selecting and interpreting these stimuli, storing what’s important into your long – term memory.
Turning your attention inwards instead of to the world around you has several benefits for your health.
Brain studies suggest that observing what’s happening inside of you – your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations – taps into a different part of your brain than watching the outside world does. Instead of solely relying upon the frontal lobes of the neocortex, focusing on your feelings also activates evolutionary older parts of your brain that are associated with emotional reactions and the integration of physical experiences. It’s that bypass of the thinking and judging parts of your brain that makes mindfulness such an effective method to find your calm when you can’t seem to stop your racing thoughts.
Learning to tune into your body also allows you to pick up signals of stress, pain and exertion before these symptoms become (too) serious.
A mindful body scan is a powerful way to get in touch with your body and really notice what you’re sensing, without judging or trying to change what’s happening within. At first glance, a body scan might seem like you’re just lying down doing nothing. But it involves a little more than that. Because while your body is resting, your mind goes on a guided tour from your toes to your head, pausing at each part and paying attention to what you’re feeling.