39 posts tagged “mental health”

It’s Self-Care Day! 7 “pillars” for taking care of you

Posted 2 months ago by

Today is International Self-Care Day. There’s even a Senate resolution designating July 24 as a day to recognize the importance of self-care in the U.S. (it’s on 7/24 because, ideally, it should be a focus 24/7 for everyone). Has your self-care — from diet and hydration to hygiene and hobbies — been slipping because of competing priorities? Bring it back into focus with these “seven pillars” recommended by health care experts – plus some easy TLC ideas from your fellow member, Laura.

What are the “7 pillars”?

The International Self-Care Foundation has developed what it considers The Seven Pillars of Self-Care:

Pillar 1 – Knowledge and health literacy: Finding health information and ways to understand it so you can make appropriate health decisions

Pillar 2 – Mental well-being, self-awareness and agency: Getting health care screenings; “knowing your numbers” for important stats like body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure; and keeping tabs on your mental health

Pillar 3 – Physical activity: Staying as fit as possible (talk with your doctor about a healthy exercise plan that works with your condition)

Pillar 4 – Health eating: Keeping a nutritious, balanced diet

Pillar 5 – Risk avoidance or mitigation: Quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, practicing safe sex and using sunscreen

Pillar 6 – Good hygiene: Bathing, washing your hands, brushing your teeth, cleaning your produce and taking other food-safety steps

Pillar 7 – Rational and responsible use of care products and services: Knowing the guidelines and possible side effects or dangers of medications and services (prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, alternative or natural health products), and working with a health care professional to plan how to use these things safely

Many of these fit well with the mission and resources of PatientsLikeMe, so remember to keep tracking your conditions, symptoms, treatments and more in your profile.

Laura’s tips for TLC

PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors member Laura — who’s living with bipolar disorder and PTSD — wrote a piece to share her 5 tips for self-care with the mental health community. She says self-care is “paramount” in living with multiple chronic conditions.

For Laura, “self-care is really about utilizing the five senses in an attempt to make you feel better, or at least to bring you to a more manageable spot until you can talk with a doctor or therapist.” So her self-care practice includes cool things like adult coloring pages, massage, singing/listening to music and more activities that deliver some “zen.”

What questions or advice do you have about self-care? Add a comment below or, better yet, join PatientsLikeMe to swap ideas with the community here in the forum!

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Posted 4 months ago by

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night.

Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals.

Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders

Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help:

  • Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later).
  • Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep
  • Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music
  • Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime
  • Skip the book: “I don’t read in bed (that was a hard habit to break — I LOVE reading in bed),” says one member. Beds should be kept for sex and sleep, not reading, watching TV or looking at your phone.

Make your space suit you

  • Research shows the perfect sleep temps are somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your preference. A room that’s too hot or too cold can keep you up at night.
  • Keeping the room as dark as possible helps. Try black out curtains or an eye mask.
  • Invest in a good mattress. Understandably, mattresses aren’t cheap, but the more money you are willing to put into your mattress, the better nights sleep you can expect to get. After months of searching, we recently bought a queen mattress and it is one of the best purchases I have made.
  • Turn that neon alarm clock toward the wall so you don’t know what time it is. Ticking off the minutes can lead to more anxiety about how you’re not sleeping.
  • Some folks swear by white noise machines (with sounds from nature, like frogs or rain). Find the right white noise that works for your, even a fan or air purifier can help.

Long before lights out: Tips to keep in mind throughout your day

It’s not only about what you do right before you hit the hay — see how other actions throughout your day can help (or hurt) your sleep quality at night.

Exercise

Yoga or other types of relaxation exercises, like mindfulness meditation can make falling asleep easier, but some members go for something more rigorous..

  • “Another thing that helps is getting pretty serious exercise (1 hour of heart rate at or above 130, for me at least) five or six days a week,” says a member. “That’s not possible for everyone, but it definitely helps me.”
  • “I made the mistake of going for a run too late in the evening,” says a member. It only served to rev her up. Now she plans exercise well before bedtime.
  • Scheduling your exercise outdoors during the day can help some people. Sunlight helps establish your body’s sleep and wake cycles.

Eating and drinking

Drinking alcohol, which you might think will help put you out, actually has the opposite effect, and after a late night cocktail you can find yourself tossing and turning at 3 a.m.. Here are a few more pointers on food and drink from members

  • One member says skipping caffeine including coffee, tea and chocolate after 12:00 p.m. works best for her.
  • Eating meals at regular times also helps your sleep. “None of this dinner at 10 p.m. stuff, which can keep you up,” says a member.
  • “I know some folks who have had luck with Valerian extract, several drops on a sugar cube,” says another member. (Be sure to check with your doctor before trying Valerian or any other herbal remedy.)

Write it down

  • “When I write by hand in my journal every night, it is easier for me to just ‘word vomit.’ Of course, I can’t read anything I write afterwards, so it’s more an exercise of getting the feelings of the day out so I can go to sleep,” says another member.
  • “Writing is part of my bedtime routine, and includes my ‘gratitudes’ for the day, which I also find helps me wake up with a positive attitude in the morning,” a member explains.
  • You may find it helpful to go one step beyond just setting aside worry time (mentioned above) and writing it down or talking to a friend before settling in for the night.

Interested in joining the conversation about bedtime habits and sleep? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.