Living in constant change has led many people to experience the highs and lows of COVID-19-related post- traumatic stress. For some people, the highs are quite dramatic, even manic. For others, the lows are more persistent. As a mental health provider my role is to guide people through the terrains of emotional liability and into a stable, consolidated self. Irrespective of which healing method I use, I believe the process must be collaborative and well-informed for it to be the most beneficial to clients. Some of the ways we become more mentally fit begins with getting more sleep, eating better food, and strengthening our relationships.
How often does your sleep pattern change when you’re stressed, unhappy or worried? Sleep is one of the most critical components of mental fitness. It impacts every other aspect of your health. When I am sitting in my office talking to clients about their mental health concerns, most times what I am also looking for is their approach to sleep. It’s not typically the thing they want to talk about, but I put focus on it for several reasons. It is in our sleep that our unconscious reveals unresolved issues from our waking hours. It is also during our sleep cycle that the brain has time to recover from thinking and processing, to regenerating new brain cells. Whenever one of my clients is in a persistently bad mood, or experiencing a sudden short-term decline in their memory, it’s often reported with a change in their sleep routine. As adults, we need 7-9 hours of restful sleep a night for optimal functioning. When that is interrupted, other parts of our life will be affected, including our relationship with food and people.
Food and how it’s used represents so many things to so many people. For some people, food provides comfort in times of distress. For others, food is how someone expresses joy and love. Whatever the reason, food means different things to different people. But, food most importantly heals us. Research shows that food also has a direct impact on mood and long-term memory. According to a study by Harvard Medical School, “multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function- and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.” (March 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626). If we can learn to respect food the way it was meant to be used, we can begin to see the benefits from the foods that keep us physically and mentally strong.
If ever there was ever a time to strengthen our relationships, now is it. As we age, our life changes, and so do the people in our lives. Creating healthy relationships begins with expressing your needs to others and being honest about your boundaries. Boundaries teach people how to treat you. Emotionally mature relationships teach us about each other. The beauty is both can be reciprocated.
*This blog is about becoming free. It’s a reflection of introspective thoughts and experiences that have crossed miles of self-discovery. I created this blog to inspire others to live life with less self-criticism, judgment and openness to new experiences. May you find that you learn how to live a life by design and on your own terms!*