Posted in Mental Health

A Season of Depression

It is during our darkst moments that we must focus to see the light.

`Aristotle

Don’t act surprised when some of your friends seem to be grumpy these nest few weeks.  We have definitely started the winter weather that occurs during the months of November to February, the days are shorter and colder, and the nights longer and darker. Many people are already dealing with a considerable amount of snow already. As the climate changes, many people actually feel the effects of the season change and feel gloomy or miserable. Many feel the need to hide away and hibernate like a grizzly bear hoping for Spring. In many occasions, this isn’t simply a disdain for winter, but actually, a mood disorder is known as winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Based on statistics released by the SAD Association, approximately 12% of Canadians, 9.7% of people who live in the northern states of the  USA, and 8% of people in the United Kingdom have experienced some form of winter depression. According to world statistics, the incidence of SAD increases dramatically as you go 30 degrees of latitude further north or south, while the condition is virtually unheard of in the tropics.

What is SAD?

Winter depression has a sound medical basis that involves changes in the body’s mood centers brought on by shorter daylight hours and a lack of sunlight. Most people suffering from this depressive illness experience a sense of utter isolation and loneliness. The only consolation is the fact that many people go through the same feelings during this time of the year. It provides a sense of comfort and assurance that sufferers are not alone.

Some Key SAD Symptoms

Be on the lookout for:

  • Low mood that occurs daily for an extended period of time lasting more than two weeks straight and is affecting your performance at work, school or your desire to socialize
  • Changes in appetite and weight (gain or loss)
  • Sleep problems/Insomnia
  • Withdrawal from family members and friends
  • Feelings of  hopelessness, excessive guilt, pessimism or having low self-esteem
  • Agitation or feeling slowed down
  • Irritability
  • Overwhelming Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering and/or making decisions
  • Oversensitivity or feeling like crying but not being able to
  • Thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously)

Can Light Therapy Help?

Light therapy, one of the most effective and clinically proven treatments for SAD, has been shown to benefit some 80-85 percent of SAD cases. It may sound very simple but the process involves more than just turning on a light and sitting beside it while twiddling your thumbs as you wait for that renewed energy to power up your whole well-being.

The average home or office light emits a paltry 200-500 lux (a lux is a unit of illuminance) whereas a minimum of 2,500 lux is required to alleviate the symptoms of SAD. In comparison, a clear summer’s day can reach an intensity of 100,000 lux.

Using these measurements as a basis, a number of specially designed lightboxes have been invented that emit precisely the right amount of illumination. Symptoms of SAD gradually subside by sitting in front of one for about 30 minutes to several hours throughout the day, depending on the severity of the condition.

When it comes to the treatment of SAD symptoms, light therapy could be the best approach to consider. But to those with severe symptoms, addressing the root causes of the condition may involve the use of both antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy treatments. There are some other ideas to consider:

  • Moving to a warmer climate that does not have high amounts of rain or snow
  • Vacationing near the equator 
  • Watching movies that are set in warm, sunny, summery climates, marked improvements in mood are demonstrated. Any film with clear blue cloudless skies, palm trees, and an absence of snow may qualify for a movie therapy.
  • Watching outdoor sports like cricket or golf

 I hope that the information above can have a mood-enhancing effect and improve your overall well-being. If you are feeling the effects of the time or season change, please contact your doctor and discuss your symptoms.

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Posted in Meditation, Stress Reduction, Yoga

Can Yoga Help you Sleep?

“Sleep is the best meditation.“

Dalai Lama
Take action to create a sleep routine!

Many people believe that yoga is all about experiencing alignment of mind, body, and soul. The majority of yoga teachers would agree that apart from providing relaxation and serenity.  Yoga is about the limitless ability of a person to control and unite with their inner self. With this in mind, more and more people with high-stress levels, mental health challenges, and insomnia are turning to yoga in order to alleviate some if not all of their symptoms.  Most yogis believe that in one way or another, the ancient discipline makes it possible for the breath, the mind, and the senses to merge in creating balance.

The Yoga/Sleep Connection

More and more people are practicing yoga so that they can get better sleep. Other reasons why many people practice yoga is because they can explore the limitless possibilities of yoga types to find the right. They can also explore yoga into its depths as a meditative practice, as a spiritual discipline or use its philosophies as an exercise to be fit and healthy.

Yogis agree that the potential benefits of yoga may include the increase of strength and flexibility, creation of balance as well as the improvement of breathing and overall posture. On the spiritual aspect, yoga can serve as an exercise that can help you soothe your nerves, calm your mind while increasing your focal and concentration skills.

Before starting your yoga practice, please schedule an appointment with your Doctor. A check-up is important for you to discuss with your physician the advantages and disadvantages of yoga in your overall health and well being.

If you are aiming to get better sleep through your yoga practice, please make sure they listen to your needs, discuss your physical and emotional limitations, and guide you to the best type of yoga for you to practice. Ensure that you begin with the basic yoga poses then slowly advance to the more challenging positions. Now go get some gear: clothes, a colorful mat, foam blocks, and a yoga pillow so you can catch some much needed ZZZ’s!

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Posted in Self Care, Stress Reduction

8 Self Care Tips for Dealing with Everyday Stress

I have always grown from my problems and challenges, from the things that don’t work out, that’s when I’ve really learned. – Carol Burnett

Stress invades our lives all the time, even on a daily basis for most people. Life gets hard and it can be challenging to juggle all the things that the universe seems to be throwing our way. It’s important that we get our stress levels under control because constant high levels of stress are actually toxic to our body and can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Stress also has a negative effect on our mental health and can appear as memory problems, confusion, brain fog or as an inability to concentrate.

Thankfully, it’s easier than you think to implement some strategies to help yourself decrease rising stress levels. 

Just follow these simple steps:

Reduce Alcohol, Caffeine, and Nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and do not decrease your levels of stress; they actually increase them. Alcohol is a depressant when consumed in large amounts and a stimulant in small amounts, making it bad for you to take as an option to relieve stress. Instead of reaching towards alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, grab some water or herbal tea. These are hydrating and will provide you with stress relief.

Physical Activity is your Friend

Try taking part in physical activity every day – a simple walk around the block on your lunch hour or 30 minutes at the gym will release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Releasing these hormones throughout the day can help your stress levels to go down.

Get your ZZZ’s

Get more sleep to allow your body and mind to recharge. Lack of sleep has a direct correlation to high-stress levels. However, stress sometimes prevents us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. Below are my go to activities to set myself up for sleep – pick one or two to try 30 minutes before your target bedtime.

  • Take a warm bath with Epsom salts, bubbles or essentials oils
  • Read a magazine or chapter of your favorite book
  • Go to bed at roughly the same time every night
  • Sound Bath with Tibetan bowls
  • Guided sleep meditations

Find Time to Relax

Try relaxation techniques. Every day, try a different stress-reducing technique. You can try self-hypnosis as this is very simple and easy to do anywhere. You could also attempt saying one word repeatedly to yourself that holds meaning for you. Don’t worry if these relaxation tips don’t work right off the bat. Relaxation is a skill that takes time to master.

Reach out to your Tribe

Talk to someone you trust and who can help. Letting someone know how you feel is a great way to reduce your stress. Many people have said that it’s like a weight being lifted off their shoulders. Stress can cloud our minds and prevent us from thinking clearly. Talking through your situation with someone can help you figure out a solution to what you’re stressing about.

Keep a Journal or Diary

Keeping a diary and writing down your thoughts and emotions will help you become more aware of what you’re feeling. Write down the date and place the stressful event occurred. Also include what you were doing and how you felt, both emotionally and physically. Writing everything down will enable you to avoid another stressful situation and you’ll discover some new coping mechanisms.

Time Management is Key

Manage your time. Many people experience stress when they run out of time to do important things. With a schedule to follow you can ensure that you get all of your important tasks done in a timely manner. Having all your work done on time will help to decrease some stress.

Two-Letter Word – No!

Learn to say “No”. It’s easy to believe that you have all the time in the world and can juggle one more thing in your life. But sometimes you need to remember that you have so many other important things that need to be juggled. There’s only a certain amount of hours in a day, making it hard to get multiple things done.

Take care of yourself. Stress invades everyone’s lives but dealing with stress is manageable. Know that everything will get better and the thing that’s causing you so much stress won’t be a worry to you down the road.

Share what works for you below…

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Posted in Anxiety, Meditation, Mental Health

9 Ways to Attack Anxiety and Panic!

Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.

Simon Sinek

Everybody experiences anxiety from time to time in their life. You can’t always just breathe through an anxiety attack either. Anxiety attacks affect people in different ways. Some people have trouble breathing, their heart races, they get flushed skin and even chest pain. If you have frequent anxiety attacks, try these self-help tips for dealing with them.

You’ve got this!

Exaggerate Your Biggest Fear

Talk to a friend about your biggest fear, whether it be giving a presentation to your class or riding a roller coaster. Make it as dramatic as possible with lots of descriptive words and plenty of your raw emotions. Then when it comes time for you to do that thing that scares you, it won’t be as horrifying because you’ve already ruled out all the possible horrible things that can happen to you. After talking to your friend about this a couple of times, your stories and exaggerations will start to become very silly and something you can laugh about together.

Distract Yourself

In your scary situation, just don’t think about where you are or what you’re doing. It seems easier said than done, but with practice, it’ll almost be like you aren’t even in the situation that causes your anxiety.

Work It Out

Stress and anxiety both release the same hormone: adrenaline. When you exercise, you are releasing this hormone, making your anxiety levels go down.

Drink Responsibly

Do not consume too much caffeine or alcohol. Both are stimulants and will only make your anxiety worse. Instead, turn to drinks like milk and water. Some general foods that are good to bring down your anxiety levels include nuts, berries, yogurts, legumes, and dark orange vegetables.

Say, Om

Meditation can help calm you down and simply focus on your breathing; nothing else. Tune out everything going on around you and count each breath you take.

Break It Down

Break down the days into minutes. Instead of stressing yourself out about what you’re going to do in the next three hours, focus on the seconds and minutes you are living in right now. This will help to eliminate some worries and anxiety you may have for a certain part of your day.

Anchors Away

Use visual anchors. If you feel yourself getting anxious, find something that brings a sense of calm to you and just focus on it. For example, if you find yourself stuck in traffic, you can look up at the clouds to help you feel calm.

Use The Echo

Repeat a basic mantra, such as “I am strong”. Simply repeat it over and over in your head or using a comforting phrase can bring you calmness and peace. A sample could also be, “I am enough” or “I can do this.” Building yourself up is often a technique people use to relieve some of their anxiety.

Personal Love Letter

Write a love letter to yourself. This is just like what you’d do if you were repeating a mantra. Write down on a piece of paper all of the things you love about yourself. Then when you’re having an anxiety attack, read the letter. This, once again, will help relieve some anxiety.

You are not alone…

Rember that you are not alone in this world. Millions of people suffer from anxiety thorughout their lives. These tips given may not all work for you and that’s okay. There are other tips out there for you to try, as well as doctors and other professionals that specialize in anxiety and will be there for you to talk to anytime.

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Posted in Mental Health, Self Help

Choose a Kick-Ass Self-Help Book With These 7 Tips

If you don’t have the courage to change yourself, then nothing will ever change around you.

Unkown

You will reach points in your life where you will need a little help and guidance. Of course, you can turn to your tribe, but occasionally you will realize that the type of help you need isn’t the type of support your friends and family can provide you with. Most of us turn to a good self-help book at one point or another to encourage and inspire us toward a range of possibilities for growth. Looking inside yourself and deciding to make a change is the first step towards improving your life. You will want a book that can provide you with the best advice but there are often too many to choose from.

Here is a list of what to look for in a self-help book and how to choose the best one for you:

Time for some soul searching…

1. Look for a book that focuses on a limited range of problems. The books that tend to rank the highest are the ones that have only focused on one specific disorder. 

2. Review the author’s credentials. Before purchasing a self-help book, you’ll want to get a book that has up to date information and is backed with research and knowledge. Look for books that are ranked high or are written by doctors and professors. 

3. Avoid books that contain claims that you know are too good to be true. You probably already know how to spot these types of grandiose fabrications, but it is especially important to be cognizant when it comes to you counseling yourself. For example, if a book claims to banish your anxiety issues forever, don’t get sucked in!. Unfortunately, a book cannot guarantee you with relief from anxiety, or any other mental or physical health issue, forever. 

4. Is the book you’re looking at based on scientific evidence? This is often hard to tell right off the bat, but you can rest assured that the books that are ranked highest usually have some sort of data and/or experiments to back up their credibility. 

5. Look for a book that helps you monitor your progress. Having this type of guidance and help allows you to see how far you’ve come, which is something wonderful within itself. You can visually see and feel how far you’ve come and how much you’ve changed since the beginning of your self-help journey. If the book has an accompanying workbook this will definitely help you stay on track and provide you with a place to record your insights about yourself.

6. Flip through the book or tables of contents (if it has one) and see if it ever discusses the possibility of relapse or any setbacks. Only about half of all the self-help books published allude to a sense of setbacks or relapse and how to bounce back from them. The goal is to resolve the issues, however, sometimes it takes more than one attempt to find the right recipe for you.

7. Does the book discuss when you should seek professional help? Sometimes you can’t overcome all the underlying issues that led to the problem or you may face some unsettling emotions on your self-help journey. If you reach that point, it is important that you get the support you require from someone who specializes in your problem. 

Photo Credit: Ellieelien on Unsplash

There is a large variety of self-help books available to help you along your journey of learning more about yourself. The key is that you purchase a book that can provide you with as much value and guidance as possible. Don’t go for books with flashy covers and taglines just because you like their look. If need be, look into each book and provide yourself with the best chance of being rejuvenated and inspired to grow.

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha