How to Support Racially Marginalized Women

How to Support Racially Marginalized Women

Community care is self-care. When we look out for our most vulnerable groups in society, we create and reinvent a new world – one in which our collective mental health is recognized as a priority rather than a subservience and prospers so flourishingly that we lift the burden off future generations fighting redundant battles against racism.

Where do we start? 

We begin by acknowledging the dominating presence of racism that encompasses us all. Centuries of systemic oppression has enabled racism to insidiously seep into the cracks of almost every aspect and social arena of our lived experiences. More specifically, the intersection of race and gender create a nuanced oppression for BIWoC (BIWoC stands for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color. It is a term used to undo native invisibility, dismantle anti-blackness, and build an enduring solidarity between ethnic minorities by centering their stories and experiences. 

BIWoC emphasizes that distinct effects of racism remain predominantly unique to specific cultural groups). 

Of the 31 million people living in poverty in the U.S. in 2018, 74% come from culturally ethnic backgrounds. The feminization of poverty makes this even worse for women. Latinx women are still paid 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, considering that most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Asian-American women are severely underrepresented in professional arenas due to discriminatory practices.

Devastatingly, the list of how BIWoC are disproportionately affected by societal issues goes on and on. 

Check your privilege. 

So, what kind of active support can allies provide? First, check your privilege and use it for the betterment of society. Many are quick to meet this phrase with disdain and dismissal, but what lacks is a comprehensive understanding of what privilege really means. In the social justice discourse, a privilege is an advantage you have that others do not. There is privilege based on gender, race, class, ability, and other areas that you may not have considered, such as neurological differences and sexuality. Checking your privilege is an opportunity to engage in self-reflection, to truly consider how the advantages in your life have contributed to your beliefs and opinions and how the absence of disadvantages in particular areas have kept you from gaining a thorough understanding of the struggles of others.

For example, I march for the Black community. I am able-bodied, cisgender, college-educated, and grew up in an environment that supported my success. Without being mindful of my privileges, my efforts to fight racism might leave out many of the women I claim to support and advocate for, such as disabled, trans, and incarcerated Black women. Being conscious of your advantages helps to better empathize and understand others’ disadvantages. Does your privilege mean that you are more likely to be invited to your supervisor’s meetings? Bring up why there are never any women of color invited to pitch in their ideas.  Does your schedule allow you to attend your child’s PTA meetings where you discuss important issues? Suggest moving meeting times to hours where working parents can attend. Everyday you are given chances to make this world a better place, by tolerating a little discomfort and asking, “What I can do to help those who are disadvantaged to enjoy the same freedom I’m enjoying now?”

Challenge microaggressions. 

To be an ally is to take an active part in challenging microaggressions and racist remarks.

Microaggressions, often stated unintentionally, are comments and behavioral indignities that convey demeaning, hostile, and overall negative beliefs towards culturally marginalized groups. Microaggressions have far-reaching social implications that go beyond the emotional and physical effects that are felt by the person they are being perpetrated against; they normalize racism. 

The assumption that poor Black women are bad or inadequate mothers places them in a position to be heavily monitored by the state and be treated with unwarranted suspicion, and in many cases, even by the teachers of their children. The assumption that Asian women are submissive, docile, and incapable of leadership keep them from securing positions of power, causing them to be extremely underrepresented in many professional arenas. The assumption that Latinx women only speak broken English keeps them from promotions that render financial stability. When you hear someone say statements that communicate harmful stereotypes, practice asking uncomfortable questions. Make the person examine their motives with simple questions such as “Would you say that about a white person?” or “Can you explain that? I don’t get it.” Depending on your relationship with them, this may be a chance to spark productive dialogue.

Don’t tone police. 

Meaningful conversations require active listening from all parties involved. If you are confronted by a BIWoC about a harmful comment you made, it is imperative that you do not tone police, because whether you meant to do it or not, the damages are detrimental. Tone policing occurs when someone (usually the privileged person) switches the focus of the conversation about oppression to the way it’s being talked about. It prioritizes the privileged person’s comfort in a conversation over the difficulties and disadvantages of the oppressed person. Statements such as “They should be less angry so more people want to help them” and “You should be nicer to white people if you want their support” are both acts of tone policing. 

When BIWoC speak on systemic oppression, they are not simply talking about one specific event. Years worth of pain, anger, and fear attributable to the enduring and life-long abuse of an inherently racist and sexist society is nearly impossible to leave behind when entering discussions about race. By tone policing, you are asserting that BIWoC must meet certain prerequisites, such as prioritizing your comfort, before their cries for equity and justice deserve to be heard and valued. You must build a tolerance for discomfort – a necessary skill if you want to advance the work of social justice.

Donate to anti-racist causes. 

Financially support organizations working to fight racial oppression. Educators, activists, and researchers have put in years worth of tremendous effort and knowledge to help guide us in the right direction in achieving social justice. Organizations that fight for BIWoC are all around us – they give legal advice, provide psychological and medical services, fight workplace discrimination, advocate for sexual assault survivors, and so much more. 

Planned Parenthood, the Native American Disability Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the NAACP are good places to start. Local grassroots organizations are also in need of your support. Oftentimes, they rely on direct community donations in order to continue their operations. If you are unable to support financially, volunteer when you can. Dedicating your time to a mission that is committed to fighting systemic racism is a valuable, useful, and appreciated effort.

Teach your children to be accepting of diversity. 

A “colorblind” approach is neither optimal, nor helpful. Historically, this approach has been adopted by those who claim to be not racist as it centers its focus on treating individuals equally, or in other words, not seeing color. It might sound acceptable in theory, but in practice, it perpetuates an ideology that is counterproductive at best and violent at worst. To claim to not see race is to deny the lived experiences of BIWoC, to ignore the realities of systemic racism, and to reject the grievances that BIWoC have been fighting against for generations. 

It is not in any of our genetic make-up to be naturally born knowing how to discriminate and be biggotted towards people of different skin colors – it is taught. This is not to say that it’s absolutely necessary for you to sit your 4-year-old toddler down and say, “We have to talk about racism.” There is a myriad of approaches to expose your children to anti-racist work, with appropriate strategies for different age groups. Younger children (ages 8 and under) can be introduced to different cultures by eating ethnic foods, reading books and watching movies with characters from diverse backgrounds, and seeing you model behaviors that convey acceptance of those who are different from you. 

Older children (ages 9 and up) are typically more equipped in handling conversations about race since most will have a concrete idea as to what is fair and what is not. In an era dominated by phones, tablets, TV screens, and computers, it is more likely than not that your child will encounter an event difficult to adequately understand without your help. For example, if a protest comes on TV, have open and honest conversations about why protesters are marching by using apt language that your child understands. This is especially important for teens as they are beginning to cement the foundations for their sense of identity. Although these conversations may cause you discomfort, we need to teach past what is easy and teach what is critical and meaningful.

Maintain hope for a better future.

It is possible to reinvent a world where our collective mental health prospers and thrives. It is possible to reconstruct our society to one that sincerely values the lives of each and every individual no matter where they are positioned in the differing junctions of their identities. The flawed rules we have created for ourselves in this world are never set in stone, and there is remarkable and extraordinary power that comes in realizing that the structured systems and social constructs that have hurt, demoralized, and dehumanized those for too long, can be undone. 

This blog was written by Victoria Dagdag, intern at CaliforniaWomen’s Therapy.

Sources: 

So you want to talk about race? Book by Ijeoma Oluo

https://www.povertyusa.org/facts

http://www.cpahq.org/cpahq/cpadocs/Feminization_of_Poverty.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4845037/

https://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/spotlight/issue-119

COVID-19 & LGBTQ Safe Spaces: How to Connect with Your Community Amidst the Pandemic

COVID-19 & LGBTQ Safe Spaces: How to Connect with Your Community Amidst the Pandemic

COVID-19 has affected communities all over the world. In just eight months, people everywhere have had to learn a new normal, adjust to the stress of a pandemic, and create safeguards for their families. This sudden change in our world has eliminated safe spaces and coping mechanisms, ways to connect with our communities, and security in our relationships. Safe spaces are places where we feel belonging, acceptance, and love. They are where we feel most at home. They are where we feel most ourselves. This could be a home, a bar, an area of town, a neighborhood, an event, or a restaurant. COVID-19 has temporarily taken away many of these safe spaces. 

For the LGBTQ community, some individuals may be struggling to find acceptance, security, and belonging without these spaces. Home may not be a place of acceptance or belonging. Home may actually be a place of neglect, fear, and unrest. If you are suffering during this time, we want you to know that you are not alone. Here are some ways to reconnect with your community while maintaining social distancing and CDC safety measures:

Online Spaces: We live in an age where we can connect with each other through endless online platforms. Try a new chat room. Engage with some new social media accounts or platforms. Gather some friends for an online card game or video game. Write or read blogs that interest you. Join a book club and create an inspiring theme with 3-4 friends. Send a fun email instead of a text message. Facetime or Zoom instead of chat on the phone.

Mail: This is such a fun, safe space. Write a letter! Draw a picture! Send a care package! Have Amazon deliver a gift to a loved one! It is such an intimate way to share things you enjoy with another individual. It also becomes a keepsake for months and years to come. You can write to each other on the same piece of paper or play a game via mail to add another layer of connection.

Outdoor Activities: Fall has arrived and the scorching weather is finally subsiding. Use this time to engage with your loved ones outdoors. Try meeting at a park to sit and chat, going for a walk/jog, or hiking a mountainside. Have a meal together at a picnic. String up hammocks and share quarantine stories. If you’re close to a river, pond, or lake, try fishing! Throw a football or a frisbee. Ride bikes around town. Even if you can’t get close to one another, the presence of a loved one can be felt 6 feet apart.

Do an Activity Together, but Apart: This is an area where you can get creative. Try something with a loved one(or loved ones), but do it apart. Cook or bake the same recipe and send each other photos of the result. Watch the same movie(even at the same time if you can align schedules). Try the same at-home workout. Start a house project(fire pit, gardening, lawn care) and send each other updates as you go. Read the same book and have a goal of chapters for each week.

If you are struggling to find your safe space and are considering therapy, please reach out to see if a member of the California Women’s Therapy team is a good fit for you. We are a team of female psychologists with varying specialties who are committed to helping individuals discover peace, healing, and growth during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information, please reach out to Krista at Krista@CaliforniaWomensTherapy.com or call (805)-244-5121.

This blog post was written by Krista Kennedy.

Is Someone You Love Showing Signs of Suicide?

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and with quarantine approaching the six-month mark, mental health is — for some — becoming even more fragile. It is important to discuss these sensitive topics with those who have expressed or are showing signs of contemplating suicide, especially with those who were struggling before the pandemic hit. 

Being stuck inside the house with virtual communication as the main way of staying connected with friends can be hard for those who have struggled with severe depression — especially those who have and had lows that consisted of staying in bed most of the day, poor hygiene habits, and tendencies to isolate themselves from friends and family. With the emotional stress that’s been added because of the pandemic and mandated quarantine, relapses or spiraling further down a dark path can be harder to avoid. 

This article provides the following: recommendations for ways to communicate with friends and family around this topic, tips to help you understand how those with depression may be feeling, and some warning signs of suicide.

Speak with Those Close to You

Within families, many parents believe that trying to speak with their adolescent and young adult children about their moods and their feelings will only push them further away. This is a dangerous misconception. In reality, people of all ages need to know they are safe, loved, and cared for. 

Teenagers and young adults, however, may find it easier to open up to friends about their mental health. Because of the isolation that has come from quarantine, this may be less of an option now due to the barriers on communication and decreased opportunities for experiencing that person-to-person connection. That is why family communication and checking in on each other’s moods is even more important in today’s times. 

For parents, you may want to begin your conversation by asking general questions about what is going on in their life. When the time feels right, you can broach the topic of self-harm and ask if they have ever intentionally hurt themselves. This is a very sensitive topic and may be triggering to some teenagers and young adults though, especially those who have trouble opening up, so gauge their mood and only ask if it feels appropriate. If they do respond, and their answer alarms you, ask specifically if they are planning on or intending to harm themselves. 

Validate Their Feelings

Once you’ve begun this sensitive dialogue with a friend or family member, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. They must really believe you are a) hearing what they’re telling you and b) recognizing the importance of what they are sharing. Try and listen without judgement. This will help them relax and open up, thereby giving you an opportunity to learn even more about their inner emotional world. 

Clarify the Situation

If someone you are close to confides they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine more about why they mentioned suicide. Any of the following are possible:

They want to communicate to you just how bad they are feeling. 

They are alerting you to an unmet need or needs. 

They are vocalizing their desire to stop feeling so many emotions. 

They have actually planned how and when they will take their life. 

Warning Signs

The following is a list of potential warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about feelings of hopelessness and loneliness
  • Increase in alcohol/drug dependency
  • Difficulty maintaining good hygiene and appearance
  • Giving away personal possessions
  • Discussing, reading, or writing about death more often
  • Being uncharacteristically reckless
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Any form of self harm

Seek Professional Guidance

Any talk of suicide is a serious matter and informs you that your loved one could benefit tremendously from professional guidance. It’s important not to force a family member or friend into any mental health treatment plan, but instead, allow them to help direct the course of their treatment. Sometimes depression stems from an overall feeling of lacking control in one’s life, so it is important you let them have a voice in the direction of their mental health treatment. 

It can be especially stressful for loved ones of individuals who are struggling with severe mental illness. Therefore, you may also find that you will want to speak with someone to gain emotional support and guidance through this difficult time. 

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment options, please reach out. California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with young adults, parents, and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information, please reach out to Samantha at Samantha@CaliforniaWomensTherapy.com or call (805)-244-5121.

The Return to College Amidst Covid-19

For many returning college students, late August and early September means moving back to campus, reuniting with long-distance friends, and gaining the independence that comes with leaving home. There’s nervousness and excitement in the air that signifies a new school year and new potential, but what do you do now when the start of the 2020 school year is unprecedented? 

With freshmen beginning their college journey online and returning students having to adjust to a completely new format, here are some tips that may help college students with adjusting to this drastically different school year and the complex emotions that are likely to accompany this transition. 

First-Year Students

Whether starting off their college experience at home or alone in a new environment, the 2020-2021 school year is going to be far from the year that first-year students were expecting. From campus life to social scenes to classroom environments, they will be the first cohort to enter college in this way. 

Making friends and establishing a sense of community can be hard enough in college under regular circumstances. Typically, roommates can be a sure set way to make a friend or two, but due to the pandemic, most dorms have been converted into singles. Joining clubs and Greek life can also produce lifelong friendships, but that process is not going to be the same this year either. It would be understandable to view these changes from the freshman year you had envisioned as overwhelming.

While the process of making friends and building your sense of community may be different and more unique than in past years, universities and campus organizations are still making it possible to be a part of campus life. Many social events and gatherings may be virtual for the time being, and it may take some time to adjust to this new format, but establishing a sense of community is of utmost importance in order to avoid potential feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Returning Students

After having experienced the “normal” college experience, returning students — who know what the year could have been — can experience a very difficult time adjusting. New students have only heard about many of the aspects of college life that returning students have already experienced firsthand. Returning students may be tempted to expect things to be just like previous years or to hyper-focus on the differences between previous years and the current one.

For these individuals, it is important to avoid comparisons or the temptation to focus on “what could have been.” Remaining positive and seeing the good in the situation can help divert attention away from dwelling on the past. This school year might not look like those from the recent past, but the future still holds many kinds of experiences and potential for learning and growth of all kinds. The future also holds a return to more in-person college life, all within good time. 

All College Students

It is important to make the most of the situation with what is given. Participating in the online Zoom events that universities put on can help foster peer-to-peer connections while remaining safe. In addition, having a schedule and staying on top of classes can help establish an environment as close to a normal year as possible. 

It is up to the individual to attend their online classes, and getting behind can result in poor academics, mental health, and overall well-being. To avoid this downward spiral, remember to adjust to the pandemic regulations while maintaining otherwise normal behaviors. This will build good habits for the rest of the college experience while avoiding isolation and loneliness — which we are all susceptible to right now due to the current circumstances. 

If you do experience moderate to severe emotional distress, impairments in your daily functioning, or concerns for your mental health while adjusting to this new school year, it is important to seek professional help. 

California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with young adults, parents, and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information, please reach out to Samantha at Samantha@CaliforniaWomensTherapy.com or call (805)-244-5121.

This blog post was written by Samantha Tellefsen.

Post-Baby Disconnect? 3 Ways to Stay More Connected After Having a Baby

No matter how many times they were warned, few new parents are prepared for the life-changing event of the birth of their first child. No more sleeping in on Saturday, then heading to your favorite restaurant for brunch with friends. These leisurely activities are replaced with sleepless nights and endless diaper changes.

It’s no surprise then that many couples feel a disconnect after the birth of their first child. This is the time when focus (especially the new mom’s) very suddenly and drastically shifts towards the baby. And, since couples spend less time focused on each other’s needs, the romance and intimacy declines and resentment and anger takes its place.

Though it will take a bit of work, there are things new parents can do to ensure they stay committed to each other and the relationship while still providing their new baby with plenty of love and attention. Here are three ways you can stay more connected after having a baby.

Keep the Friendship Alive

The healthiest couples are the ones who are best friends. And it is within this friendship that intimacy is born and lives. But, when you’re both exhausted and scared and frustrated, it’s easy to see each other as the enemy.

If you want to keep the passion alive, you’ve got to focus on keeping the friendship alive. Simply try and use whatever energy you have at the end of the day to be nice to one another. Ask how their day was. Ask what needs to be done around the house. Make them laugh. Get them a beer, rub their feet. Small kindnesses will go a long, long way toward keeping you both connected.

Allow Each Other to Vent

Along with a fussy baby who seems to need something every 20 minutes (all night long), the both of you will still be dealing with other life stressors, like the commute to work, noisy neighbors, and a car that starts when it feels like it.

In order for you to feel like you’re on the same side – like you’ve got each other’s back – it’s important that you allow each other to vent about the frustrations of your day as separate from the relationship. This way you will gain each other’s support and show empathy. And, when both parties feel heard and supported, you stand a much better chance of getting rid of any unwanted tension.

Be Gentle with Each Other

When you are exhausted and at your wits end, it’s entirely too easy to take it out on each other. And, there will no doubt be plenty of times when the two of you are in disagreement about something. When this happens, be sure to always treat your partner gently, as gently as you’re treating your new baby. Staying calm and respectful will keep you connected to each other.

The biggest thing you can do to stay connected is to be aware both of each other’s needs and your own behavior. If you spend time and energy focused on creating a strong relationship, you and your partner will thrive during 3 o’clock feedings and beyond.

Some couples may find they need a therapist to help them reconnect. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Reduce Joint Pain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 50 million adults are diagnosed annually with some form of chronic joint pain due to arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that with age comes aches and pains.

But joint pain does NOT have to be inevitable. In fact, some joint pain is a result of lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and lack of exercise.

This, of course, means you can effectively make certain lifestyle changes that can reduce joint pain and improve function. Here are some ideas to get you started down a path of less pain and stiffness:

Maintain a Healthy Weight

According to The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), obesity is one of the most common diseases that affect bone and joint health. Losing weight not only relieves pressure on your joints, but it can also reduce joint degeneration.

Get Regular Exercise

Obviously, exercise can help you lose weight, but there are other benefits to moving your body. Regular exercise increases strength and flexibility, which is important for joint health. Now, depending on the severity of your joint pain, certain exercises may be off the table. For severe pain, consider walking, biking, and swimming as these exercises are gentle on your joints.

Eat a Healthy Diet

There are two phases to eating a healthy diet:

  • Phase 1 – Eliminate processed foods that are high in refined sugars and trans fats. These cause inflammation throughout the body that causes joints to be stiff and painful.
  • Phase 2 – Eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation in the body. These foods include fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Quit Smoking

Smoking prohibits your body from healing itself and also reduces blood flow. This makes it hard for your joints to recover from injuries and inflammation. Not only will quitting smoking help joint pain, but it will also improve your overall health as well.

Seek Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic is often used as a complement to conventional treatments for joint pain. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce the restrictions or misalignments in your spine and other joints. One study found that adjustments helped normalize inflammation for individuals suffering from low back pain.

Joint pain can also sometimes come from poor posture and spinal alignment, and chiropractors can help you solve that issue as well.

If you suffer from joint pain and would like to explore chiropractic care, please call our office. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how adjustment might finally bring you some relief.

 

SOURCES:

How to Help Your Teen Cope with Back-to-School Stress

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves — and virtual shopping carts — are stocked with low-priced notebooks, markers, and glue. Soon the familiar break hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as some of our children head physically back to school. Yet, others will be “returning” to school virtually this fall. The transition back to school can be a tricky one for some students, and it’s likely the back-to-school transition of 2020 will be an extra challenging one.

While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, most still look forward to the new school year. Typically, a new school year is a chance to enjoy new friendships and extra-curricular activities, but many of those opportunities may now be absent due to the current pandemic. 

Moreover, some children have a real fear of going back to school. They may worry about grades, fitting in, peer pressure, potential bullying, or even school violence. Under regular circumstances, some teens have trouble coping with social pressure, while others feel overwhelmed at what they will be expected to learn and those mountains of homework. How will this all play out for the 2020-2021 school year? For so many of us, uncertainty leads to increased stress. 

If your child is feeling stressed at the thought of beginning a new school year (either online, in-person, or in a mixed format), here are some ways you can help:

Ask Them What’s on Their Mind

Some kids might voluntarily share any worries they have about starting school, but many won’t. If your child does not volunteer this information, ask them directly how they’re feeling about school starting up again. 

Older kids and teenagers often shut down when questioned about, well, anything really. So try to make a leading statement like, “Being able to sleep in longer while school is online might be cool. But I am guessing there is stuff you might not be looking forward to…” Then wait for a response. 

If they don’t respond, try again the next day. Eventually, they will open up to you, and when they do, the important thing is not to say the exact right thing but to simply listen, show interest and concern, and never judge. 

Get Them Involved

To some children, summer means freedom and being able to make more choices for themselves, while school means having little (or no) control over their day-to-day lives. To help counter this feeling, get your kids involved in decision-making at the very beginning. 

Hold a “going back to school” family meeting specific to their current school situation, and make sure there are no media distractions like smartphones or TVs on in the background. Discuss the year ahead, plan and set schedules for meals, homework, sports, school activities (if permitted with Coronavirus), and bedtime. Write these plans down and stick a copy on the fridge or another location your family sees often each day. 

Talk About Bullying

Kids of all ages worry about bullying, so it is important to bring up the topic. You could make a simple statement like, “Bullying is really common, and it’s never OK, nor is it the victim’s fault when it happens. If anything happens to you or you see it happen to someone you know, I want you to tell me about it. We can make a plan together about how to handle it.” Sadly, those attending school virtually are not immune from bullying. Cyber bullying continues to be an unfortunately reality in our society. 

There are also those who worry about starting school because they have issues with anxiety and/or depression. These children and teens need help from a professional therapist who can uncover where the root issues are coming from and offer tools and resources for coping in the real world. 

California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with both parents and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information about available services, please reach out to Samantha at Samantha@CaliforniaWomensTherapy.com or call (805)-244-5121.

This blog post was written by Samantha Tellefsen.

Get Some Sleep! 5 Tips for Busting Through Your Insomnia

If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep, is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

With a lack of sleep at the root of serious medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, getting a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis is crucial to a long and healthy life. Here are five things you can do to change your routine and start getting to, and staying, asleep.

1. Just Two Things in Bed
Make sure that your bed is used only for two things: sex and sleep. By using your bed almost exclusively for sleep, your body will associate your bed with rest and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

2. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise (the recommended thirty minutes a day, five days a week) will help you promote healthy sleep habits. Your post-exercise temperature may promote falling asleep, and exercise in general will help eliminate insomnia by decreasing arousal and anxiety.

3. Naps, Caffeine, & Alcohol
Short naps are helpful for some, but for others it impacts their ability to fall asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, avoid naps during the day. Caffeine, a known stimulant, may keep you up longer than you’re aware. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if it prevents you from falling asleep. And, while alcohol is a sedative, it can disrupt your sleep; so if you have trouble staying asleep, avoid alcohol.

4. No Screens Before Bedtime
Screen time, such as computers, smart phones and television, prevent you from falling asleep due to cognitive stimulation. Too much light at bedtime affects your melatonin production, giving your body the impression that its staying awake, not ready for sleep. Help your body get ready for sleep by eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed.

5. Create a Nighttime Routine
Creating a regular nighttime routine will help your body get into the habit of winding down and relaxing as it prepares for sleep. Create a nighttime routine an hour or two before bed. Maybe have a glass of warm milk, brush your teeth, change into your pajamas and read a book every night before bed. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.

Changing old habits and establishing a new routine is never easy. But as you make changes and sustain new practices, it will get easier. Before long you’ll have a new set of healthy habits, and you can finally settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Are you struggling with insomnia and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.

Ergonomic Tips for Continuing to Work from Home After Coronavirus

Many of us have found ourselves working from home because of the coronavirus. And while the country has slowly begun to open back up, threats of a “second wave” have emerged, which means a majority of us could be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Working from home may be helping us all save on gas expenses, but it sure is putting a crimp in many backs and necks! That’s because many people working from home did not have a dedicated home office to begin with. And so we find ourselves working in less than ideal ergonomic situations as we work on sofas, bookshelves and on top of our beds.

With this in mind, here are some ergonomic tips to help your body feel more comfortable working from home:

Use a Separate Monitor

Looking down all day at your laptop screen can really hurt your neck. You ideally want to be looking straight ahead. If you have a desktop home computer, use this instead of your laptop as it will help you look straight ahead while working. If you don’t, consider getting a monitor that you can attach to your laptop so you can keep your head elevated.

External Keyboards and Mouse

If another larger monitor is not within your budget, consider getting an external wireless keyboard and mouse. This will allow you to use your laptop as a monitor and raise it using a laptop riser or stack of books while you type and control the screen separately.

Invest in a Better Chair

You ideally want a chair that offers cushioning and is height adjustable. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. While not everyone can afford a $1600 Aeron chair, suitable ones can be purchased for $200 – $300. Also, keep in mind that work-related chairs and desks are tax-deductible.

Move Your Body

Your body shouldn’t be seated all day long. It’s important to get up every half hour and move around. Do some stretching and take some nice deep breaths. If you get easily caught up in your work, then use an app reminder such as UP or Stand Up.

Visit a Chiropractor

If, after following these guidelines, your body still feels sore, it may be time to visit your local chiropractor. They will be able to tailor a program to deal with your specific physical issues.

If you are in the area and would like to work with a chiropractor to get your body feeling better, give us a call or stop by our office. We can tailor a treatment plan for your specific needs.

 

SOURCES:

How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to reconnect with your family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later.

 

If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via Skype, so you won’t even have to leave your home if your state is in lockdown.


SOURCES:

https://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf