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3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

Is your life too full? Do you struggle to keep up with your schedule at times? If so, you're not the only one. Many people, young and older, battle to keep a grip on their bustling lifestyles and that problem can produce other problems, such as stress, depression, low self-esteem, and even physical ill-health. But you don't need a hectic schedule to lead a full and rewarding life. In fact, a simple life can often bring more joy. Here are a few tips for slowing the pace and enhancing the quality of your day-to-day life.

Prioritize and select

Try to reduce your quota of commitments, including the ones you enjoy. If you pursue several hobbies, for instance, drop one for a while, to allow more time and energy for the others. Select your social engagements with care, bypassing any you're happy to miss. Prioritize your domestic chores, too, skipping any that can wait, and do the same with other tasks. If you have social or caring commitments, such as shopping for a neighbor or visiting a relative, remember that your own well-being is as important as theirs and may need to take precedence at times. The simpler your lifestyle, the better you can control it.

Be your own boss

Stand up for your needs when feeling pressured. If your friends are planning a night out, for instance, but you'd prefer a quiet evening at home, tell them how you feel and let them go ahead without you. If they're true friends, they'll respect your feelings and suggest a more suitable arrangement for you next time. Similarly, if your employer is piling too much work on you, let them know this, explaining its effect on your well-being, so a solution can be found. As for your own demands on yourself, such as exercise or study goals, you'll need to scale those down, as well. Moderation is the name of the game here.

Make the most of the moment

Small events can often reap great rewards, so make the most of them. An hour of quality time with someone special, for instance, can be savored forever after, as can a stroll in sparkling sunshine or a piece of cheering news. By imbuing the moment, you can slow time down and bring shape and meaning to your life. When you go to bed, think back over the day's highlights. If nothing stands out, think over all the good things you've taken for granted: tasty meals, an interesting TV program, and a pleasant chat with a friend, perhaps. You'll sleep all the better for those calming reflections.

With your simplified lifestyle, you'll be freed up to enjoy every day in a relaxed and fulfilling way.  You'll notice a new spring in your step, too.

Philosopher and Roman Statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others." Having an attitude of gratitude may seem like a cliché, but it is an important factor in enhancing your life. Consider the following reasons why you should start a thankfulness journal today.

Renewed Perspective

Your mindset is a very powerful thing. It can motivate you forward toward achieving new goals or it can keep you stagnated in past failures. Taking the time each day to write down several things that you are thankful for can give you a renewed perspective. Henri Nouwen said, "Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering to walk in gratitude."

Enhanced Health

According to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences and reported in Time magazine, participants were asked by researchers to rate their "levels of gratitude, physical health, and psychological health, and how it boosted their health." These participants reported positive parallels regarding how having an attitude of gratitude helped overall health and well-being. Improve your health by increasing your level of gratitude as you start writing in a thankfulness journal.   

Better Sleep Patterns

Research completed by Web MD shows that the average adult needs approximately 7-9 hours of sleep to properly function the next day. Of course, some people can function well after only having 6 hours, while others need 10 hours. Various factors can impact sleeping time, like anxiety, stress over complications in life, and illnesses.

Writing in a thankfulness journal each day can become a calming activity that you could complete right before going to sleep at night. This process can remind you that in the midst of life's daily stressors, you do have some things to be thankful for. Each night, you should write down three or four new things that you are thankful for. Repeating this positive habit can be the turning point in relieving stress so you can focus on calming your mind and getting the restful sleep you need each night.

Passing the Torch

Developing this habit of daily writing in a thankfulness journal--whether you write in the morning at the start of your day or in the evening before bed--can cultivate in you a desire to pass on the torch. You can share your experiences with this new positive habit with others in your life who may need a mindset change, to improve their health, or to sleep better. Maybe your positive life changes can become the catalyst to help someone else make changes too.

 

Be Thankful Today

Melody Beattie said, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity, it can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." Change your life today by starting a thankfulness journal to remind yourself of how much you have to be thankful for

The changing seasons affect your family much more than you may realize. Shorter days, less daylight, and dreary weather impact physical and mental wellbeing. Simple changes in the way you manage your meals, home interior and daily activities will make this winter a healthier, more comfortable, and happier time for the entire family. 

Here are three very effective, low-cost ways to help your family beat the blahs, stay healthy and feel better this winter. Addressing both physical and emotional health, these simple and inexpensive ideas are powerful because they directly focus on the reasons winter can harm your family. 

Why Winter Is a Tough Time

Cold, dreary weather is tough on your body and mind. It's important to protect your family's physical health during winter because colder, wet weather and exposure can weaken your body's immune response.  Winter is also a time with more flu and cold germs around.  

Shorter days, less light, and gloomy weather; all ingredients in the recipe for the blahs. There's less spring in everyone's step, fewer smiling faces, and a general sense of just, blah! The scientific name for winter blahs is Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. Symptoms include loss of appetite, general sadness, poor sleep, and tiredness. Some people experience feeling anxious or irritable. If you see these warning signs in yourself or family members, there are simple solutions available. 

Here are three effective tools for keeping your family healthy and free of the blues this winter. This year, fight the blahs with powerful technology, good nutritional resources, and activities to lift spirits and create cheer. Here's how to start.

Use Food, Fun, and Cheerful 

From ages past to today, wise mothers know that proper nutrition is a powerful weapon in the battle against winter ills and the blahs. Cold germs and viruses replicate easier cold weather, so maintaining a healthy immune system is key. Good lighting, wonderful food, and healthy activity elevate the mood and promote the release of endorphins.  

One: Celebrate Fresh

Make the most of seasonal winter vegetables and fruits. Keep fresh fruit on the table and add cut-up fruit and fresh vegetables to lunchboxes and the dinner table. Balanced nutrition, including healthy seasonal veggies, does not have to be boring. You have a wide range of tasty soups, stews, and casserole recipes waiting just a mouse click away. Get creative, maybe even engage the kids to help in preparing the food. You can ensure that meal time is healthy and memorable without spending hours in the kitchen.  

Two: Make Dinnertime a Special Event

Nearly everyone loves chili. Make it extra tasty and healthy by adding finely chopped carrots, diced bell pepper to the mix. They add extra nutrients while hiding nicely in the dish. Turn the meal into a fiesta by surrounding the pot of chili with tasty melted cheese made with small corn tortillas, nachos, and black bean refritos.  

This kind of meal is very flexible, so use your imagination. Find interesting new recipes to try. There are many chicken, turkey, and vegetarian alternatives, and hearty stew and soup recipes packed with healthy nutrition. The key factor is making dinner time interesting and fun and healthy.  

Your crock pot and instant pot cooker will be great time savers, here. Try different themes for different days. Have a build your own sub sandwich bar loaded with healthy breads, meats, sliced veggies, and cheese. Meatloaf is another great place to put some hidden nutrition and is a good option for working with your fussy eaters.  Just use your imagination; the entire family will benefit. 

Three: Fight the Blahs with Activity

Giving people something to look forward to is a great way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Exercise, activities, and fun go a long way towards lifting the spirits. Family nights, light exercise and just trying to stay stimulated will go a long way towards beating the blahs. 

Get outside. Unless the weather is brutal, getting out is mood lifting even on cloudy days. Physical activity stimulates your body to release endorphins. These natural chemicals elevate mood and lessen sensitivity to pain. Exercise also stimulates the mind as you watch your surroundings during a walk.  

If the weather is too bad for a hike, visit a museum for a stroll or have fun at home with games like toss across or active gaming with dance or bowling with your Wii. Games of any kind are good for lifting spirits and getting the kids engaged. Lively games like Risk or Monopoly encourage critical thinking and strategy skills. Again, the point is being engaged to create healthy good feelings to overcome seasonal depressed feelings. 

Four: Fight the Gloom with Technology

Less daylight during the winter months is a problem. Battle the blahs with low-cost technology this year. Something as simple as changing the ‌light bulbs you use can have a big impact on your family's health and wellbeing. Here are two effective options to consider. 

White natural light from the sun enhances mood and provides a host of health benefits. Natural light combats seasonal depression, stimulates vitamin D production and promotes healthy sleep.  

If your windows don't let in enough natural sunlight, try installing daylight LED bulbs. Look for them in any local big box or hardware store for between $5 to $10. Another option is placing daylight simulating light therapy lamps around the house for greater impact. It's a good option but can be more expensive. Look for these lamps online and on Amazon. Prices range  from around $40 to $150.  

Seasonal depression is something you can do something about. This year, face it with a little ingenuity, wonderful food, and active family fun for smiles all round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety is a common emotion, and most of the time you're anxious for a specific reason. When you're fearful, your heart rate speeds up, your blood pressure rises, and your heart beats faster. But sometimes anxiety is an almost everyday occurrence. You may wake up apprehensive and fretful in the morning, or it might come on later in the day with no apparent reason why. If these episodes are persistent, this can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are classified into different types. So, it's not enough to say you have an anxiety disorder. The type you have can make a difference for treatment. Let's look at the five types of anxiety disorders that psychiatrists and psychologists recognize.

Panic Disorder

One of the most common types of anxiety disorder is called panic disorder. People who have this form of anxiety experience symptoms of anxiety that often come on suddenly and out of the blue. The symptoms can be physical in nature, like a rapid heart rate, palpitations, difficulty taking a deep breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, and sweating. Some people also experience psychological symptoms like feelings of unreality and fear that they'll collapse on the floor unless they get help. It's not uncommon for people with panic disorder to think they're having a heart attack. In fact, emergency rooms frequently see people with panic symptoms that resemble a heart attack.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another form of anxiety. The obsessive component of OCD refers to the tendency to have repeated unwanted thoughts that cause anxiety. For example, some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder become fixated on germs and being exposed to them, or may develop an obsession with not stepping on cracks on the sidewalk.

The compulsive component refers to the behaviors they do to keep their anxiety under control. For example, the person with an obsession with germs might wash their hands repeatedly and focus obsessively on staying clean. An individual obsessed with not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk will keep their attention focused on the ground so they can avoid them. People with this form of anxiety channel their fear and worries to specific objects or behaviors and behave compulsively to keep that anxiety in check.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is sometimes referred to as a social phobia. People with social anxiety experience extreme fear, worry, and anxiety when they're in a social situation. Before a social event, they may experience extreme worry and distress because they fear they'll do something stupid or people won't like them. Social anxiety can be focused, for example, a fear of parties in particular, or more generalized, fearing any type of social function.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by a traumatic event. The person with PTSD can't mentally overcome or let go of the trauma they experienced and may relive the events in their mind. At times, something in their environment can trigger a memory and they develop extreme anxiety. Examples of events that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder include weather disasters, being a victim of violence, fighting in a war, or being involved in an accident. For a psychiatrist to make this diagnosis, the symptoms need to be present for at least one month. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common form of chronic anxiety. If anxiety is long-standing and doesn't fit into one of the categories above, it's usually generalized anxiety disorder. People with this condition feel anxious much of the time and usually can't identify a specific trigger for their anxiety. They tend to worry chronically and without a specific trigger. Health care professionals usually diagnose generalized anxiety disorder if symptoms are present for at least six months. There is a genetic component to generalized anxiety disorder, as it's more common in certain families, and women are more prone to it than men. In fact, generalized anxiety is twice as common in females.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, chronic anxiety isn't a single disorder. It can be of various types, but only a psychiatrist is trained to make a diagnosis. Fortunately, there are therapies that can help, including cognitive and behavioral therapy by a licensed psychologist. However, there are strategies people can do at home like deep, controlled breathing exercises, meditation, self-hypnosis, mindfulness, and guided imagery.

References:

Medscape. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder"

HHS.gov. "What are the five major types of anxiety disorders?"

National Institute of Mental Health. "Anxiety Disorders"

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!