Showing posts with label stress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stress. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Importance of Doing Nothing

We all mention (at times, complain) that we live in a constantly on-the-go world. Whether it’s having a family that has to go to different events every night of the week, multiple jobs, or juggling getting additional education and paying your bills, we feel the squeeze on our time and energy. Everything (and often, everyone) pushes us to be more and do more. And we find ourselves in a quandary: unable to add one more thing to our busy to-do list, and desperately wanting to throw up our hands in defeat, hide under the covers, and not do anything at all.

To do list

Wait a minute: What if you really did nothing? I don’t mean for weeks on end, but what if, instead of taking a vacation where you pack up everyone and everything, make a gazillion arrangements and stress about itinerary switch ups, you simply took a week and did, well, nothing?

It sounds crazy, but as someone who recently had to evaluate her health and lifestyle, let me share with you some of the benefits of sitting on your bum – and why you should consider it.

You realize just how much you do. Let me tell you – I was underestimating just how much I got done in a day. While working forty hours a week, I managed to grocery shop, make 90% of our meals from scratch, spend time with friends and family, and keep the house going. Did I mention I color my own hair and do my own nails? And let’s not forget about my second and third jobs, freelancing (like I do here as a writer) and health coaching. That’s a long week. No wonder I was tired all the time!

You find you are chronically stressed out. One of the things I’ve learned as a health coach working with busy clients is that we are never accurate judges of how much stress we have on our shoulders. Acute stress is when a bear is chasing you, and you run for your life – brief and intense. Chronic stress is when you live with the bear (many of you know what I mean!) It is low-level, constant stress, and in today’s world, we exist this way, often for years at a time. Some of us never get away from it. And it takes its toll on our mental and physical health.

You discover how much sleep you actually need. Prior to the last year, I rarely got more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep. Eight hours? Who needs that much sleep? I went with the old adage: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” The problem, however, is that I was killing myself with exhaustion. When my doctor told me sleep and relaxation mattered, I rolled my eyes and asked for more blood tests. But after over a year of being tired, I was willing to give my doc’s suggestion a try. Surprise! I need – just like every other average human – 8-9.5 hours. Turns out I’m not superwoman who can go on less than 7 hours and still set the world on fire. Guess what? Neither are you. You’ll be amazed at how your mood improves, your well-being increases, and your overall life enjoyment gets better, just from getting more shut-eye.

Relaxing on couch

You see how much you are being depended on…and sometimes, maybe even used. We love our friends and family. We enjoy doing things for them and being needed. But there are times when people get carried away with how much they lean on us. Taking a week off, focusing on your own needs, allows you to re-assess, and perhaps address some unfair situations that could be affecting your relationships and adding stress to your life. It may give you a chance to evaluate on how doing one task may take away from your enjoyment of spending time with your children, your partner, or your own interests.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating becoming a couch potato for weeks on end! But giving yourself time to reflect as the new year starts, being honest about what we are capable of, and more than anything, giving ourselves permission to simply be and not allow our “lack of doing” to diminish our value in our own eyes. It’s worth some down time to ponder.

Contributing Writer

Thursday, October 10, 2013

World Mental Health Day 2013

World Mental Healthy Day is October 10.  The goal of this designated day is to raise awareness of mental health, also known as behavioral health. While the specific focus for 2013 is older adults, mental illness can affect anyone, at any age.

World Mental Health Day

What is mental health?

Also known as behavioral health, mental health is a complex component of health that encompasses your mood, thinking and behavior.  Mental health has an impact on your day-to-day functioning, as well as work, activities and relationships.

Mental illness statistics:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health,

  • Mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease
  • 25% of American adults (18+) and 13% of American children (8-15) are diagnosed with mental illness during a given year
  • Major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are among the U.S.’s top 10 leading causes of disability
  • 8 out of 10 individuals suffering from mental illness return to normal activities after receiving proper treatment

Types of mental illness:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Addictive behaviors

Experts agree that even more important than knowing the different types of mental illnesses is recognizing warning signs, which are crucial to early diagnosis and proper treatment.

Warning signs of mental illness or episode:

  • Social withdrawal or loss of interest in others
  • Noticeable decline in performance at work or school
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Changes in sleep patterns or personal hygiene
  • Heightened sensitivity to the senses--sight, sound, smell or touch
  • Unusual sense of power or abilities
  • Mood swings
  • Suspicious feelings

According to the professionals at, a combination of these symptoms and their negative impact on daily activity might indicate an underlying mental illness.

Is a nervous breakdown a sign of mental illness?

An episode usually caused by extreme stress, a nervous breakdown creates a psychiatric response in an individual. It may indicate underlying mental illness.

What should you do if someone threatens suicide?

  • Take the threat seriously
  • Get help
  • Act quickly
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Visit for suicide prevention information.

Can mental illness be prevented?

Because behavioral health is contributed to a variety of factors, including social, demographic, psychological and biological, experts believe it can’t be prevented. However, awareness and early detection can be key in preventing major episodes and hospitalization.

What factors may be helpful in maintaining good mental health?

  • Stress management
  • An overall healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a healthy diet
  • Socialization
  • Engaging in hobbies, sports or activities you enjoy
  • Maintaining medication schedule, if applicable

According to a study in Britain, findings support the idea that those eating a healthy diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer from depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Why don’t individuals suffering from mental illness get help?

  • May not be aware help is needed
  • Might be concerned about stigma attached to mental illness
  • Concern about taking medications
  • View their condition as a sign of weakness

Behavioral health is a vital aspect of enjoying overall good health. World Mental Health Day provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of mental health with your family.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer