My Thoughts On Self-Care

Published by: Kate

What is ‘Self-Care?’  I hear this term all the time. But what does it mean? How does one accomplish it?

I found a post on The Mighty website called 20 ‘Legit’ Self-Care Ideas (For When Bubble Baths Just Don’t Cut It).  It had some great tips for, in my opinion when things get really rough, self-care. The article really got me thinking about the topic of self-care.

Merriam-Webster defines self-care as “Care for oneself…” (Merriam-Webster, Self-Care, 2018 Merriam-Webster Incorporated).  The Oxford Dictionary explains it in more detail. They defined it as the “…action to preserve or improve one’s own health” and “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” (Oxford Living Dictionaries, Self-Care, 2018 Oxford University Press).

Neither of these dictionaries really explain self-care; or how to achieve itI am still left wondering what self-care means.

I found several interesting articles & blog posts on this subject.  One that I really related to was 45 Simple Self-Care Practices For A Healthy Mind, body, & Soul I found on the Tiny Buddha website.  This article, by Ellen Bard, made me think about what I had gone through the past few years.

In it, the author details how she struggled through her career & left no time for her self.  I related to this because I went through something similar.  Several years ago my depression relapsed; I hated myself, I hated my life, & I hated where I was headed.  I tried to make changes in my life in order to “snap out of it” but nothing worked.  It got to the point that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning; I was not taking care of myself at all whatsoever.

Like the author, spoiler alert, I too quit my job.  I started to focus on myself.  After leaving I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders; I had a momentary release of stress.  I started focusing on my health & started exercising.  The best part is I started to do it to make myself feel better.  My mental health is what I wanted to take care of.

For me, self-care is taking care of my mental health just as much as my physical health.

In my research, I also realized that self-care is not just for persons dealing with mental illness.  It is something that everyone needs to practice.

The website Lifehacker, in the article Why Self Care Is So Important, provides three reasons why self-care is important to everyone.  To sum up the article: reducing stress, refocusing, & preventing burnout are the major reasons one needs to practice self-care.  These are things that happen in everyday life.

Have you ever had a ton of overtime at work?  Or had taken on too many tasks at once? I know I have; this has actually happened on several occasions in my life.  Overworking oneself can cause some major stress both on the mind and the body itself.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA):

“Shift workers may be scheduled to work days, evenings, nights and/or on a rotating or on-call basis. They may work extended shifts (more than 8 hours long), rotating or irregular shifts, or consecutive shifts resulting in more than the typical 40-hour work week. Long work hours may increase the risk of injuries and accidents and can contribute to poor health and worker fatigue. Studies show that long work hours can result in increased levels of stress, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and illness. It is important to recognize the symptoms of worker fatigue and its potential impact on each worker’s safety and health and on the safety of co-workers. (OSHA, Long Work Hours, Extended or Irregular Shifts, and Worker Fatigue, 2018)

I saw in a Facebook video that on average Americans work around fifty hours a week.  If you factor in children, errands, travel time, etc.  There doesn’t leave a lot of room for relaxation.  Stress can lead to many health problems.  The Mayo Clinic indicates that “…chronic stress can wear you down and overwhelm you…productivity may decrease, your relationships may suffer, you may develop sleep problems…” (Daniel K. Hall-Flavin M.D., Stress Management, 2018).  That is why self-care is so important.

There are many ways to achieve self-care.  That being said self-care can is also different for everyone.

Many of the websites I found provide ideas for self-care.  Some suggest taking deep breaths to oxygenate your body, taking a walk, or even stretching.  These are helpful; I often do these sometimes to help release some built up tension from daily stress.  But what if your stress is so bad that or so chronic that you feel like nothing will help?

Take a day off.  Take a day off to unwind.  Take a bubble bath. Watch some Netflix or Hulu, maybe even read a book & lounge around.  I know it may sound simple but these have always helped me.  When things got really bad for me I started exercising more & really concentrated on making myself feel better.

Self-care, I believe, is about making sure you feel good both inside & out.  Making sure you make time for yourself; even if you “can’t find the time” take a minute or a few seconds to do something that makes you feels good.  Do something that makes you happy, that is the best self-care.

If you’re still in a funk talk to someone about it.

Sometimes talking can be the best form of self-care.  You should never be uncomfortable to ask someone for help.  If you are not sure of where to go there are several phone applications or websites that provide online assistance.  BetterHelp Online Therapy is one website helps match you with the right online therapist.  Headspace is a phone application that helps you clear your mind and meditate; Talkspace is similar but it allows you to talk to a counselor.

You could even just talk to a friend or a family member.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a person directly you could even try writing about it.  Sometimes just getting your frustration or stress out creatively can really help.

The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself.

Are Headaches A Symptom Of A Mental Health Issue?

Published by: Kate

migraine-meme-7-drastic-measuresI have suffered from headaches since I was in college; that has almost been thirteen to fourteen years of headaches.  The first diagnoses were tension headaches; now, they are termed ‘migraines’ by a neurologist.  I have also had an ER doctor say they may be ‘Cluster Headaches.’  Who knows at this point.

What triggers them? I have no idea what triggers my headaches.  Sometimes I think it could be my menstrual cycle.  The neurologist I see thinks that stress could be a trigger.  Sometimes I think my sleep cycle may be a trigger.  Thinking about it, a lot of these can be connected.

They can be connected to anxiety.  For me, I get very anxious in stressful situations.  This can cause me to lose sleep because of my mind racing; repeating the situation over and over again.  It then creates a cycle because lack of sleep leads to more stress and it continues.

According to the Anxiety Centre: “Behaving in an anxious manner activates the body’s stress response. The stress response stresses the body. Muscle contraction headaches are commonly caused by stress, including the stress caused by being overly anxious” (Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Anxiety, Headaches, Migraines, Head Tension Symptoms, Last updated July 21, 2018).  I believe this is a likely scenario behind the headaches that many people deal with.

Is there more to it?  Does anxiety explain all headaches?  Sometimes I get headaches that last for several days.  They are so severe and the pain is so bad that I have to go to the hospital.  The National Headache Foundation states that:

“Chronic tension-type (muscle contraction) headaches may conceal a serious emotional disorder, such as depression. The patient will present with a persistent and vague headache, for which no organic cause can be determined. For the patient, the physical symptoms are more socially acceptable than the anxiety or depressive symptoms; many patients are certain there is a somatic basis for their pain…

[Also that] researchers have reported a weak but si

gnificant relationship between migraine and depression. They noted a high correlation between depression and migraine in relation to weakness, sensory disturbance, difficulty with speech and loss of consciousness…” (National Headache Foundation, Headache.org, 2018).

migraine-meme-2-fluorescent-office-space

This article also explains that these headaches often feel as though a rubber band is squeezing the circumference of the head.  This feeling is also associated with “tension headaches.”  This leads me to believe that these types of headaches are likely a symptom of anxiety and or depression.

In fact, the Anxiety And Depression Association of America cited a 2009 study which stated that:

“…Researchers found that 11 percent of participants in the study had migraines and a variety of disorders: major depression, general anxiety disorder (GAD), dysthymia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, panic disorder, substance abuse disorders, agoraphobia, and simple phobia.

Many studies have found that people with GAD and panic disorder in particular experience migraines or other types of headaches.

And people with a co-occurring anxiety disorder and migraines have an increased likelihood of experiencing major depression; as many as 40% of patients with migraine also experience depression.” (Anxiety And Depression Association of America, Headaches, 2018).

This data leads me to believe that there is a correlation between mental illness and headaches.

Does this mean that anyone with Migraines or Headaches has a mental illness? No, it doesn’t.  I wouldn’t say that any person who is diagnosed with migraines or headaches has a mental illness.  There are plenty of factors that can be the cause of migraines or headaches; smells, food, beverages, flickering lights etc can trigger these in individuals.  I know several people who get headaches or migraines but have no diagnosed mental illness.  It also doesn’t mean that migraines or headaches lead to mental illness either.

So, are headaches a symptom of mental illness? There are a lot of articles out there on this subject.  From the research I have done I am lead to believe that these can be a physical symptom of mental illness.  I wouldn’t suggest that this is true for everyone; headaches, migraines, anxiety, and depression affect every person differently.  It is easy to see how these physical conditions can affect some individuals with mental illness.

 

POEM: I Am A Survivor – Author Anonymous

(image may be copyrighted; we do not own the rights)

I AM A SURVIVOR – By Anonymous (6/12/18)

I am a survivor.

As a young (very young child) I was sexually abused.

I survived.

I was taken from my home and put into foster care.

I survived.

From a teenager to a young adult I dealt with thoughts and actions around self-harm.

I survived.

I struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety every day of my life.

I survive.

I am a survivor of trauma and mental illness.

I have no visible symptoms.

I sometimes act without thinking.

I have an illness that I see a doctor for.

I have a stigma placed on me; I am a survivor.

Night Anxiety – Why Can’t I Sleep?

Published by Kate.
Preface/disclaimer:
I was debating what I wanted my first article to be about.  I went through a variety of topics.  Then I decided that my first one should be personal.  To discuss something that I go through with my mental illness.  So I decided to write about nighttime anxiety;  I experience this several times a month.  It can be a real pain.  Everything in this article is based on my opinion and the research I have conducted.  I am not a medical professional.

Have you ever gone to bed but your mind won’t rest?  You keep thinking about things?  Your ‘to do list’? or incidents from your past?  Have you woken up from sleep and have a rapid heart rate? or Sweating? These are some symptoms of anxiety that I have and believe it or not this all happens at night.a82aa344598531e6ff20f6f14ee3c7e9

What is this called? Some term it night anxiety: anxiety that occurs at night time. Is this a real medical condition? or is it an aspect of an anxiety condition that causes sleep problems?

The Mayo Clinic dictates that panic attacks can occur while one is asleep.  These are called Nocturnal Panic Attacks.  According to their expertise, these episodes can be triggered by a number of factors; stress was being one of them (for me, stress plays a big part of my anxiety).  This may not always be the problem though.

Anxiety can be associated with sleep disorders such as insomnia.  EverydayHealth states that research has shown that people with anxiety often are unable to clear their mind, fall asleep, and stay asleep (EverydayHealth, Is Anxiety Keeping You Up At Night? Diana Rodriguez, 2018).  When it is time to sleep the mind just keeps racing; for me, this happens often.  I believe this is an issue that happens to many people; especially those who have anxiety.  You just stress out about stuff regardless of how important or unimportant it may be.  I do this all the time.

anxiety-disorder

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA, indicates that:

More than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million report sleeping problems occasionally, according to the National Institutes of Health. (ADAA, Sleep Disorders, 2010-2018).

As of 2017, the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) estimated that 19.1% of adults in the US had an anxiety disorder (NIMH, Any Anxiety Disorder, November 2017).  One can imagine what crossover percentage of these two statistics could be.

Personally, I believe, that my night anxiety is attached to my anxiety disorder.  I tend to worry about situations that have occurred or coping with uncomfortable situations that may occur.  I tend to process them by thinking about them constantly.  I often use avoidance as a mechanism to prevent my anxiety.

Fortunately, there is a lot of information out on the internet on way to overcome and or prevent these restless nights.  Exercise seems to be the consensus across many websites I researched.  I exercise every day and have still been experiencing bouts of night anxiety.  So what are some other methods?

anxiety-charlie-brown

I’ve read meditation is one method of clearing the mind and decreasing stress or anxiety.  In an article posted by Harvard Medical School mindfulness meditation and how it helps with anxiety was discussed.  In the article Dr. Elizabeth Hoge (Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorder) is quoted as stating:

 “People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.” (Harvard Medical School, Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress, Julie Corliss, October 2017)

If you are able to meditate this may be a good option to do prior to bedtime.  I know for me that this can be difficult to do.  I would suggest doing this in a relaxing environment; for me, when I get extremely stressed out I sometimes take long baths as I find them extremely relaxing.  Mindfulness Meditation could be something good to practice in what environment makes you the most relaxed.

Magnesium is a nice over the counter remedy that use is practiced as an alternative medicine.  This was recommended to me by my chiropractor and is mentioned on several websites dedicated to alternative medicine.  The website Natural Alternative Therapies states that Magnesium deficiency is a top reason for anxiety disorders and that magnesium is essential for good sleep and stress reduction.  I have no sources, statistics, or research to back this statement up.  But I do have experience.  I tried an over the counter powdered Magnesium called Natural Calm.  I simply put it in a water bottle and drank it after the powder was diluted.  It worked like a charm.  I slept so good;  I know to keep some on hand and I may try this method again.

There is, of course, the typical seeking the help of a professional.  But some people are wary of this road right away.  Wich, I can understand;  some people chose alternative methods of treatment for religious reasons or beliefs.  There is also a stigma associated with seeking treatment for mental illness so many individuals are deterred from seeking help from professionals.

You can find so many recommendations on how to prevent night anxiety on the internet.  Unfortunately, there will be trial and error until you can find what can or will work for you.  I hope this article can assist someone who may be dealing with this problem as I have.

What This Webpage Is About?

Have you struggled with mental illness? Have you been looking for a place to go where you won’t feel judged?  Have you had negative thoughts about life?  Have you purposefully harmed yourself?  Do you feel like you need to reach out for help but are scared?

If you answered yes to any of those questions I am here to say you’re not alone.

I created this website based on my experiences regarding mental illness.  I, myself, can answer yes to all of those questions.  Often, I struggled with finding information or places to go to for help.  I also often chose not to get help because of the judgment that was placed on me for having a mental illness.  I hated that.  I hated that feeling and wanted to change it.

So, I made this spot on the internet to help anyone who may need it.  It is a continued work in progress.  I hope to add resources, articles, supportive memes, and contributions from others who have been struggling with mental illness.  Kind of a virtual support group so to say.

My goal is to change the stigma that surrounds mental illness in this country.  I want to raise awareness that these illness are an epidemic.  More needs to be done and those of us who are struggling should not fear to get help.

I encourage anyone who wishes to contribute to hit the contact tab and let me know what you want to add.  It can be anything you want; poetry, art, songs, links to resources, social media groups, whatever.  Just know that I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional so I can’t offer advice.