The Importance of Quality Sleep for Your Mental Health

Ever heard the phrase "sleep when you're dead"? Living in a fast paced, go-go-go society leads to this mentality that sleep is for the weak and there's no time for it. The fact of the matter is, quality sleep will affect both your physical and mental health, so it's pretty important to get those hours of rest!Whitney Barkman - The Importance of Quality Sleep for your Mental Health

— The Importance of Quality Sleep

Sleep issues have long been associated with mental health issues, but it was always as a side effect of them. Now more is known about how sleep is actually affecting your mental health, not the other way around. A consistent lack of quality sleep affects the part of your brain that regulates emotions. Due to fatigue, you can struggle with your ability to control your emotions which leads to stronger feelings of negativity which can further impact your sleep patterns. And the cycle goes on.Sleep deprivation not only leads to more negative emotions but also mood swings and more erratic behaviour.Whitney Barkman - The Importance of Quality Sleep for your Mental Health

— Sleep Quality and Depression

When it comes to depression, sleep is a funny thing. You can feel like you're sleeping all the time when you're feeling depressed. You experience a lack of energy and motivation that leads to lethargy and sleeping more than usual. But this sleep isn't a good quality sleep hence why you end up feeling consistently tired. Sleeping too much can be just as detrimental as sleeping too little.

— How to Improve Sleep Quality

Here are a few tips I love that ensure sleep is restful and deep:

  • Stop the use of screens at least 30 minutes before bed to allow your mind to wind down.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes doing slow and gentle holding stretches which will loosen your body.
  • Meditate or spend 5 minutes deep breathing to calm both your body and mind.
  • Reduce sugar intake throughout your day but especially in the afternoon and evening as this can disrupt your sleep.
  • Create a bedroom oasis. Calm colours, quiet space, curtains or blinds to ensure darkness.
  • Don't work in bed. Make sure your body and mind know that your bed is for sleeping!
  • When you wake up in the morning or when you're alarm goes off, get up! Hitting snooze or dozing can actually make you feel more tired than if you get up a bit earlier. 

Do you feel you get at least 8 hours of deep and restful sleep? What are some tips you can try to improve your sleep quality?

Love & LightWhitney

What Self Care Really Means

The term self care covers many different activities, mindsets and habits that are all centered around, you guessed it, caring for yourself. But there's a lot more that goes into self care than you might think. Hint, it's more than bubble baths and pedicures. Here's what self care really means.Whitney Barkman - What Self Care Really Means

— Self Acceptance

Part of caring for yourself is accepting yourself. As you are, right now in this moment. Flaws, mistakes, insecurities and all. Easier said than done, right? There can and will always be growth, changes and shifts to explore, but the real key to self care and a balanced mental state is accepting yourself, wherever you may be, right now. Moving forward through growth from a place of self acceptance actually sets the foundation for more sustainable and healthy change.

— Self Love

Another big, trendy term right now. But it's important and again, it builds a strong foundation for any form of growth. Millions of women struggle with truly loving themselves. I know I struggled with this for many years. Self love really just means being kind, gentle and patient with yourself. You don't need to do, have or be anything other than your unique, authentic self and realizing this is self love.Whitney Barkman - What Self Care Really Means

— Remembering Your Own Needs

The only activities that need to fall under self care are these. Your own needs. These can vary week to week or day to day. These will vary from person to person. But true self care, is ensuring all your needs are met. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Taking a rest when you're tired, choosing a healthy meal when you need energy, taking a bath if you need alone time, asking for help or guidance when you're struggling with something. Take time each day to ask yourself what needs you need to take care of.

— Remembering Your Worth

This one is simple. Definitely not easy. But simple. You are worthy. Right now. You are worthy just by your very existence.Whitney Barkman - What Self Care Really Means

— Self Forgiveness

We all make mistakes. We all say something we may later wish we hadn't. But, we cannot change the past. What's done is done. The only control you have is to choose differently in the present moment. Release regrets and understand that every "mistake" or "failure" you'e experienced is something you can learn from. You wouldn't be where you are today without each and every experience you've had. Practice gratitude and forgiveness for your past. And choose differently in the present.

— Asking For Help

Last but not least. Self care can sometimes mean asking for help. I believe everyone has the power within themselves to heal, change and grow. But I also believe that having guidance through counselling, a coach, mentor or friend is extremely powerful. Don't feel shame in asking for help if you need it. Looking after yourself and your needs sometimes requires outside support.What area can you spend more time exploring in your self care? Where can you show yourself more kindness and release shame surrounding how you show up for yourself?

Love & LightWhitney

How Sugar Impacts Mental Health and 8 Tips to Reduce Consumption

I think it's safe to say that you know how sugar affects you. You know that if you consume something sweet and sugary you'll experience a boost of energy and a sugar high and probably a lull or crash soon after leaving you craving another boost. But do you know how sugar impacts your mental health? And are you aware of the damage that this continual cycle with sugar is causing your gut? How the heck do you break the cycle when sugar is everywhere and you're kind of addicted to it?

Whitney Barkman - How Sugar Impacts Mental Health and 8 Tips to Reduce Consumption

— How Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health

1.Depression

The ups and downs of a sugar high and the crash can exaggerate mood symptoms. Research has even tied high amounts of sugar consumption to an increased risk for depression. There are a few theories of how sugar can impact depression, one of them being that sugar is a cause of inflammation in the gut and brain. And this inflammation can disrupt your gut flora and the production of important chemicals/neurotransmitters needed to maintain a healthy mood balance.

2.Anxiety

A diet high in refined sugar can worsen anxiety and impair your body's ability to cope with stress. Symptoms such as shaking, tension, nervousness and even panic attacks can be caused by (or made worse by) sugar consumption. 

Whitney Barkman - How Sugar Impacts Mental Health and 8 Tips to Reduce Consumption

— 8 Ways to Reduce Sugar Consumption

Sugar is a highly addictive substance that is added to almost all processed and pre-packaged foods. Cutting down your consumption can be tricky, but here are some tips to help you overcome sugar addiction.

1.Reduce or Eliminate Caffeine

The ups and downs that come with caffeine can include dehydration and blood sugar swings, causing sweet cravings.

2.Drink Water

Sweet cravings can sometimes be caused by dehydration. When you're experiencing a craving, have a glass of water and see if that helps.

3.Eat Naturally Sweet Foods

Consuming more fruit and naturally sweet vegetables will help curb the unhealthy sugar cravings.

4.Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Switch to gentle and natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, dried fruit or stevia. Though these should still be consumed in moderation.

5.Move Your Body

Start with simple activities such as yoga or walking for 10 minutes a day then increase. Being physically active balances blood sugar levels, boosts energy and reduces tension.

6.Get More Sleep

Sugar is a quick energy source when your body and mind are exhausted. Increase your sleep quantity or quality to help reduce cravings caused by being tired. 

7.Eliminate Fat Free Snacks

Healthy fats can actually help balance blood sugar. And fat free or low fat snacks are usually loaded up with sugar.

8.Experiment With Spices

Spices such as coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves can naturally sweeten foods and will reduce your sugar cravings. 

Kick refined sugar out with some of these tips from above and feel the balance that can come to your mental health. 

 

Love & Light
Whitney