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Tips for better sleep

Sleeping may come easily for some but not for others. I cringe when I hear the term “sleep like a baby” because babies tend to wake up frequently through the night! Whether you are a light or heavy sleeper, here are three things that can help you improve your sleep:

  • Establish a bed time: It may be difficult to find an exact time to go to sleep as the demands of the day never end. However, something that is helpful is to establish a consistent bed time that is suitable to your schedule. Maybe you can start with establishing a bed time for Monday through Friday and be a little more flexible with your bed time during the weekend.

  • Turn down the blue light: It can be very easy to fall asleep with the TV on or scrolling through TikTok. If you are anything like me, watching TV is like a lullaby. According to research done by Harvard Health, however, blue light exposure seemed to suppress melatonin levels and shifted circadian rhythms (your sleep rhythm) twice as much as other colored lights1. I recommend putting your phone to rest and turning off the TV at least one hour prior to your bed time.

  • Limit food and liquid consumption as well as exercise: In order to decrease going to the bathroom and night and digestion issues, it is best to limit eating or drinking up to three hours prior to your bed time. I recommend the same for exercise.

In addition to medication and natural supplements, therapy can assist in restructuring thinking patters and managing anxiety that is related to sleep issues. Techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia provide evidence-based practices to reduce insomnia and increase restful sleep. If you need help or more information, contact us.

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Goal Setting Tips

January is right around the corner and it is the perfect time to start setting goals for the upcoming year. January gives us that sense of “newness” and a fresh start. Many people sign up for the gym or start making other changes. It is the perfect time to come to therapy as well! But before that, here are some tips to create goals for the new year.

Prior to writing about the SMART approach to setting goals, I want you to think about your intention for the new year. It could be the year that you take care of your physical health or focus on your career. You could also intent to build on relationships, spiritual matters or establish financial goals. So first step: start with your intention for this year. What do you want to focus on in the next 12 months?

Once you establish your intention for the New Year. Follow these simple steps to create attainable goals. We use the SMART approach, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

  • SPECIFIC: Narrow down your goal to something more specific. For example, instead of saying “I want to be fit”, start with “I want to lose weight” as a more specific definition of what being fit means to you.
  • MEASURABLE: Define what measure you will use to ensure that your specific goal is making progress. For example, now your goal will translate from “I want to lose weight” to “I want to lose 20 pounds”.
  • ATTAINABLE: This is the part where you evaluate your goal. Is 20 pounds reasonable for you? Is it challenging enough that will keep you motivated when motivation is lost? If it is attainable, then move to the next step. If it is not, modify. Maybe losing 20 pounds is not attainable for you so you can modify it to say “I want to lose 10 pounds”.
  • RELEVANT: Ask yourself: does this goal align with my values. Maybe you want to lose 20 puns because someone else is imposing that on you rather than it being something that you value for yourself. We always want to be authentic with ourselves before pleasing others.
  • TIME-BOUND: Every good goal has a target date. The last question to ask yourself is : by when do I want to accomplish this goal? Establishing a deadline gives us a reasonable time and sense of urgency when accomplishing our goals. Ensure that the deadline you are setting is attainable. For example, it is not reasonable to say “I want to lose 20 pounds by January 31st” if you are starting to eat better and exercise on January 1st; at least it’s not healthy. A more attainable date could be “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31st”.

Once you establish a deadline, your goal is set! I encourage you to practice goal setting in different domains of your life, such as, social life, finances, career, spiritual life and physical health.

Let us know if this helped! Happy New Year.

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Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Holidays are here! While it can be the most wonderful time of the year for many, this season may be difficulty for others emotionally speaking. During the months of Fall and Winter, individuals may experience Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern, which is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some of the symptoms include, pervasive sadness, hopelessness, social isolation, increased or decreased sleep and appetite and even suicidal thoughts.

We thought it would be helpful to have some tips to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder or “the holiday blues”. Here are 4 tips on how to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Light Therapy: Many experience SAD due to how much faster sunset comes during the winter. To counter this, people can expose themselves to a very bright light for 30-45 minutes per day. This has proven to improve mood during the winter.
  • Psychotherapy: It is helpful to have a professional you can talk to in order to explore these feelings and even more ways to cope with them in the winter season.
  • Exercise: When suffering from SAD the most common symptom is depressive moods. Exercising is a great tool that will help your brain produce endorphines, which will improve mood. It will help you have better focus, memory, and overall health.
  • Medication: If the symptoms are severe enough, the professionals will most likely refer you to someone who will be able to prescribe the necessary medication for your specific symptoms. It is always very important that you do not self diagnos, but get evaluated first.

If you are in need of more skills to manage Seasonal Affective Disorder, contact us today.

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Recommended Faith-Based Books

For those who enjoy reading, self-help books can be a therapeutic tool that combined with regular counseling, can provide an extra push in progressing through some of our biggest stressors. Even without attending counseling, reading can provide benefits, such as stress reduction, knowledge, mental stimulation, improved focus and concentration, among others.

If you share the Christian Faith, you can find a list of Hope Counseling’s top 3 recommended faith-based books that can be helpful in your therapeutic process or just in life in general. Even if you don’t share the Christian Faith, these books encompass practical elements that can be implemented in every day life.

present over perfect

Written by Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect shares about Shauna’s journey of choosing a more simple life and embracing that life that she was meant to live rather than stretching herself to please others.

Recommended for: Individuals who struggle with establishing boundaries,  are consumed by the stress of intense demands, struggle with perfection and self-imposed expectations, and want to find a way to choose and live a more simple life.

Dr. Gary Chapman brings an alternative point of view regarding the way we love. Written in 1995, The 5 Love Languages takes a closer look at how individuals love one another and provides practical tips to apply the concepts discussed on a daily basis.

Recommended for: Couples and individuals who would like to engage in a journey about self-discovery and would like to improve their relationships by understanding how they love and how others around them love them.

Emily Ley is an author, mother and entrepreneur whose mission is to inspire women to live a simple life. Grace not Perfection tells part of Emily’s story in creating a simple life and steps that she took to do so. With sections that allow the reader to journal, this book allows for women to evaluate their lives and create an action plan to simply their lives.

Recommended for: Busy women who feel overwhelmed by their daily responsibilities and would like to develop practical skills to simply their lives.