Rest and relaxation is a large piece of self-care needed to keep our mental health in check. The saying “you can’t help others unless you help yourself” is really true. We need to restore ourselves and fill our cups before we can take care of those around us. But for many “resting” can seem like a luxury or even uncomfortable. This post is a reminder of the many different ways we can “rest” and restore our mental wellbeing.

1. Physical

Physical rest can be as simple as getting adequate sleep. It can also mean taking a nap, engaging in yoga or even just taking a few deep breathes. Rest does not have a time requirement. Sometimes all we need is just 5 minutes to focus on our breath or do some stretching to re-center ourselves. 

2. Mental

Mental rest is like first aide for your mind. This includes meditation- silent or guided your choice. It can also be listening to calming music or your favorite music.  Mental rest can also be writing down or looking up some positive affirmations to keep your self in a good mental state.

3. Emotional

Emotional rest means to allow yourself to really explore and work through your emotions. You know by allowing yourself to feel, rather than bottling it up and pushing them aside. This could be by calling a friend, speaking with a therapist or attending a support group. 

4. Social

A rest can also mean taking some time to be social. A social rest is when you let go of work and everyday chores and worries and going to someone who brightens your day. This can be a friend, mentor or non-stressful family member.

5. Creative

Creative rest is another way to take a mental break. For you creative people this is engaging in art, crochet, macramé, knitting, writing poetry and/or stories. For those who don’t identify as creative this can be reading, walking in nature or looking at artwork. 

6. Sensory

A sensory rest means taking a break from the things causing us sensory over-load or anxiety. This can mean shutting your phone off or taking a break from watching the news. 

7. Spiritual

Reconnecting with your spirituality is another form of taking a rest. This can be in the form of prayer, reading scripture or volunteering your time to help others. 

If you feel you need more help to restore your mental wellbeing and start enjoying your life give our office a call. We'd love to help you.

Stay Shining,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW

It’s a known fact that our species are social beings. We evolved by living in communities relying on one-another to help us meet our daily needs like: food, child-care, shelter, safety, and of course emotional well being. Nowadays though, that sense of community seems to have dissipated in our individualistic society. Life get’s busy, we have to work, we have to pay our bills and socialization has become more of a luxury than a daily given. But it truly is essential for our emotional and mental well being to have a supportive network of friends and family to help us through tough times.

Socialization & Brain Chemistry

One of the most calming experiences can be to spend time with people who make you feel loved and understood. Face-to face interaction can counter act our body’s “fight or flight” response by releasing a slew of hormones that elevate our mood. When we socialize with those we love our brain releases “oxytocin” which is a lovely little chemical that boosts mood. Oxytocin is produced by a part of the brain which is instrumental in regulating many of the most basic and necessary physical rhythms of the body: sleep, hunger, thirst, and emotional reaction. Oxytocin has also been shown to be the driving factor in the triggering of another fabulous chemical “Dopamine”. Dopamine release signals feelings of pleasure and supports behaviors we need to survive- such as eating, drinking and procreating.

Socialization & Reduction of Dementia Risks

Building social networks and participating in social activities are like exercises for your brain because they keep your mind agile and improve cognitive function. In a California study published by the American Journal of Public Health, researchers reported that older women who managed large social networks reduced their risk of dementia by 26%. Furthermore, women who had daily contact with their individuals in their social circle cut their risk of dementia by almost half!

Socialization Effects on Depression & Anxiety

Close supportive relationships with friends, family and colleagues act as a buffer to hashes of the real world. They improve our feelings of self-worth, lower our symptoms of depression and anxiety and help us to feel accepted. When you have loved ones to lean on in times of stress and to fill your life with fulfilling activities, you are less likely to struggle with anxiety and depression related symptoms. 

Socialization & Stress

Socializing is just a good way in general to take your mind off the stressors of life. Participating in social activities alleviates pressure, gives us something to look forward to on the hard days and take our mind off of stressors easier than when we do activities alone. 

In Summation

Socialization is a basic NEED. We all need to feel loved and accepted by others. It fuels our brain chemistry; affecting our mood, diet, thought patterns and self-esteem. If you or a loved one need help in becoming more social due to struggling with mental health symptoms, we would be glad to help you get there. Contact our office to see how we can assist you in moving towards the life you want and deserve. 

Stay Shining,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress is an unavoidable, normal bodily reaction to the challenges of daily life. Stress is a sign that you are alive; that you are pushing yourself and have care and concern for the people and situations that surround you.

Stress becomes a problem when the amount and severity of stress exceeds your capacity to cope. Some signs that stress may be taking a negative toll on your body and mind include exhaustion, chest pain, headaches, muscle tension, excessive worry, panic attacks, hopelessness, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, sadness, or engaging excessively in unhealthy behaviors (i.e. drinking/drug use, shopping, overeating, sex, or gambling).

Stress in unavoidable. However, consistent practice of healthy coping skills can reduce the detrimental impact stress can have on your overall well-being. Here are five 5-minute stress busters; 5 simple things you can do in 5 minutes or less to reduce the negative impact of stress in your life.

1. Jump!

Engage in 4 sets of jumping jacks for 45 seconds on, and 15 seconds of rest. Intense cardiovascular exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) while increasing the feel-good endorphins (dopamine and serotonin). Exercise also forces you to be fully engrossed the present moment, giving your mind a welcome reprieve from your current worries.

2. Breathe.

The breathing method known as the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique has been scientifically proven to regulate cortisol, which controls your body’s fight or flight response. Find a comfortable position, and set a timer for five minutes. If you can, close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. By doing so, you are teaching your body to counteract the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that occurs during stressful situations, which will help you to feel calmer and more at ease.

3. Write.

Writing is extremely therapeutic. Writing down the often big, scary, and chaotic thoughts that accompany stress can result in these thoughts becoming more tangible and less frightening than they were when they only existed in your head. Once you can see the problem more clearly, the solution doesn’t seem so daunting and out of reach. Try writing try a stream of consciousness style of writing, in which you write what is causing you stress for 4 minutes. Next, reread your writing and sort out what you can versus what you cannot control of the what you have written down. Recommit to doing your best towards what is within your control, and crumple up the paper to symbolize letting go of the worries that are out of your control.

4. Be Mindful.

Mindfulness is defined as engaging in a set of practices that anchor you to the present moment. Most stress results not only from the events themselves, but the negative projections into the future about how overbearing or overwhelming the stressor will be once we experience it. Being mindful to stay in the present moment can help you to slow down and clear away unnecessary, self-induced stress. Many of our worries never actually come to fruition. Take five minutes to pay attention to the sights, smells, sounds, touches, and tastes that surround. Repeat the positive affirmation “You are where your feet are” in an effort to remind you that you don’t have to be ten steps ahead of yourself; all you need to be is right here, and right now. 

5. Laugh!

Many of us are guilty of taking ourselves far too seriously. Luckily, we live an era where we have endless entertainment at our fingertips, so why not take advantage of it? Type in your internet search engine, “Funniest animal videos”, “funniest TV bloopers” or “funniest stand-up comedy clips,” and give yourself 5 minutes to watch and laugh. Laughing helps to relieve your body’s stress response, relieve tension by relaxing your muscles, enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart and lungs, and increases endorphin production. It’s no wonder that they say laughter is the best medicine. 

Stress can be crippling, but it doesn’t have to be.

Take preventative measures to manage your stress with these helpful techniques, and you will be able to cope effectively with whatever life throws your way. If you need help managing stress give our office a call, we'd love to help you start living a life you can enjoy!

– Alexandria (Alex) Fairchild, LMSW

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