Alcohol causes drowsiness. This has led to the popular misconception that it can aid sleep. Up to 20 percent of Americans report using alcohol as a sleep aid. However, alcohol negatively impacts the quality of your sleep, as well as how long you can expect to sleep. Alcohol consumption before bed causes interrupted sleep, due to side effects such as night sweats and disturbed REM sleep.
Alcohol dependence and sleep disorders are often co-morbid – people suffer both at the same time. Alcohol-related sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, and daytime fatigue.
The problem with using alcohol as a sleep aid
Alcohol does reduce the initial amount of time required for you to fall asleep. However, it result in disrupted sleep.
The problem with using one drink as a sleep aid, is that while it may work initially, eventually your body develops a tolerance for it. As a result, you may find yourself needing more and more levels of alcohol in order to fall asleep, which can lead to alcoholism. Using alcohol as a sleep aid is dangerous as it can lead to dependence and even alcoholism.
One drink before bed may not impact sleep quality or length. However, the effects of alcohol on sleep are directly correlated – the more alcohol that is consumed, the worse the effects on sleep.
Polish artist and graphic designer Dawid Planeta summons gigantic beasts in his series of grayscale illustrations set in a mysterious land. Titled Mini People in the Jungle, his work explores the artist’s personal experience with depression, visualizing the mental journey through dark times. Planeta explains, “It’s a story of a man descending into darkness and chaos in search of himself.”
Polish artist Dawid Planeta’s series Mini People in the Jungle...
Cancer care has progressed significantly in the past few years, but it is still the second-leading cause of death in the United States. A cancer diagnoses rocks a person’s world and can have a negative impact on their mental health. In fact, the emotional and psychological effects can be just as difficult to deal with as the physical ones.
Unfortunately, these problems only make recovery that much more difficult. The mind and body are intrinsically connected. Just as a cancer diagnosis can lead to these psychiatric struggles, feelings of depression and anxiety can make it harder for the body to defend itself from illness. That’s why it is as important to practice mental self-care as it is to go through with physical treatment for cancer.
Don’t Give Up Activities You Enjoy
Fitting in doctor appointments and treatments into your already packed schedule may prompt some sacrifices. However, don’t give up those activities that bring you happiness and reduce stress. Keep up with your favorite hobbies as a source of grounding. Carrying on with the things you love helps to normalize the situation while also boosting positive feelings thanks to a rush of dopamine in the brain.
Spend Time with Those You Love
Nothing makes us appreciate the people in our life like the threat of losing them. Use this cancer diagnoses as the excuse you need to reconnect with the people you love. When spending time with them, don’t just focus on your cancer. Instead, do activities you enjoy together and make memories you can refer to when you are feeling down about your diagnosis.
Prepare Healthy Foods
Your treatment should be left to your oncologist. However, cooking wholesome meals for yourself is a great way to support healthy body function. Make wholesome dishes that nourish your body in its state. Use plenty of fruits and vegetables from across the color spectrum. Start experimenting with new whole grains. Hit up your local farmers market for the best selection of naturally raised meats. If nausea is a problem, try foods that can stimulate the appetite. You can also talk to your doctor about ways to reduce nausea.
Cancer and treatment drain the body of its energy. Moderate exercise supports your body’s recovery while alleviating both physical and mental symptoms. Try gentle exercises such as walking, swimming, or going to a yoga class to reap the benefits.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, there are a lot of emotions. You may feel betrayed by your body and alone in the experience. Seeking support from others who have either been where you are or are going through treatment themselves can help with feelings of isolation. At your support group, you have the opportunity to vent about your feelings and difficulties without feeling like you are burdening those around you.
Support groups aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean lone wolves should keep their emotions inside of them. If you’d rather not join a group, try starting a cancer journal where you can express your frustrations and the difficulties you encounter while going through treatment. Keeping all that negative energy in isn’t good for you so let it out.
Cancer doesn’t just affect a person physically. A diagnosis can be as damaging to a person’s mental health as it is to their physical well-being. To combat the negative effects, practice self-care and support your overall health with a holistic approach.
As Canadian universities and colleges face increasing pressure to provide better mental-health services on campus, students are looking to give schools fresh ideas on how to tackle the issue.
That’s how 24-year-old Ryan Golt became involved with working alongside Montreal’s McGill University to support students. But before he got there, he faced his own mental-health crisis.
After his first year of undergraduate studies, Golt says he began to feel lonely, isolated and irritable. The psychology student started to have issues with his interpersonal relationships, and ultimately, he says he couldn’t function.
“Eventually, it just became too much and the negative emotions started to overcome me,” said Golt.
That was in 2014, when he experienced his first bout of depression. It’s a mental illness that impacts about 14 per cent of students at McGill, and close to 20 per cent of students nation wide, according to recent data from the National College Health Assessment, a survey that presents the health data of students so schools know where to target their services.
Golt spent six months after his diagnosis keeping to himself, and not sharing what had happened with anyone.
After reading other students’ posts on social media groups about their own challenges with mental illness, something switched in him, he said.
“For the first time, I felt like I wasn’t alone, like I was a part of a community,” he said. Sharing his personal story online led him to a community of young people who were talking about mental health, and supporting each other through recovery for mental illness.
Golt said the social aspect of his healing process inspired him to create several mental-health initiatives on the McGill campus, including his own blog called WellMTL. The blog features candid personal stories by students who share their full names, with some discussing anxiety attacks, family troubles, and past issues with suicidal ideation.
This article is in French, but it is great for those of you who speak/read French – the basic premise? “I am stopping complaining for 1 month” – a simple (?) and yet very difficult and very *positive* change to try for yourself!
Deux Belges ont lancé un nouveau défi pour nous aider à lutter efficacement contre la négativité : ne pas se plaindre pendant un mois. Dans un monde où il devient de plus en plus difficile de voir la vie du bon côté, cela devrait nous aider à voir les choses d’une manière plus positive.
Heading back to school after summer vacation? Here’s how to get ready for class.
Whether you love, hate or are indifferent about going back to school, it’s something every student has to prepare for. Here are a few ways to make the transition from summer vacation to a new school year easier:
Keep in touch: over the summer, try to stay in touch with your friends to maintain your relationships. This way, things may seem a little more familiar when you go back to school.
Prepare early: write a list and prepare your back-to-school essentials at the start of the summer instead of the end to avoid the rush.
Refresh your memory: try to practice the things you learned last year while you’re on summer vacation. Reading, writing and applying your math skills can be fun and rewarding.
Sleep smart: in the weeks leading up to your first day, try going to bed earlier each night — and getting up earlier each morning — to help your body adjust to a new schedule.
Visit your school: many schools are open the week before school starts. You can always contact your school, book an appointment, tour the halls and meet your teachers if you need to.
Know the route: no matter what method of transportation you use to get to school, it’s a good idea to test out the route so you know exactly how to get to class and how long it will take.
Prep your meals: if you bring a lunch to school, consider taking some time to pack it the night before instead of in the morning.
Organize your closet: figure out what you’re going to wear on the first day in advance so you’re not stressed about finding something to put on when you wake up in the morning.
Pack your bags: if you’re taking a backpack to school, fill it with whatever school supplies you have (pens, pencils, notebook, agenda, etc.) well before your first day so you’re ready to get up and go.
Stay busy: make the most of summer to keep your mind off the back-to-school blues. For example, you could try taking up a new sport or hobby.
Get support: it’s common to feel nervous about the first day of school. If you need to talk, you can always call a Kids Help Phone counsellor at 1-800-668-6868.
Going back to school after summer vacation can be hard, but there are things you can do to make the transition easier.
When it comes to mental health, a DIY approach might not be the best option
I’ve been leading support groups for a while now, and one of the more interesting themes I’ve noticed is a DIY (“do-it-yourself”) attitude toward our mental health work. Overall, this is healthy and true. We are each responsible for our own emotional experience, and activities such as journaling, meditation, and mindfulness are typically solitary experiences.
In truth, these more solitary activities are foundations for the bigger work that comes down the road for us. As we start to heal our little wounds, we gain confidence in the process and the capacity to approach some of our deeper hurts. (I like to use the onion analogy: We start by handling all the surface layers, and as we make our way through each layer, we get closer and closer to the central issues of our lives.)
Eventually, we start to see outward evidence of our healing. Maybe we begin to engage with our friends more frequently, or perhaps we start looking for a new job. Inevitably, someone who knows us is encouraged by the progress we are making and offers a helping hand. “Hey, I know someone who is hiring; want me to make a recommendation?”
For the emotionally healthy, the default response here would probably be, “yes, please.”
But those of us in a storm might kindly refuse.
I’ve crossed paths with this specific scenario multiple times, both in my work and my personal life. Those who refuse the help will typically explain the decision with something like, “I want to know I did it on my own.”
I think this is, at least partially, a cultural response: Here in the United States, we worship at the altars of Ayn Rand and the proverbial bootstraps. We adore the self-made success story, holding them up as examples of what a little hard work and determination can achieve.
We rely on societal structures to help protect us, guide us, and meet our fundamental needs.
But no one succeeds in a vacuum. We are all inter-reliant upon each other. To deny this core truth is to deny our essential humanity.
I’ve spent the majority of the last two years living on a boat. Life on a sailboat has required me to think about what I actually need to be happy in life.
I discovered that having less stuff, fewer obligations, and more time makes room for the most important things. I have more space in my life for people I love, things I appreciate, and opportunities I want to take.
And while living on a boat has lots of benefits, it definitely isn’t for everyone. But no matter where you live or what you do, you can take steps to simplify your life.
Here’s why simplifying your life is important — everything in your life takes up space. Whether it’s mental space, physical space, or calendar space, you only have so much room.
Everything you own, everything you do, and everyone you spend time with costs you something. And when you have an abundance of stuff, it costs you a lot.
Simplifying your life will give you more time, space, and energy. The more space you have, the freer you’ll be to truly enjoy everything. Here are five ways to simplify every area of your life.
1. Declutter your house.
Your environment affects how you feel physically and psychologically. Whether you waste time looking for misplaced items, or you grow overwhelmed every time you open your closet, having too much stuff wastes your resources.
A clean, organized space helps you feel more productive and energetic than when you’re living among heaps of clothes, stacks of papers, and piles of dishes.
When you have fewer items to worry about, you’ll feel lighter. You’ll also have energy to care for the items that you keep. Start decluttering one room at a time, and see for yourself how much better you feel when you get rid of things you don’t need.
One night, this is what I did. I drove home from a dinner. I was on a back road which had a sharp turn around a huge cliff, surrounded by pine trees and in the center, a tall, wall of New England granite. It was just me in the car and that was my mistake. I hit the gas pedal. Gripped the steering wheel. Watched the speedometer tick up: 40, 60, 80. My headlights caught the yellow sign, warning drivers to slow for the curve. It got closer and closer. I unclipped my seat belt. I remember my arms tightening, my legs preparing for impact. Then, for reasons that escape me, I eased up on the accelerator, turned away from the wall of rocks, swerved through the curve, and stayed alive.
Maybe I told myself that I would fail at this and end up paralyzed instead of dead. Maybe I thought about my dogs and how no one would let them out for hours. Maybe I stopped because I feared that reincarnation was real and I’d have to wear Danskin outfits, watch the TV show Manimal, and listen to John Ashcroft belt out Let the Eagle Soar all over again. Whatever came over me, I made it home. Let my dogs out, and slept with them in a weeping heap on my bed.
Soon after that night, I checked myself into a hospital and stayed there until a course of Electroconvulsive Therapy had its intended effect. It bought me the time I needed to find the right medication, which saved my life. It took 14 pills to get there, but I did and I went on to become a speechwriter in politics and a writer for TV shows. I was a witness in a federal criminal trial, supported our national responses to disasters in Haiti and the Gulf Coast, and helped the new young leaders of the March For Our Lives.
Depression hits people in unique and brutal ways. Some can’t leave their beds, let alone their homes. Some get angry. Some use alcohol and drugs to suppress crushing or suicidal feelings. And others, like me, can function at a high rate. I have learned to cover it up when I am in public. I can smile, write, or talk about policy, and you’d never know that I’m also thinking about dying.
For those blessed enough to never experience their brains misfiring this way, it is often impossible to understand why millions of people like me don’t get help sooner and more often. It seems like it should be easy to call 9-1-1, get to an emergency room, try different medications, and see a therapist. But understand that if “hope is the thing with feathers,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, then depression is the thing with daggers. Every attempt to escape it hurts.
There’s the cutting sense of shame of acknowledging that I didn’t break the cycle in my family’s history. On both my father’s side and mother’s side, there have been questionable overdoses, there has been a suicide with a shotgun, and other relatives who struggled with scary thoughts. Between what I inherited from them, the nurturing I lost to their multiple divorces, physical abuse, and mistakes I made on my own, I consider myself lucky that I can get by with occasional bouts of serious depression, and nothing more. But I often keep quiet about that history because it feels easier to just ride it out.
When there’s a high-profile suicide in the news, I stay busy. It’s true that suicides hit me differently than other untimely deaths. I don’t get angry or emotional. I get quiet because I know what it’s like at that fateful moment. Think of your greatest moment of despair, then multiply that by a thousand, and you’re still not quite there. There’s a lot of shame and sorrow, too. Sorrow about my one failed attempt and the three other times I contemplated trying again. Shame that I lived, while others did not.
The recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, or Jeff Loeffelholz, the Broadway actor from the musical Chicago and Ellie Soutter, the 18-year-old British snowboarding star, have made for a rough few weeks.
Most people sharing their experiences talk about them in the past tense. I’m in it—not suicidal, but in it. I have told no one until now. Shared this with no one close to me because part of it is situational. I feel bad because my life isn’t a bucket of chuckles. During the day, I am a caretaker for my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. I give her medicine in the morning, help with meals, do laundry, keep the house clean, and I thank God for the three hours a week when a wonderful woman comes by to help her take a shower.
As I try to piece together the story of how she got to this place where her brain is shrinking and failing—from a long line of Dr. Feel-Goods, who over prescribed her opioids and benzodiazepines, to her lost financial fortune, to the more ordinary stresses of her life—I know that I cannot afford assisted living or in-home care. I am doing fine, but not another $10,000-a-month fine. There will be no relief from her disease, or from this final role as her daughter.
While I know that millions and millions of Americans are in similar caretaking positions, it still doesn’t ease the loneliness and despair I feel every single day. Most weeks, I dream about running away. But I know that I can’t, and I understand why there is a thing called “caregiver syndrome,” and why those who have it often die before the chronically ill people they care for do.
I don’t know why it becomes paralyzing to reach out and ask for help when the brutal, relentlessness of life becomes too much. Sometimes it feels like another chore to do and I convince myself that I’d be burdening the burdened, who probably don’t know how to respond anyhow. But I do know that words like “cheer up,” “look at the blue sky,” “you have so much to be proud of,” “do some charitable work,” “you are loved,” do little for me.
Yes, I know about 800-273-8255, and the great people on the other end of the lifeline number. Call them if you need them. They are lovely and will help you. Just know that people like me are doing our best and are determined to survive. Maybe just say that to someone who’s in the battle, “Stay. Keep fighting.” What I tell myself is this, “You don’t want a permanent solution to a cyclical problem. It too shall pass.”
I have been able to find treatments that help me, but the fact that so many of us have loved ones who suffer from depression, and so few of us know how to help them, is a sign of a more systemic problem.
In the days since the Bourdain and Spade deaths, more than 6,200 people have died by suicide. While the news that week opened up a more searching and honest dialogue about depression and suicide —about our brains—the frenzy has subsided and the structural signs that our country thinks very little of struggling people have reasserted themselves.
Last year, our leaders proposed cutting mental-health spending by more than $400 million a year. They reduced care for addiction and counseling in the middle of a growing opioid and drug crisis. They are trying to make it harder for people to enroll in Medicaid. Look at the best hospital in your city and then compare it to the nearest psychiatric hospital? Would you want to go there? Then why would I? Often, when I reach out to a doctor, I’m told the wait will be three months or longer. Look at who is in our prisons. They have become the largest institutions in our country for those struggling with brain disorders. If we cared deeply about treating these illnesses, then we wouldn’t step over the homeless or rip children from their parents’ arms on purpose. Our society is telling us: “What you have, what you are going through is shameful. Second rate. Doesn’t matter. Keep quiet.”
The latest CDC numbers on suicide tragically show that 45,000 people in 2016 couldn’t ask for help either. Most died without ever speaking up about a previous problem. It’s 2018. We know about neurotransmitters now, and the life-long consequences of trauma, and can invest in the science of the brain to figure out why mine and many others don’t always fire right.
“Psychology and the Good Life” attracted nearly one out of four Yale undergraduates. Now you can enroll.
When Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos launched “Psychology and the Good Life” on the New Haven campus earlier this year, 1,200 students—about one-fourth university’s undergraduate population—enrolled. And now Santos is taking the course to an even wider audience as it’s set to launch online this month.
Rebranded as “The Science of Well-Being” on the platform Coursera, the class will feature lectures by Santos on things people think will make them happy but don’t along with things that actually bring lasting life satisfaction. In other words, she’ll teach students how to be happy.
“Laurie is a rock-star professor,” says Belinda Platt, assistant director of digital education at Yale’s Center for Teaching and Learning. “She came to us with this idea and said, ‘I’m proposing this course that I want to teach on campus, and I’m doing a pilot run with a small group of 20 to 30 students in my residential college. Why don’t you come film it and then we can use that material for an online course?'”