Month: January 2022

The Power of Guided Meditation


NEGATIVE EVENTS CARRY MORE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

The sad fact is that negative events in a person’s life carry far more emotional weight than the positive. And those negative events – even seemingly small ones – carry a much greater ability to damage a person, than larger positive events do to heal them.

Negative pivot points are almost always at the root of struggle. I can say with assurance that all of the patients I’ve treated who are in the midst of struggle have pivot points that are related to the six categories of struggle: anger, fear, addiction, shame, excessive desire for status or money, and toxic need for love and/or acceptance. And I can also say that I have struggled with many of these sources of pain myself. We all have. Hence, the Get A Grip books I have written on each of these subjects

Finding and confronting your pivot points can lead to a breakthrough to a higher power; that place where you no longer feel uncomfortable with yourself but don’t really know why. But how is it that you clearly define your pivot points? And what do you do with your pivot points – the good and the bad ones – when you discover what they are?

GUIDED MEDITATION

I have had patients who have largely left their struggles behind after a single session of guided meditation that allowed them to experience the pivot point again. Why is this? Because the mind is more powerful than reality.

A person who can successfully reframe a negative event from their childhood – understanding why it happened and how they can now change it from their adult perspective – can provide an understanding of events that take the power out of the pivot point.

Exploring pivot points from the perspective of age allows one to understand so much more than could be understood as a tender child. There is a CD, or downloadable audio file, on my website called the Wise Old Being Meditation which can help you with this.

The fact of the matter is, that when we experience a negative incident, the emotions behind the negative event are far stronger – betrayal, abandonment, fear, resentment, disappointment, grudges – than a positive event. There’s so much more energy behind a negative pivot point, that it becomes a powerful negative charge of emotion…that’s life. It takes more mental energy to beat a negative emotion than to bring a positive one into our heart. The rule here: love always wins.

#LLLD


Derek O’Neill, fondly referred to as the Celtic Sage, inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life, offering guidance to influential world leaders, businesses, celebrities, athletes and everyday people alike. Distilled from his life work in psychotherapy, a martial arts career and study with wise yogis and Indian and Tibetan masters, Derek translates ancient wisdom into modern day teachings to address the biggest challenges facing humanity today. For additional insights listen to his free radio archives explore over 20 personal development books including Stop The Struggle, Bullying, Love/Divorce, Grief, Mindfulness, Anxiety, Stress and Depression.

Image courtesy of cottonbro.

The Power of Sleep on Mental Health and Happiness


Do you know the saying “the morning is wiser than the evening”? This expression, originating from the Russian fairytale Vasilisa the Beautiful, is used to caution someone to better sleep with the initial reaction and wait for a response. In a lot of ways, it has to do with the power of sleep on mental health, because it’s more than getting rest after a tiring day.

The relationship between quality of sleep and mental well-being is complex, but one that you can improve with some practice and proper care of yourself. We are going to explore this, as well as other ways sleep affects our mind, emotions, and psychological health.

What is sleep?

Sleep is a natural condition in the body and mind when certain systems slow their activities, regenerate, eliminate toxins, and repair. Adult humans need 7–9 hours of sleep according to the scientific community, although a small percentage of people need only 6. The reason why we sleep is subjected to several theories, where all offer valid explanations and each is true to some extent.

Sleep is made of cycles and each one has four stages — three non-rapid eye movements or NREM and one rapid eye movement or REM stage. During one night, you can have many cycles that can last from 90 to 120 minutes. The REM stage is when our brain processes memories and emotions, helping us feel rested and in good mental shape.

The difficult relationship between stress and sleep

High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can lead to insomnia and difficulty falling asleep. In turn, you will sleep less and poorly, so you will feel even more stressed when you wake up than you did before going to bed.

To understand why cortisol is the enemy of sleep, you need to know more about its adversary — melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released at night, responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. When melatonin is low and cortisol high we feel awake and our sleep patterns are affected.

But still, sleep is a great stress reducer. Trying to have quality shuteye when stressed out and managing stress when underslept sounds horrendous. However, if you keep your stress under control with talk therapy, physical activity, or other means, you can achieve a healthy balance between cortisol and melatonin.

Alexandra Gorn

Sleep and depression

According to a 2011 study review, the researchers found that people who have insomnia but not depression, have higher chances of developing this mental condition in time. While sleep disorders, like insomnia, can be signs of depression, these findings showed that it may be the other way around as well. However, insomnia shouldn’t be left untreated since it can cause other physiological issues and negatively affect cognitive abilities.

Using cognitive–behavioral therapy to treat insomnia can reduce depression and enhance overall well-being. Feeling rested, energized, and clear headed after the recommended amount of sleep can give you the strength to address your depression and improve your mental health.

Other mental health issues and sleep

Anxiety is characterized by feelings of worry and fear that turn into a state when you’re constantly overthinking and feel overstimulated. While it can cause sleep issues, it can also be heightened by the inability to fall asleep and insomnia. Bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADHD, and other mental health conditions are also followed by sleep deprivation.

Identifying the mental issue can make a huge difference to recovery and having normal sleep patterns. Medication, therapy, healthy habits, and hobbies can help a person to take control of their mental health and lead a normal life.

Sleep can make you happy

We mentioned the connection between depression and sleep or lack of it. So, it’s only fitting to talk about how sleep and happiness go hand in hand. Mental health is a taboo topic in many societies and a lot of people are afraid to get the right help. This is changing by the day, however, thanks to social media and Gen Z being open about their feelings and struggles online.

Working on accepting your body, diversity, and differences, you will be more at peace with your inner self. You will find a way to love yourself and others for who they are, look for composed and respectful solutions at work and in private life. All this is not possible if you sleep for a few hours and wake up tired, annoyed, and angry for not having more time to stay in bed. Loving yourself means taking good care of your health, and having quality sleep falls under that category.

Dominic Sansotta

When hormones go crazy

There are lots of reasons for hormones in your body to stop functioning properly, one of them being lack of sleep. Poor sleep leads to a chemical imbalance in the brain, affecting our mood and leading to emotional instability. When we don’t get enough sleep, our endocrine system, which regulates hormones, “malfunctions” and upsets the hormonal balance.

For example, the body needs serotonin to create melatonin, a sleep hormone. If we don’t sleep well, we get more stressed out and our cortisol levels suppress serotonin, a happiness hormone, making us anxious and depressed. Simply put, the better you sleep the happier you will feel.

Tuning your circadian rhythm

Circadian rhythm is a biological process better explained with analogy to a clock. To show the right time, you need to wind it regularly and respect the schedule it represents. You should wake up in the morning and go to sleep in the evening because our circadian rhythm depends on the light and dark cycle of days.

Mental issues can be one of the things disrupting your circadian rhythm and having you stay awake at night and sleep through the day. It can also lead to insomnia, depression, loss of motivation, and lack of enthusiasm. You can fix this by adopting daily routines that will help you get back into the normal circadian rhythm, like waking up and going to bed at the same time.

Additionally, pull the drapes over your windows to prevent light from coming in and use a sleeping mask. Leave your phone out of the bedroom or as far away as possible from your bed, and instead read a book. Soothing sounds from a sleep machine may also help, but if you need silence, use earplugs and keep the windows closed to shut off traffic.

Ambient and quality of sleep

It’s not enough just to go to bed early and have recommended hours of sleep. You also need to make sure that your environment is comfortable and enables you to fall asleep easily. From silk pillowcase, soft linens, and appropriate mattresses to sound machines and dark rooms, these are all factors that can help you sleep better.

Furthermore, you need to calm yourself and try not to dwell on negative thoughts when you go to bed. Meditation, breathing techniques, and herbal medications can soothe you enough to fall asleep, but it’s not something that happens immediately and will require patience. As we mentioned, good night’s sleep and mental health are interconnected, so to improve the one you need to take care of the other, too.

Can you make up for lost sleep?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You can recover from the loss of sleep if you have more hours of shuteye the next day, but this won’t work if you do it all the time. For example, it will take four days to compensate for just one hour of lost sleep. But if sacrificing sleep turns into a habit, it can have serious consequences for your well-being.

Sleep deprivation can lead to many health conditions, like heart attack, diabetes, and stroke. Mentally, it can have a similarly dangerous effect, causing hallucinations, agitation, and even brain damage. Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease are also common in people with chronic sleep deprivation.

Damir Spanic

Things you can do to sleep better

Besides meditating, a soothing environment, and cognitive–behavioral therapy, you can do other things that will help you sleep. For example, start living more healthily by quitting bad habits, like smoking and drinking alcohol.

Nicotine creates a dependency that is considered similar to addiction experienced by heroin addicts. When you sleep for the required 7–9 hours, your body goes into withdrawal and starts craving a cigarette. In turn, you can develop insomnia, have nightmares, and often wake up at night to smoke.

Coffee and tea are other potential sleep disruptors if you have them later in the afternoon and the evening. Both beverages contain caffeine, a substance that blocks natural processes in the brain, making us tired and sleepy. The good news is that you don’t have to stop having coffee, but only have it in the morning and early afternoon, or switch to decaf varieties.

The bottom line

We need sleep like we need air, food, and water. The body and mind need time off from keeping us up and running. The power of sleep on mental health and happiness reflects in the responsibility we have to ourselves — in self-care, self-love, and willingness to change for the better.


Nina Simons is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on Twitter.

Featured image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

6 Little Habits I Swapped for a Happier, More Productive Life


Everyone talks about habits you should give up or things you should start doing. But the reality is most of us have a limited number of hours in a day and unhealthy addictions to things that aren’t great for us.

Instead of quitting cold turkey or trying to force yet another morning routine into my life, I’ve found it a lot easier to swap out habits.

I swapped six terrible habits for six better habits, and I can genuinely say these little changes have made me a more fulfilled and happier person.

1. Tumblr for Twitter

I have spent a lot of time browsing on Twitter. I deleted the app, but simply logged back into the browser on my phone. When I’m distracted or struggling, I find my fingers mindlessly opening up a new web browser and typing t. Autocomplete quickly takes me to my least favorite place on earth.

I realized this habit was making me miserable. I also realized I’d struggle to just quit. Instead of stopping altogether, I replaced one vice for a lesser vice. Tumblr is now my preferred timewaster of choice. I moved the Chrome app on my phone, which I was only ever really using for Twitter, and replaced it with the Tumblr app. My well-trained thumb takes me somewhere new, now.

Tumblr isn’t as addictive as Twitter, and it’s not as harmful, either. It doesn’t make me as angry or sad as Twitter does. It’s full of the most bizarre memes, and even the ads are comical rather than rage-inducing.

Maybe you don’t love memes as much as I do, but no matter what your poison is, there’s bound to be a slightly less damaging alternative. I recommend Tumblr as a doable swap.

2. Reading for Writing

It’s a weird thing for a professional writer to say, isn’t it? But it’s true. In the evenings, I used to enjoy typing out an article or client draft while sitting beside my partner on the couch. I love writing, so it never felt like work to me.

But you know what I found? I was getting riled up, my brain spinning a million miles an hour, thinking of what to write next. I’d sit in bed an hour after shutting down my laptop and be incapable of sleep.

It made me much happier (and more productive, since I was getting more sleep) when I swapped this habit for the much more relaxing reading habit. I’ve always been a huge fan of reading, and now I average 3–5 books per week. I stick to fiction (nonfiction gives me too many article ideas) and although sometimes I do stay up late to finish a chapter, I’m at least exercising my brain in a different direction.

I miss those late-night writing sessions, but I am in love with my book reading habit.

3. Painting for Scrolling

I’m a born millennial, which means that when my partner and I sit down to watch The Great British Bake Off, or when I binge You on my own, I normally have my phone in my hand at the same time. It’s tough for me to not scroll.

I know I should just drop the habit altogether, but instead, I replaced it with something else that would keep my hands busy: painting. Lately, I’ve also been getting into embroidery.

This helps me focus on and enjoy the content I’m watching while avoiding the dreaded doom-scroll, whether on Tumblr or Twitter. Plus, I get a nice painting or embroidery piece out of it. If you’re finding yourself picking up a phone even while watching a laptop or television screen, find something else to occupy your hands.

4. Community for Engagement

As someone who makes her living online, I live by numbers. The tally of views on the video I posted. The number of followers on my Instagram account. How many subscribers signed up for my newsletter.

This was making me miserable. First, I didn’t get into this job because I like numbers, but because I love helping people. Second, with numbers, you can always compare yourself and come up lacking, no matter what your career is.

Instead of counting numbers, I tried to use social media for what it was originally intended: connections. I do this by ignoring my follower counts and trying to build community in other ways, like replying to Instagram stories, connecting through Twitch streams, focusing on YouTube comments, creating my newsletter, and forming friendships with other writers. It helps me focus on the individuals behind the numbers.

5. Daily Runs for Weekly Runs

My mom came to visit me in my new home in Boston. While she was with me, I noticed she ran every single freakin’ day.

“Mom, why?” I said to her from the couch as she laced up her shoes to head out on one particularly damp, chilly evening after a tiring day of furniture moving.

“It removes the decision. I don’t have to worry about which three days I’ll do it. I just know I’ll do it. I’m not stressing about it because I know it’s on my list, just like brushing my teeth,” she said. And then she headed out into the frigid mist.

I started doing the same thing. And I found it was absolutely freeing to have to do something every day, with no decision to be made. I no longer dreaded runs, nor did I panic about whether I’d do it today (cold, wet) or wait until tomorrow (possibly better weather). I just did it.

This made me happier, not to mention healthier. If you want to build a habit, remove the burden of daily decision-making and simply commit to doing it every day. I love and look forward to my runs. I don’t always go very far, but every day, I do it.

6. Calls for Texts

I use to love texting. It was so convenient! It was so low-pressure! Perfect for teenage flirtations and staying casually in touch with friends.

But the older I got, the less convenient it became. I’d forget to reply. They’d forget to reply. I’d want to reply but be embarrassed because it’d been two weeks since I’d seen their text and it was too shameful to say “Whoops! Just seen this!” It was too hard to keep up with all the things going on in each other’s lives.

So I did something 17-year-old Zulie would never have dreamed of. I started picking up the phone and calling the people I cared about. I typically text only to coordinate phone calls. I call family members, friends, my partner, my grandma.

If you really want to build a connection, do away with relationship Splenda and go in for the real thing. Swap texts for calls and see how much happier you’ll find yourself.

Habit-Building is Never Easy

You either have to make space in your life for a new habit or find a way to fill the empty space of dropping an old one. I find swapping to be a much more manageable way to build a better life I love.

These six little swaps can be applied no matter who you are or where you are in life, as long as you’re paying attention to how you feel during harmful habits and you have a clear picture of what kind of future you want to build for yourself.


Zulie Rane is a reader and a writer who believes in the power to change the world through the written word. You can find her writing on ZulieRane.com, posting selfies and art on Instagram at @zulierane and tweeting bad puns on Twitter at @zulierane.

Image courtesy of Fallon Michael.

6 Tips for a Respectful and Loving Intervention with a Friend


Love sometimes means having difficult conversations. Perhaps none are more challenging than interventions.

However, you shouldn’t let someone you deeply care about continue down a dangerous path of addiction or eating disorders. I recently had an intervention with someone I loved dearly and learned a lot.

Here are six tips for a respectful and loving intervention with a friend.

1. Recognize the Signs That Intervention Is Necessary

One of the toughest steps to any intervention is recognizing when one is necessary. It might be trickier than ever right now, considering the extraordinary stress the pandemic caused. However, stepping in could be the kindest thing to do. Fully 13% of Americans reported turning to drugs and alcohol to deal with their emotions during this time, and overdoses spiked by 18%.

However, it isn’t always easy to tell when someone is struggling. Those who abuse substances often hide their use, either out of embarrassment or fear. Pay attention to the following signs and prepare to take action:

  • Secretive or aggressive behavior: Your formerly open roommate installs a lock on her bedroom door and screams at you if she discovers you in her room when she leaves the door open.
  • Borrowing or stealing money: Many people have legitimate reasons for asking for help these days, like job loss and lack of child care options. Pay attention to the explanation given and consider refusing if the person asking evades your question.
  • Work or school problems: These can have multiple causes, such as the enormous burden on health care professionals during this time. However, keep in mind such individuals also have access to medications most people can’t obtain. Listen to their explanations.
  • Deteriorating physical appearance: Excessive drug and alcohol use can prompt people to skip daily grooming.
  • Depression, tiredness and lack of energy: These symptoms could have a rational explanation, like putting in more hours or losing a home amid the pandemic. However, pay attention.
  • Physical health symptoms or eating disorders: Many people who abuse alcohol and drugs begin experiencing health woes. They may also start skipping meals to obtain a more rapid “high” when they use.

When my BFF started dropping pounds rapidly despite her already thin frame, I knew it was time to take action. I started making phone calls.

2. Rally the Troops

Once you identify that you need to stage a loving and respectful intervention, your next step is deciding who to include. In general, it’s respectful to involve any other close friends or family members who care about the person. Please put individual personality differences aside to help.

The one exception is those who knowingly encourage alcohol or drug use — which isn’t the same as enabling. Include folks who want the individual to stop using but who may provide shelter or food out of love.

3. Talk to the Experts

Emotions run high during interventions. Even if you and your friends and family all want what’s best, you can be blinded by your affection and say or do things that jeopardize them seeking treatment.

If possible, invite a licensed neutral third-party therapist or counselor to attend. They can keep the conversation on track, calm flaring tempers and even impose a time-out if things get too heated. If you don’t know who to call, talk to friends or even your insurance company for a referral and interview them first to assess their ability to perform the intervention.

4. Make a Plan of Action

What do you hope to happen from your intervention? Many families want the individual to enter intensive in-patient treatment. However, you may not have access to such a solution if you have limited resources.

Some jurisdictions have state-funded facilities, but the application and screening process weeds out many potential patients. Get preliminary approval before staging your intervention if you choose this route.

Other options include sliding-scale facilities that let you pay based on your income. You may also qualify for grants and scholarships for treatment help. You may have few options other than to borrow from friends and family or start a GoFundMe. Ensure you raise the required funds first if you choose the latter.

The person I love, fortunately, has health insurance now but didn’t always. I think that was the deciding factor that got her to enter into treatment for her eating disorder. It’s tragic in a country as wealthy as ours, but not everyone has the means to seek the care they desperately need.

5. Rehearse

The intensity of an intervention flares emotions and can lead to you saying things that aren’t helpful in the heat of the moment. Rehearsing what you plan to stay helps you stay respectful, supportive and loving.

Practice using “I” statements when letting the person know how you feel. Instead of saying, “your binge drinking ruins family gatherings,” you could say, “I’m worried about the way your alcohol use impacts your behavior around certain family members.” Remember, blaming and judging will only put the other person on the defensive, not encourage them to seek treatment.

6. Be Supportive

An intervention is only the first step in the recovery process. It’s a lengthy road, and your friend will need your help during each step.

Therefore, study how to be a good member of their support team throughout this journey. Practice active listening skills for when they need to talk. Let them know your availability for tearful 3 a.m. phone calls.

Consider your boundaries during this time, too, and decide what you will and will not accept. For example, you might understand the occasional relapse but draw the line at stealing your money or living with you rent-free if they return to their old habits after treatment.

I continue to support my BFF. I know not to suggest things that might trigger her, like going out for fast food, for example. I ask for her input on meals when hosting parties and let her contribute so that she always has something she feels safe eating.

Stage a Respectful and Loving Intervention With a Friend

Staging an intervention is a challenging process. Use these tips to remain respectful and loving while organizing the help your friend needs.



Mia Barnes is a health and wellness journalist with a focus on mental health and chronic pain issues. She is the Editor in Chief at Body+Mind.

Image courtesy of Liza Summer.