Breathing Exercise

Ariana Grande’s popular song "breathin’" is an anthem to anxiety that speaks to a simple solution with a multitude of benefits. “Don’t know what else to try, but you tell me every time, just keep breathin’ and breathin’” chants the pop superstar. Unfortunately, most of us weren’t taught the simple techniques and range of positive outcomes that come with—well—simply breathing. It happens to all of us. Feelings like anxiety, stress, and fear cause our breathing to be shallow, irregular, or rapid. It’s entirely normal. Our body’s automatic response is to protect itself. The trick is to focus not on what’s happening around us, but to what is happening within us. We are breathing. It’s our most basic instinct. Practicing steady, deep breathing delivers more oxygen to the body and brain, reduces your heart rate and decreases the release of cortisol—better known as the stress hormone. Deep breathing also releases endorphins. This in turn increases a sense of calm and can combat pain. Other known benefits of deep breathing include: Lower blood pressure –Relaxation opens the blood vessels and improves circulation More energy—From increased oxygen to the circulatory system Less headache pain - Due to reduced tension locked in the shoulders and neck (you’ll rest better, too!) Practice Makes Perfect Getting back to steadier breaths is within reach. All it takes [...]

2022-04-29T14:55:06-04:00May 1st, 2022|Anxiety, Mental Health, Self-Help, Stress|

How to Achieve Healthy Sleep

Humans spend a lot of time asleep -- about a third of our lives, in fact. It should come as no surprise, then, that developing and maintaining good sleep habits is a key factor in maintaining good physical and mental health. Unfortunately, data show Americans don’t have the greatest relationship with sleep. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control found at least 28.5 percent of American adults sleep less than seven hours a night, while 68.8 percent of teens reported getting less than 8 hours of sleep each night even though it’s recommended that teens sleep more than adults. Sleep deprivation can make it harder to learn, focus, and react. According to the National Institute of Health, you may have trouble “making decisions, solving problems, remembering things, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change.” So how can we develop better habits around sleep? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the term “sleep hygiene” refers to “healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.” Here are some of the top tips for developing and maintaining good sleep hygiene from NAMI, the CDC, and AASM: Consistency – It’s important to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning. This helps your body [...]

2021-11-19T09:02:28-05:00November 19th, 2021|Self-Help|

Stress and College

Clenched teeth, locked jaw, tension shooting up my shoulders and neck, feeling heavy as if my legs were glued to the floor, tightness in my low back set in, and finally a pounding headache crashed into my frontal lobes. Stress! My name is Liam, and I’m a junior in the Public Health program at Temple University. Lately I’ve been dwelling on stress (literally).  Last semester was full of surprises. I was already late to register for my summer classes, scrambling to find a course before the deadline, all while in the process of moving, losing family to gun violence, not to mention dealing with burnout and vicarious trauma from work. At the top of this long list: social isolation due to the COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations. Tired, worrying I wouldn't get a course in time, I stumbled across one of the remaining courses available: ‘Stress Management’. I assumed it would be about deep breathing, and healthy social networks, which are both important, but instead the course focused more on the mind-body connection and interactivity. This course taught me a lot about myself. As a master procrastinator, I do everything at the very last minute. This is accompanied with awfulizing (constantly worrying about the “what if’s” in life), not to mention the chronic back pain. Stress become that “friend” who always [...]

2021-11-10T20:47:35-05:00November 10th, 2021|Lived Experience, Self-Help, Stress|

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms & Support

Daylight Savings Time has come and gone while providing a reminder that our days are going to continue getting shorter and colder. Winter brings holidays, a certain chill in the air, decorations, time with family, and more time spent indoors. For some, the winter can bring feelings of sadness, low energy, increased isolation, and changes to otherwise stable routines. These feelings or changes could possibly indicate a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As the seasons change, things like time, weather, and even light play a factor in our behavioral health. SAD is more complex than just “the winter blues”. Many experience challenges completing their daily routine, mood changes, and other symptoms similar to depression. If left unchecked, symptoms can escalate risking more severe symptoms. Differentiating between SAD and normal responses to life changes is crucial.  Self-awareness is beneficial in recognizing atypical functioning.  According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), here are a few symptoms associated with SAD: Feeling sad or having a depressed mood Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must [...]

2021-11-11T11:11:47-05:00November 5th, 2021|Self-Help|
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