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How To Manage Stress

How To Manage Stress

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With the cost of living rising rapidly by the day, the currency devaluing, and the country falling into economic decline, it is no surprise that STRESS LEVELS ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH. I just grew 10 additional grey hairs typing this sentence.

So many of these factors are mostly out of your control. But there are many actions you can take to relieve your stress and approach difficult situations differently.

Be active 

Running on the treadmill won’t make your stress completely disappear. But staying active with daily exercise can relieve some of the emotional intensity you’re feeling. This helps clear your mind and lets you face issues more calmly. Exercise is shown to release endorphins – natural chemicals in your body that help you feel better and more positive.

exercise

 

Eat and drink healthily

Alcohol and binge-eating doesn’t make your stress vanish. They can help in the moment but can actually add to your stress in the long run. You’ve heard it before but you’ll hear it again. Consuming a healthy, balanced diet can alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling.

 

Identify stress triggers for yourself

Sometimes, the causes of stress are within your control. Maybe you are not able to manage your time well between work and family or maybe you have an upcoming deadline. You can improve your time management skills by asking for help either from your loved ones or a licensed professional, setting priorities and pacing yourself.

causes of stress
stress management

 

Connect with your loved ones

Having a supportive community of family, friends and colleagues can help ease your troubles and even get you to think about a problem in a different way. Having a laugh, doing a fun activity, gossiping over a meal are all excellent stress relievers!

 

Say ‘’No’’

With that being said, it’s okay to say ‘’No.’’ Sometimes saying ‘’yes’’ to everything that is demanded of you can burn out your time and energy. Setting those boundaries for yourself to re-energize and refresh can alleviate the hectic nature of your life.

say no
realistic expectations

 

Set realistic expectations

Maybe you’re extremely ambitious and want to give your 100% to the 100 things you’re working on. But be mindful of setting realistic goals for yourself, in terms of what you can and can’t control.

 

Have some ‘me’ time

Taking a few hours or days a week to relax and do the things you enjoy can do wonders for your mental health. Read that book you’ve been putting off, listen to a new Spotify playlist or practice meditation.

self care

Try to be positive

We know. How can you be positive when the world is on fire around us. But look for the positive things in your life and the people and things you’re grateful for. Glass half-full instead of glass half-empty..

Maybe you’ve tried all the above and you’re still highly strung out. Talking to a licensed mental health professional can help you manage your stress better. You can speak to one on oDoc today! Download the app now.

Sources:

  • Stress: 10 Ways to Ease Sress, 2020, Cleveland Clinic
  • 10 Stress Busters, 2018, NHS
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Insomnia – Everything You Need To Know

Insomnia - Everything You Need To Know

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female with insomnia struggling to sleep at night

People with Insomnia find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or even go back to sleep if woken up. Insomnia may cause someone to feel tired when woken up, drain their energy level, resulting in a low performance at work, mood swings and even some adverse health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and weight gain.

The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. However, an average person needs at least six to nine hours of sleep. Quality sleep plays a vital role in overall well-being. Not getting sufficient sleep regularly can significantly impact physical and mental health along with the quality of life. 

What are some insomnia symptoms?

Insomnia is defined as: 

  • Difficulty in falling asleep at night
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Waking up too early

As a result, here are a few other symptoms related to the lack of sleep:

  • Feeling drained out/tired
  • Difficulty in focusing or paying attention 
  • Increase in carelessness
  • Feeling tired and lethargic during the day
  • Feeling anxious or depressed 

Insomnia can be both short-term and long-term. Short term insomnia tends to last for a few days or weeks and is often triggered by stress. Whereas long-term or chronic insomnia is when sleep difficulties occur at least three times a week for three months or longer.

What causes insomnia?

Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other health conditions. However, several things may contribute to insomnia, including environmental, physiological, and psychological factors.

Causes for chronic insomnia include:

  • Stress: Concerns regarding jobs, education, finance, family and health can affect the mind’s activity at night, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Schedule: Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock running in the background to carry out essential functions and processes. One of the most essential and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle. When the sleep schedule is disrupted due to working/studying till late at night, travelling across multiple time zones, working a late or early shift, or frequently changing shifts, it makes it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Poor sleep habits: Eating, watching TV till late, using smartphones, playing video games before bed can interfere with the sleep cycle. Similarly, poor sleep habits include an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using the bed for work, eating or watching TV.

Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Mental health: Trauma, anxiety, depression could affect the sleeping patterns, leading to insomnia.
  • Medication: Many prescribed drugs can interfere with sleep, especially severe illnesses.
  • Illnesses: Insomnia is influenced by medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s and heart diseases. 

Additionally, excessively drinking caffeine may also cause irregular sleeping habits, while nicotine in tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. On the other hand, alcohol may help fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes awakening in the middle of the night.

What are the risk factors of insomnia?

Almost everyone has experienced a couple of sleepless nights. However, the risk of insomnia is more significant if someone falls into a specific demographic or experiences certain lifestyle factors:

 

  • Over the age of 60: Changes in sleep patterns and health.
  • Women: During the menstrual cycle and menopause, the hormonal shifts influence sleep patterns. Further, during menopause, night sweats and hot flashes often disrupt sleep. Insomnia is common during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters.
  • Mental or physical health condition. 
  • Constant stress
  • Irregular schedule

How can insomnia be prevented?

Good sleep habits will help improve sleep and prevent insomnia. 

  • Consistent bedtime and wake up time
  • Stay active (regular physical activities)
  • Create a bedtime routine that will help get in the mood to sleep (Taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.)
  • Avoid or minimise caffeine, alcohol, and prevent the use of nicotine.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, quiet and cool to make it comfortable.

Insomnia is not a nuisance or a small inconvenience but an actual sleep disorder that can significantly impact one’s physical, mental and emotional health. 

If you think you have insomnia, feel free to reach out to a healthcare professional via the oDoc app as soon as possible. They can assist you in exploring the possible causes and offer help with finding the best treatment for your needs.

References

  1. Insomnia, Cleveland clinic (2020)
  2. Insomnia, Mayo Clinic (2016)
  3. Everything you need to know about Insomnia, Healthline (2022)
  4. Circadian Rhythm, Sleep Foundation (2022)
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How Do You Deal With Grief & Loss?

How Do You Deal With Grief & Loss?

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Grief is an emotional response to loss. Any type of loss could cause grief; loss of a loved one, loss of a pet, loss of a job and financial stability, loss of a relationship, loss of a baby and more.

The pain of loss can sometimes be overwhelming and it can be hard to deal with such intense, overpowering, unexpected emotions. Your physical health can also be affected, making it difficult for you to eat, sleep or think straight. Your whole world can be changed with a loss. Nothing could look quite the same anymore – everything appears lacking, strange or unfamiliar. These are completely normal reactions to have.

how to deal with grief

You might be going through something similar and maybe you’re wondering how you can feel better soon? How can you get to the point where you are not in so much pain anymore?

There are healthy ways to cope with grief & loss that can ease your sadness over time and help you come to terms with what happened and move on with life. There is no ‘’normal’’ way of grieving. Everyone goes through it differently with some feeling better in a few weeks while others take years to fully heal.

Myths about grief & loss

You need to ‘stay strong’

You can feel your feelings. You can feel sad, scared and lonely. You can cry, get angry or stay quiet. None of these reactions are ‘’weak’’. You don’t need to put on a brave front.

Distracting yourself from the pain will make it go away faster

Ignoring the pain or trying to push it down so you don’t feel it will make you feel worse in the long run. While it is extremely hard to do, you need to face what has happened.

If you don’t cry, you didn’t really care about the loss

Crying is one reaction to grief & loss but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry can react to loss in different ways. This doesn’t mean they didn’t feel the pain as badly.

After a certain amount of time, you should be over it 

There’s no timeline to grieve. For some, grief will always remain but they are able to manage their grief better over time.

What are the different ways you can cope with grief & loss?

Talk to someone about it

Talking about the loss can be hard because that means you have to think about what has happened and come to terms with it. But sharing your feelings and thoughts with friends and family can be clarifying and cathartic.

Express your feelings in other ways

If you’re not able to talk about the loss, you can journal or write down your thoughts. Scrapbooking or volunteering for a cause can also help you let all your emotions out

Don’t be afraid to find moments of joy

Again, feel your feelings. It’s okay to laugh, be happy, have a good time and joke around if those emotions come naturally to you.

Look after your physical health

Having quality sleep, eating healthy and exercising regularly allows you to better cope with your grief emotionally.

Sometimes, it can be hard to grieve by yourself. How can you make sure you’re dealing with grief& loss in a healthy, non-destructive way? You can always reach out to a mental health professional, possibly one who specializes in grief counseling, who can help you work through your emotions and teach you coping mechanisms.

You can speak to a licensed mental health practitioner on oDoc. Download the app now.

Sources:

  • Coping With Grief & Loss, Help Guide, October 2021
  • How To Cope With Loss: Tips for Healthy Grieving, Everyday Health, October 2021
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New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

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New year, new you? Not really. That’s a tough ask. It’s the new year but how about focusing on realistic goals that could bring a better, healthier you?

Maybe you’ve thought about losing weight, having more salads and going to the gym more often. But most often than not, these goals are highly unsustainable and can put immense pressure on you and before you know it, you’ve broken all your resolutions by avurudhu.

It’s not that you’re completely incapable of sticking to your resolutions, it’s just that maybe you need to set more actionable, realistic and achievable goals.

Here are a few resolutions that you can actually keep.

new year resolutions

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Better you in 2022?

For most, resolutions come and go but the resolutions listed above are sustainable and long-lasting ways to improve your physical and emotional health. Try out a few this year!

  • Sources:
    Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating, Healthline, 2021
  • 5 Tips for Healthy Skin, Mayo Clinic, 2019
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What Is A Panic Attack?

What Is A Panic Attack?

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If you know, you know. Your heart pounding in your chest, your breaths are becoming shorter and shorter and the dizziness is setting in. You may have heard the terms ‘anxiety attacks’ and ‘panic attacks’ tossed around and used interchangeably as if they both mean the same thing. While they have some symptoms in common, they’re both very different conditions and are treated in different ways.

Panic attacks come on very suddenly and involve intense and overwhelming fear. Most often than not, they are accompanied by several mental and physical symptoms. Panic attack symptoms are often so extreme that they can cause severe disruption to your daily life.

An ‘anxiety attack’ is not a recognized term in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, anxiety is an emotional response hardwired into the body and usually builds gradually, in anticipation of a stressful situation, event or experience.

Panic attack symptoms

Mental

  • Feeling detached from oneself and the world
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying

Physical:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Tightness in the throat
panic attack

During a panic attack, your body responds as if you are in real danger even if there is no threat around you. You could be going for a walk, watching TV or cooking in the kitchen.

What is the difference between a panic attack and having anxiety?

 

 

Panic attacks often occur out of the blue and involve severe, disruptive symptoms. On the other hand, anxiety can be mild or severe and gradually build up over time. Symptoms of anxiety can be persistent and last days, weeks or even months.

Additionally, during a panic attack, the body’s fight-or-flight response takes over. These physical symptoms are often more intense than the physical symptoms of anxiety.

panic attack vs anxiety attack

How long does a panic attack last?

Panic attack symptoms usually occur for around 10 minutes and then subside. However, some attacks may last longer or may occur simultaneously, making it difficult to know when one attack ends and another begins. Following an attack, you may feel worried, out-of-sorts, or on edge for the rest of the day.

What can trigger a panic attack?

It is not exactly clear what causes a panic attack but the triggers differ from person to person. Potential triggers could include social events, public speaking, situations that remind you of stress and even bright lights or loud noises can trigger a person’s panic attacks. Certain people, places or events can trigger the attack as well. It is a good idea to watch out for your triggers

How do you stop a panic attack in the moment?

Since panic attacks hit you so quickly, it can be extremely scary and fearful. Here are a few things you can try to stop or manage the attacks.

  • Deep breathing –  You may have difficulty breathing in the moment, but trying to take deep, long breaths can reduce panic and fear. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth. Breathe in a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four
  • Recognize that you’re having a panic attack – Recognize that you’re not having a heart attack, remind yourself that this feeling is just temporary and that it will pass soon and you will be OK.
  • Close your eyes – If you’re in an environment that overwhelms you, close your eyes to block out any extra stimuli and focus on your breathing
  • Focus on other senses and sensations around you – During a panic attack, focus all your attention onto one thing. It could be your watch, the pockets on your jeans, the book on the table next to you, the A.C in the room. You can hold onto something soft like a pillow or run your hands along something textured like a blanket. Focus all your energy on this one object and take note of its size, shape, pattern, colour, and more.
  • Keep lavender on hand – Research suggests that lavender has a calming effect and can reduce symptoms of the panic attack
deep breathing

Read more about coping methods at 5 Hacks To Try When You Feel Anxious

Can you prevent a panic attack from happening?

It’s not always possible to prevent a future panic attack but you figure out what triggers your panic attacks and try to avoid or eliminate them from your life. Other tips that can help prevent your panic attack include:

  • Breathing exercises every day
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine excessively
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

Another preventative measure is to speak to a licensed mental health professional who can help you identify your triggers, develop ways to manage them, work through past pain and gain a clearer perspective for the future.

How can you support a person going through a panic attack?

If you suffer from panic attacks or are facing severe anxiety, speak to the mental health doctors on oDoc. Download oDoc today.

References:

  • How To Help Someone Having a Panic Attack, 2020, Healthline
  • Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack, 2020, VeryWell Mind
  • Grip on crippling anxiety attacks, 2017, Daily News
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