Sleep: Do it Better to Feel Better

Sleep: Do It Better

Sleep: Do It Better

You know better than to stay up so late. You hear all the time how much you need to get your rest. Your body needs to recharge. Your mind needs to rejuvenate. Your attitude needs to adjust. Sleep is the key to all of that. Sleep matters.

It’s just that there’s so much to do. What does it hurt to shave off a few hours of rest?

Why is sleep such a big deal?

Why not put down your third cup of coffee and consider the benefits of a healthy bedtime routine:

Mental and physical health are reliant on proper rest.

  • The average adult is best served by 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly.

    Clarity, heightened concentration, and elevated mood are directly linked to sleep.

    Lack of sleep can contribute to irritability and aggression.

    Sleep deprivation creates cravings for fat-inducing, sugary, carb-rich foods.

    Insufficient amounts of sleep and rest lead to a compromised immune system.

    Research indicates that sleep affects how well we learn information and retain it.

    Lack of adequate sleep affects motivation, appropriate judgment and perception.

    Deep, consolidated sleep over the course of each night secures the best mental and physical health situation.

    Attempts to “make up” lost sleep are also rarely successful. You might feel a bit better on the weekends by making up the “sleep debt” incurred during the week; however, oversleeping usually leaves you feeling less alert and more groggy and lethargic.

Moving Past Suicide of a Loved One

By Cathy Neville, LPC, NCC, on March 16, 2016

Handling The Loss Of A Loved One By Suicide

Moving Past The Suicide of a Loved One

Our feelings of abandonment and grief are hard to bear. No one could possibly know the pain you are feeling.  Someone you trusted to be there is gone, leaving so much unresolved and unsettled. Moving past the trauma of suicide to mourning your loved one becomes a complicated mix of feelings, regrets, and a different kind of sorrow. How can you cope without being overwhelmed by sadness, shock, anger, or betrayal? Will you carry your unreconciled relationship with you forever?

The tragedy of suicide certainly complicates your grief and loss. Emotional acknowledgement is very important.

Observe and recognize these emotions that often accompany loved ones grieving a loss by suicide:

  • Shock. “Why?” may be your prevailing thought for a while.
  • Isolation. You may feel like no one “gets” your grief.  You find people avoiding you (they probably don’t know what to say).
  • Guilt. You wonder if you could have saved him or her if you had done something differently.
  • Anger/Blame. You may feel therapy or medication should have prevented this.
  • Abandonment. You may feel left behind.  “How could he leave me?”
  • Anxiety. You worry that others blame you for not doing more.
  • Relief. You may feel released from your loved one’s mental health issues or addictions.
  • Depression. You experience hopelessness and unrelenting sadness.

All of these feelings are normal responses when we lose someone to suicide.

The tragedy of suicide can give you the sense that you are totally alone.

  • Though it’s difficult, don’t isolate. Try to maintain your connections and relationships.
  • Do your best to be with family and friends. If you are able to talk about the suicide, share your overwhelm and distress, and simply ask for their support.
  • Consider a survivor’s support group. Sometimes it’s more helpful to connect with people unrelated to your everyday life.
  • Individual therapy may also be a good place to deal with difficult emotions or “stuck” responses that inhibit healthy coping mechanisms.

Trying to recover from your loved one’s suicide the “right” way is wasted energy and lends itself to unnecessary self-judgment.

You needn’t rush the process. Grieve this your own way.

Getting “back to normal” is not the goal. Healing is the objective.

The grief process may take longer or look different than people think it should.

Visit the grave or memorial site only when you’re ready.

Discuss your loved one’s life and struggles only when you feel you can.

Go slow and heal completely.

Be good to yourself. Suicide is traumatic.

Suicide is traumatic.

It’s easy to neglect your mind and body, which just exacerbates strain and emotional distress. Take time to meet your own needs.

Exercise and a healthy diet foster healing of the mind and body.

Endorphins alleviate depression, improve sleep cycles, and relieve stress.

Try not to overeat or miss many meals.

It may be tempting to distract yourself from the pain of your loss with food, alcohol, nicotine, or prescription drugs. Please don’t.

Find healthier ways to feel better.

Find a healthy way to say good-bye.

If your relationship was contentious or difficult, a journal or letter can help you let go of the blame, anger and abandonment caused by your loved one’s choice. It can also help you release longstanding issues you never had an opportunity to address.

Consider volunteering for suicide prevention groups, or dedicating a scholarship or research fund.

It may also comfort you to research suicide and mental illnesses for a deeper understanding of your loved one’s choice.

As you work through your grief, set time aside to be with your feelings of loss.  Many people think if they stay busy and distracted, they will avoid feeling the pain of their loss.  The truth is just the opposite.  This type of avoidance will prolong the grieving process and oftentimes lead to complicated grief and depression.

Call a grief counselor.

If you have lost someone you love by suicide, you may want to consider seeking the help of a counselor.  Grief and loss counselors have training and experience in helping people who have suffered loss find the strength and the coping skills they need to move through their trauma and grief to a path of healing.  If you need grief counseling and live in San Antonio or its surrounding area, call me.


From Courtship to Criticism Back to Courtship — How?

Criticism to Courtship

By Cathy Neville, LPC, NCC on February 25, 2016

Courtship to Criticism

There’s a new cable television show on Tuesday nights.

It’s called Fit to Fat to Fit.

Essentially, the premise every week is this:

A fitness trainer who is quick to heap criticism and lacks a measure of empathy for his or her overweight clients agrees to spend four to six months ruining his or her own taut physique with fatty, unhealthy food and a sedentary lifestyle. When he or she becomes sufficiently fat, the trainer then meets up with a heavy client who has struggled to lose weight.

Together, bonded by their desire to be fit and toned, they get to work.

Soon, their bodies are restored, goals are met, and lessons about compassion and appreciation for health are learned.

Isn’t it that way with some of our most intimate relationships?

We start out courting each other, in love, and promising each other devotion and loyalty. Relatively fit.

But along the way, things change. Irritation, unresolved issues, and resentment set in. The shape of our love is changed and the shape and comfort level of our connection is compromised.

Criticism and disdain clog communication like fatty food around the hearts of that trainer and his client. The heart of our relationships start to struggle and strain. We have to work our way back to the respect, admiration, and encouragement of our early relationship to save our love. Back to relational fitness. And it’s worth the work out.

Criticism Back to Courtship

So what does that look like?

How do you shed the weight of criticism that drags your relationship down?

Well, let’s start at the beginning…that period of courtship that bonded you together in the first place.

What did you use to have? How did you and your partner pursue each other in the early days of your relationship? Was it a period of discovery? Weren’t you intrigued by each other, craving tidbits of information during long conversations that would confirm that he or she was “the one”?

Clearly, you got your answer. You talked, shared your dreams, made plans, and took the leap together. And for a while, your relationship was bliss. And then it was routine. And then there were problems.

All of that is natural.

Except that slowly your ability to solve your problems seems complicated by criticism. What happened?

Did you start to pick at each other over little things like messy bathroom sinks or forgotten dry cleaning? Were you exasperated by his/her parenting styles or lack of marital attention? How did criticizing and complaining about each other work its way into your communication and, worse, into the way you communicate about each other to others?

Criticism takes a heavy toll on love. It erodes trust and security.

It undermines that core idea in any intimate, committed relationship that says, “We’re in this together and you’re safe with me.”

It’s a heavy, hurtful, unhealthy place to be in your relationship.

And it’s time to move on. It’s time to get fit with a return to courtship.

It worked before and it will work again. Here’s how:

  • Courtship assumes nothing. Approach your partner with curiosity. Criticism got in the way because it assumes too much. You are critical of each other because you think you know how the other person should operate. You’ve forgotten to look and listen to the how’s and why’s of who your partner is. You’ve forgotten to simply observe mindfully and allow the moment, feelings, and concerns of your partner to exist without your action or pressure to do anything.
  • Courtship inspires selflessness. Once upon a time you were willing to edit a few of your wants and needs to accommodate your partner. Resist the critical attitude that focuses on how much attention your partner is not paying you. Practice routine “courtship consideration.” Trade a few demands and expectations for more caring, interest, and concern.
  • Courtship embraces unconditional acceptance. Criticism at the start of a relationship is generally frowned upon…for good reason. It does not endear you to a person and will likely just lead to distrust, anxiety, shame, or resentment. Growing intimacy and trust is the name of the game when you court a partner. Don’t let your familiarity with each other rob you of the chance to keep getting to know each other. Repeatedly offer your unconditional acceptance.

Reclaim the healthier love and positivity of courtship.

Trim the criticism from your relationship and feed yourselves compassion. Nurture your love with loving feedback. Meet with a couples counselor if you need help.

Revisit the loving practices and communication that brought you together in the beginning and let courtship work its magic once again.