Tips for better sleep:
1. Reading an hour before bed can allow the mind to relax and decompress from daily stressors.
2. Do not have caffeine after 3pm since caffeine is a stimulant which can keep you awake or interrupt your sleep.
3. Reduce your screen time to at least 1.5 hours before you go to bed because staring at the screen can keep your mind racing and your eyes stimulated.
4. Wash your face, brush your teeth, and get comfortable in a good position in bed a half hour before you go to sleep.
5. Develop a consistent routine so your body knows what to expect each night.
6. Avoid large meals and alcohol later in the day. If your stomach is full, you will not be able to rest comfortably.
7. Exercise regularly but be sure to not do this at least 2-3 hours before you are ready to go to sleep.
8. Try to wake at the same time every day, even if you have off from work.
4 Tips for Coping with Depressive Episodes
1. Share your thoughts and feeling with a close friends or family member. Sharing your feelings in this safe space will enable a release of emotions and allow you to feel heard.
2. I find that changing your environment can help tremendously. Try going for a walk and engaging with nature. Being in nature has been known to boost the relaxation neurotransmitter called GABA.
3. Become more self-aware about providing your body with the proper nutrition and hydration it needs. If your body lacks certain nutrients, this could potentially be feeding your depressive feelings.
4. I believe that stimulating the vagus nerve can aid in reducing depressive symptoms. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and can be stimulated by engaging in a variety of activities, such as gargling, singing, laughing, and receiving a foot massage.
Abusive self-talk consists of talking poorly internally to yourself. For example, abusive self-talk may sound like, “I am not good enough to get any job,” or “I am useless,” or “I will end up alone.” This abusive self-talk can lead to an increase in anxiety, depression, and emotional self-harm. Someone may engage in abusive self-talk for a variety of different reasons but not limited to having a low self-esteem or low self-worth of oneself, experienced some sort of trauma in childhood or even adulthood, were in some sort of an abusive relationship where the voice in your head may resemble the way you were spoken to by a parent, teacher, or other member of authority.
The first step in resolving this issue and treating abusive self-talk is to become aware of that inner voice. Once you are aware, you have more control over recognizing the need to change. Then, question yourself, would you talk this way to a friend or someone you care about? Additionally, it may be useful to investigate the cause and/or moment that you started feeling more down and being hard on yourself. Try to explore the origin in which you started speaking to yourself in this negative way. Furthermore, psychotherapy is a very useful and effective tool. If you are not ready to start psychotherapy, then it may be useful to write down positive affirmations and place them throughout your home. Place them on your mirror, next to your bed, and by your door. Remind yourself of the positive attributes that you have and all that you are capable of. As you become more aware of the internal self-harm you are engaging in, you can work on transforming your inner critic towards being a more warm, kind, and accepting tone.
1. Develop proper sleep hygiene by making sure you get in bed at an early enough hour that you can get a full night’s rest, washing your face and brushing your teeth, not having caffeine after 3pm, and reducing screen time before you are laying down.
2. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy such as bike riding, dancing, walking, or yoga and set aside time every day or a few times a week to engage in this activity which has been proven to reduce stress and aid in strengthening your mental health.
3. Start a daily journal and use this journal to vent about your day, talk about your innermost thoughts and feelings, and express your emotions. You can also write down affirmations in this journal so each time you open it, you are reminded of something motivational and inspirational.
4. Set boundaries in both your personal and professional life since boundaries are an important way of allowing yourself space to deal with your feelings and to avoid being overwhelmed. Set boundaries at work by not working beyond your set hours and expressing when you are overwhelmed with an assignment and need help. Set boundaries in your personal life by telling your family members, partner, or friends what is okay and what is not okay.
5. Set limits on daily social media intake because it can become toxic when consumed in large quantities. Many people express their opinions on social media, and this can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. Set a specific amount of time that you should spend on social media every day and try your best to stick to this.
When the holiday season rolls around the corner, it can be a very exciting and joyful time. However, despite the positive feelings, negative ones such as stress and feelings of being overwhelmed are experienced as well. Many people experience stress during the holiday season for a variety of reasons but not limited to:
1. Having to see family members that you do not have the best relationship with
2. Dealing with the pressure of having to buy gifts for relatives, children, friends, etc
3. Being reminded of loved ones that are no longer here to celebrate with
4. Decorating your house to be perfect in the eyes of those who are around you
5. Trying to accomplish your end of the year goals, whether they are personal or professional
6. Dealing with a romantic relationship and the thoughts and feelings of “where is this going” and commitment related discussions
In addition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can influence how you feel around this time of year. SAD is a form of depression that comes from seasonal weather changes. Most often, you can expect to experience dips in your mood beginning in the fall months and continuing throughout the winter. SAD can be caused by a disruption in your circadian rhythm, meaning the reduction of sunlight can disrupt your internal clock. Additionally, this reduced sunlight can decrease serotonin levels making you more prone to feelings of depression. Finally, the change in the seasons can affect your balance of melatonin, which in turn will affect your mood and sleep patterns. If you are already struggling with SAD, the stress that comes from dealing with the holiday season can be too much for someone to deal with.
So, what can you do to manage this stress during the holiday season and winter months? Here are some tips that may be useful in reducing holiday stress:
1. Allow yourself breaks if you are feeling overwhelmed and buried under the pressure
2. Designate time to be alone and meditate
3. Develop a routine that you can stick to
4. Make sure you get fresh air, even if just to walk to the mailbox
5. Find the strength to set boundaries with people and conversations that you are uncomfortable with
6. Set a budget for how much you want to spend on gifts
7. Say “no” to anything that you do not feel you can mentally or physically handle
8. Set time to read a book or journal everyday
9. Enjoy a nice bath before bed
10. Set time to sit under a comfortable blanket and watch a funny TV show or movie
The vagus nerve, the longest nerve in your body, is also known as a secret weapon that can be used to treat stress, sleep, anxiety, and depression. When you stimulate this nerve, your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, allowing your body and mind both to begin to relax. The vagus nerve can influence your breathing, heart rate, and digestive function. This one nerve has a powerful effect on a lot of your daily functions.
There are specific activities that you can practice to stimulate this nerve. Below are some of the more common stimulation exercises:
4. Inhaling for longer than you are exhaling and breathing deeply from your stomach
5. Foot massages
6. Being exposed to the cold through cold showers or cold temperatures outside
9. Eating fiber
When you stimulate this nerve, your body will relax, and you will experience a sense of calm. Additionally, this will allow for a reduction of stress and enable more of a restful sleep. The power of the vagus nerve is not known by everyone, but the hope is that as more people learn about its benefits, the more we will see an improvement in overall mental health.
When do I need to see a therapist? That is the million-dollar question that many of us tend to ask ourselves.
This answer will vary by person and situation. However, if you are already pondering whether or not you should go to therapy, that means something in itself. I find that most of my clients attend therapy when they are feeling stuck or need help working through a situation. If you are wondering if it is time for you to enter therapy, here are some sample reasons listed below but not limited to:
1. You are losing interest in activities you once enjoyed.
2. You feel disconnected from your partner but are unsure why.
3. You feel unfocused on daily tasks and cannot accomplish simple goals.
4. You find yourself lashing out at those closest to you.
5. You find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to drift off into a peaceful sleep.
6. You feel overwhelmed by your emotions and do not know where to turn.
7. You are engaging in unhealthy habits, such as excessive drinking, binge eating, not eating, hair pulling, or reckless sexual behavior.
8. You have gone through a recent breakup and need help learning how to be on your own again.
9. You are experiencing a lot of stress at work and need to learn ways to cope.
10. You find yourself constantly crying for no reason at all.
11. You have recently gone through a traumatic experience and find that you cannot leave your house.
12. You fear being rejected by others.
13. You find that you have lost the motivation to engage in daily hygiene.
14. You find yourself questioning your future, next steps, and how to continue to live.
15. You are thinking of harming yourself or someone else.
16. You just moved to another city and have feelings about that.
17. A family member passed away 6 months ago, and you are tired about talking to your friends about it.
Exercise is clinically proven to help people who suffer from both anxiety and depression. When you engage in exercise, you improve both your physical and mental health. Not only does exercise reduce inflammation but it also assists in positive changes in the brain such as neuron regrowth. When you exercise, it releases “happy hormones” such as dopamine and endorphins. Additionally, exercising is a healthy distraction or outlet that can be used to free your mind of stressful thoughts.
Exercise can help with anxiety because it allows you to focus on something other than the anxious feelings you are experiencing. Additionally, it assists in relieving both tension and stress in your body. It can increase your energy levels both physically and mentally. Exercise is correlated with a reduction of anxiety because when you focus on the movement of your body, it allows you to escape from your internal racing thoughts. Think about how you focus on the things around you when you run or the physical feeling of your breath getting increasingly heavier. When you redirect your attention to your body, you are already allowing other parts of your mind to relax and more specifically, the central nervous system.
The following are specific exercises that can help reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms:
1. Walking/Running: This activity is important because the hormone GABA is released. GABA’s main job is to reduce the activity in your central nervous system which is responsible for causing anxiety. The release of GABA brings on a sense of calmness. In addition, when you walk through a park, you are engaging with nature—your mind focuses on the environment and sense of calmness may come over you.
2. Cardio: Cardio is beneficial because it releases endorphins, boosts dopamine and norepinephrine, and releases toxins. These neurotransmitters and chemicals can lead to a feeling of euphoria or happiness.
3. Dancing: When you dance, you release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters will help you feel relaxed, happy, and calm.
4. Yoga: Yoga can be helpful for anxiety and depression due to its mind and body altering effects. Yoga can be viewed as a form of meditation. Additionally, the body positions you participate in force your attention to be redirected to your body and in turn relaxing your mind.
Each person may find that they benefit differently in terms of the types of exercise and frequency amount—in order to experience relief from their anxiety and depressive symptoms. Some people may want to engage in a daily physical activity while others maybe less so. Each case will be different and dependent on your specific symptoms, level of severity, and other interventions you are practicing. Exercise is not a guaranteed cure for anxiety and depression but can be one of the tools you use towards reducing symptoms.
25 grounding techniques that help alleviate feelings of anxiety:
1. Feel an object around you and evaluate the touch, sight, and scent of this item
2. Take deep breaths inhaling and exhaling
3. Take a small bite of a food you enjoy
4. Sip a drink slowly and focus on the taste and smell
5. Listen to your favorite song and sing along
6. Make a list of your favorite things, utilizing different categories such as books, vacation spots, movies, etc.
7. Sit and play with your pet
8. Tell a joke (if you are alone, tell it to yourself to make yourself laugh)
9. Watch a funny television show
10. Go for a walk outside and note what you see
11. Hold a piece of ice and focus on how it feels and how soon it begins to melt
12. Smell your favorite candle
13. Exercise! This can be anything from simple stretching to a jog around your neighborhood
14. Listen to your favorite song and dance along
15. Remind yourself that the feelings will pass and the anxiety is temporary
16. Visualize a photo of something that makes you happy, such as a friend, family member, or pet
17. Repeat kind affirmations and read different quotes that will inspire and distract you
18. Reach out to a friend and plan a fun activity together
19. Reach out and hold onto something comforting such as your favorite sweater, a comfortable blanket, or your pillow
20. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
21. Sing along to some music that you enjoy
22. Remind yourself about how anxiety passed previously and that you got through it
23. Clench your fists, squeeze hard, and then release
24. Take a warm bath and focus on how it makes your body feel
25. Visualize that you have a dial in front of you that represents your emotions and picture yourself turning it down
1. How can someone who doesn’t live with BPD better understand some of the BPD behaviors?
The best way to understand people better who have BPD is to educate yourself on the various symptoms. You can find this information in the DSM-V or Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Additionally, you can learn more by seeking out information from a mental health professional. As you learn more about BPD, you may become more capable of empathizing and understanding what they are going through. While you may not be able to truly understand what they are going through, with more learning and patience, you may be able to become a stronger and more supportive partner.
2. How can someone with BPD better understand the reactions and needs of their non-BPD partner?
Someone who is struggling with BPD may have difficulty in understanding other people’s reaction to their behaviors. They may not understand why someone cannot understand their choices, views, or actions. I would say that communication is key. Communicating your frustrations, confusion, and questions can help you find a middle ground.
3.What are some tips to help partners meet in the middle?
As mentioned above, communication is the most important approach to partners understanding one another. Discussing “give and take” can help two people figure out what they need in the relationship and what they are willing to let go in the spirit of finding middle ground. Think of it by both parties communicating this way: ‘help me help you,’ ‘what is it that you need from me in order to feel better?’
4. What are some relationship challenges that BPD symptoms can create, and what are the solutions to those challenges?
Those with BPD may suffer from fear of abandonment, mood swings, outbursts, and impulsive behavior. This can lead to the partner feeling helpless, lost, and even abused. The constant change in emotions can put a strain on both parties. The solution to these challenges is to seek out help. It is often difficult to conquer this on your own. The person struggling with BDP may need psychotherapy and medication. Additionally, it is important for both parties to seek out support as they navigate the ups and downs of being in a relationship with someone who has BPD.
5. What are some tips for improving communication?
In terms of improving communication, it’s best to emphasize being honest, supportive, and having boundaries with your partner. People with BPD often struggle with boundaries due to being on an emotional roller coaster that includes but is not limited to abandonment fears and intense attachment. They see boundaries as a form of rejection and therefore, may lash out. It is important to establish healthy boundaries but doing it in a way where your partner understands where this need is coming from. Seeking out both individual and couple’s therapy can help both parties develop stronger communication and coping skills. Learning how to verbalize your thoughts in an empathetic, expressive, and understanding way can help your partner understand where you are coming from.
Here are 5 specific ways that you can improve your communication skills:
1. Make sure that you focus on the problem at hand and not the person you are speaking to. This means that you want to avoid making it personal via insults, mocking tones, or yelling. This defeats the purpose of trying to communicate your feelings.
2. Reflective listening can be useful when trying to solve a problem. Reflective listening includes repeating what your partner said in your own words and allow your partner to tell you if you understand what they mean. Even if you disagree on the statement, you will have a better understanding of their feelings and then they in turn will feel heard.
3. Utilize “I” statements. This allows you to take responsibility for your feelings as opposed to placing the blame on your partner. This can prevent your partner from becoming defensive as if they feel they are under attack. You can say thinking like, “I feel upset about xyz…” instead of, “you hurt me.” Try to avoid blaming your partner since blaming doesn’t lead to a de-escalation of the conflict.
4. Become self-aware of when the conversation is not going in the right direction. If you feel it is getting too volatile or aggressive, take a break. Have both parties do something that relaxes their mind and body before returning to the issue.
5. Try to find a compromise. It is common that disagreements happen, and people will not come to an agreement. Therefore, it is beneficial to try and find a solution that will make both parties feel satisfied and okay enough to move forward.
6, How can couple’s therapy help?
Going to couples therapy could be an effective way to help the relationship. Couples therapy enables both partners to have a safe and neutral space to be honest about their feelings and concerns. A couple’s therapist can guide you by asking the right questions and to help both parties feel understood and heard. The therapist can mediate, educate, and support both parties as they work towards a more balanced and healthy relationship.
7. What’s your message of hope?
BPD can be a challenging mental health disorder for both the person diagnosed and their partner. There can be a lot of strain in the relationship as each partner tries navigating through the ups and downs. However, this is not an impossible task. Utilizing different forms of support such as a professional, education resources, and patience—you may be able to work together to achieve a happy medium in the relationship. BPD will be a part of your life but does not have to take over the relationship.