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The Psychological Effects of Falling Back This Weekend

It’s here! This weekend ends Daylight Saving Time (DST), and we “fall back” to standard time this Sunday, November 6th, at 2 a.m. So that means you’ll have an extra hour of sleep or an extra hour of whatever fun-filled adventure you have planned (of course only if you’re in an area that observes DST, some places don’t).

Now I know it’s nice that we all “gain an hour” in the fall, but DST can have negative effects on us. So what does DST this time of year do to you and me?

It takes most of us about a week to adjust to the DST change. The body tracks day-to-day behavioral and physiological events with light-dark cycles. This is known to as the circadian clock. The Monday after the time change, your circadian clock gets off track so it needs to reset itself, which takes days.

Sleep patterns are also thrown off track with the time change. Quality sleep and enough sleep are both important for mental and physical health. Troubled sleep is linked to depression, memory and learning deficiencies, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and it weakens the body’s ability to fight infections.

As fall moves into winter, do you ever feel like the extra darkness and colder weather is affecting your mood? You’re probably nodding your head – I know it effects me. Getting enough sunlight is very important and this time change takes an hour of daylight from the afternoon, so that’s less time we can spend outside running, playing, exercising… whatever you like to do.

The “sunshine vitamin” (vitamin D) can protect against many things, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Not only that, sunlight helps with depression.

Psychologically, shorter days with less sunshine combined with winter can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a condition that typically starts later in the fall and continues through the winter with symptoms of unhappiness, low energy, loss of interest in work, reduced sex drive, and weight gain so make sure you:

* Eat healthy
* Drink enough water
* Avoid, or at least cut back on, drinks with caffeine
* Increase your exposure to bright light
* Increase your physical activity during the day
* Increase Vitamin D intake: The two best ways to get the Vitamin D are to get adequate sun exposure (15 to 30 minutes per day) & take vitamin D supplements

That’s probably more information than you really wanted to know about Daylight Saving Time. Anyway, there you have it. Enjoy your extra hour of sleep this Sunday night!

 

Working Through Anxiety

Anxiety. It’s unambiguous. It is what it is and that’s it. At least this is what I thought a few years back. But I have learned that that’s not true, in the literal sense. When it comes to believing what our minds tell us when we feel anxious, it’s perception, not truth.

Nevertheless, some of our beliefs have truths to them in our minds and these are actually not as true as we think they are – they are just ideas, mythical thoughts, hypnotic negatives, etc., and when we allow them to be considered truths, they hurt us.

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A lot of times we live in either the past or the future, and I had a bad habit of doing this (I still do sometimes). When I feel down, I sometimes live in the past, rehashing what was, what could have been, what I did wrong, what I could have done better, and this causes anxiety. I also can feel anxious when I think about the future, worrying over what could or may happen, usually on the negative spectrum of things.

When I do this I need to remind myself to find peace and that involves living in the moment, not working up a situation in an anxiety-induced preview. This can be very challenging. But when I stop and take the time and energy to simply listen to the frogs in my backyard chirping at night or the other little sounds of nature surrounding me, I instantly feel relief, even if it’s just momentarily, from the clutches of worrying about or trying to control the future. It takes practice and I still struggle at times. But just acknowledging what the value of living in the moment is helps me with more in-the-moment thinking.

Anxiety is also more than just a feeling; it’s part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, and can cause a lot of physical symptoms.

Here are some common physical symptoms of anxiety:

• Trembling/Shakiness
• Churning stomach/Nausea/Diarrhea
• Headache/Backache
• Heart palpitations/Racing heartbeat
• Numbness or ‘pins and needles’ feeling in arms, hands or legs
• Sweating/flushing
• Restlessness
• Feeling tired/Easily tired
• Trouble concentrating/Irritability
• Muscle tension
• Frequent urination
• Trouble falling or staying asleep/Insomnia
• Being easily startled/upset

Many of these symptoms are the same issues you would experience if you had a serious health problem. For example, anxiety can cause chest pains, just like a heart attack. Anxiety also has a tendency to intensify normal symptoms. For example, you can get a dizzy spell from not eating for a while, and that’s normal, but those of us with anxiety often feel this more severely, because we’re especially tuned into the way our bodies feel. This can make things feel worse and actually creates more anxiety, which just creates a vicious circle. Can you see how a little anxiety can do so much damage?

I urge anyone who is reading this and can relate to any of this – to stop, take a deep breath, and bring yourself into this moment.

 

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Feeling anxiety is something that affects a lot of people. It’s hard to deal with at times, but it can be overcome with a willingness and dedication to work through it, along with help from loved ones, therapists, doctors, and sometimes with medication.

It won’t happen overnight but you can work through it. And Sanctuary Counseling is here to help you do that. If you need to talk, call us. One of our caring and compassionate therapists will help you work through whatever you are struggling with.

 

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