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The Sanctuary Counseling Blog:

A Resource for Seekers

Welcome to the Sanctuary Counseling blog. We hope that you will find the topics discussed here helpful in your own personal journey of self discovery and growth. Please subscribe to receive email notifications when new articles post, and click here to share your feedback and article ideas. Check back often, as we update frequently. Our blog most often focuses on the following topics:
  • Anxiety
  • Body image
  • Depression
  • Gender identity
  • Grief and loss
  • LGBTQ living
  • Parenting
  • Phobias
  • Relationships
  • Self nurturing

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!

 

Fall Mindfulness

Welcome to fall! The season where nature checks in with itself, slows down, and prepares for winter. What better time to check in with ourselves than when the world around us is doing the same.

One way to do this is by learning to live mindfully. More than ever we hear others are doing some form of this stress-relieving mindfulness meditation. And that’s a good thing because research is showing that mindfulness has some amazing effects on the brains of those who practice mindfulness on a regular basis.

Mindfulness comes from the roots of the ancient Buddhists and was considered a type of meditation practice. In today’s world, mindfulness has grown into a variety of different therapy techniques, most of them focused on being conscious of the present moment and observing, feeling, and perceiving thoughts as they come and go. This means bringing awareness to the current state of our bodies, our feelings, and our minds.

In therapy, we talk about staying in the “here and now.” Mindfulness is a way get to the “here and now” and to separate ourselves from guilty feelings of the past and anxious feelings of the future.

Being mindful has many therapeutic advantages that I plan to discuss in later blog entries. But for now, I invite you to practice fall mindfulness. I invite you to notice what’s new or different around you. I invite you to slow down. I invite you to learn how to pay attention to the world around and inside of you. Here are a few fall focused mindfulness scripts to introduce you to mindful living.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

pumpkin-latteA rite of passage if you’re going to exist in a fall month. What does it look like? Is there a logo on the cup? Can you see the latte or do you have to take the lid off first? Is there a layer of foam across the top? What does the cup feel like? Is it smooth? Can you feel the warmth of the drink?  What does it smell like? Is it strong or subtly spiced?

Once you’ve smelled it, it is hard to resist drinking or is the smell enough to hold you over for a few seconds? Drink it. Has it cooled enough for a big swig or do you have to sip it to start? Does it taste like pumpkin or spice? After you’ve swallowed, can you still taste it? Do the spices linger or disappear? Do you feel the warmth of the drink or down your throat or in your belly?

 

Pick a pumpkin

pick-pumpkinsThis can be done in any setting where you might encounter a pumpkin (the patch, Giant Food Store, or on the bale of hay on your porch). What’s the first thing that catches your eye about the pumpkin? Is it big? Flat? Round? Is it fiercely orange or is a more nuanced hue? Does it have any noticeable birthmarks or scratches? When you touch it, is it polished and smooth or lumpy and bumpy? Is it cool to the touch? Is it hard to pick up or surprisingly light? If you tap on it, does it make a sound? Do pumpkins have a smell?

 

Take a hike through the foliage

fall-walkThis “hike” can be done in the woods or down a tree lined street in suburbia. What is the first thing your eye notices about the difference between summer trees and fall trees? Have all the leaves started to turn or are some still holding on to their summer lushness? How many colors do you notice? Have the leaves started to fall? If they have, what do you hear when you step on them? Do they crunch beneath your feet? Is it loud or soft? What do the leaves feel like if pick them up? Take a deep breath – what does being outside smell like in the fall? Does it make you feel anything inside?

 

Mindfulness actually trains your brain to be more efficient, with less distractibility and better focus. It relieves stress and even helps with becoming our best selves. And the good news is that there is much neuroscience research regarding practicing mindfulness which shows that it helps our brains become more cohesive, so everyday activities, thoughts, and attitudes are more well-rounded and balanced.

 

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