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Do’s, Don’t and other resources for boosting your sleep and mental well-being

Guest article from Wellnesscentral.info

You know the feeling: As soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind starts racing. You toss and turn for hours before suddenly realizing you only got a few hours of broken sleep. If you’re a parent, chances are you’re familiar with this sort of scenario — particularly if you are a parent who is struggling to cope with anxiety. The thing is, you need to break the cycle of poor sleep to manage anxiety and your general mental health. Here’s how to start.

Don’t Let Anxiety Keep You From Getting Good Sleep

If you’re a parent living with anxiety, constant worries and fears could be interfering with how well you sleep. To improve your quality of sleep, you may need to address your anxiety first.

  • Talk about your anxieties with others who will understand you to feel a sense of relief. 
  • Take steps to put fears to rest. For instance, invest in a quality home security system.
  • Know that feeling anxious is common for parents, but there are ways to address yours.
  • If you feel especially anxious while laying in bed, try getting more exercise and self-care.

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Taking Time for You

If you’re having issues with sleep, you really should be prioritizing your self-care. Self-care during the day can set you up for more relaxing nights.

  • Focusing on self-care could mean keeping a consistent routine or moving more.
  • Staying physically active is actually a good way to destress and improve your sleep.
  • Understand that self-care can be basic, like drinking more water or eating healthy.
  • If you’re a busy parent, staying organized and practicing self-compassion count!

Do Discuss Sleep and Mental Health With Your Doctors

Sometimes you need a little help to manage your mental health and get the sleep you need, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of this. Sleep is too important not to reach out for help when needed.

  • Some indicators that you may have a sleep disorder include oversleeping and snoring.
  • Keeping a sleep journal may make it easier to talk to health providers about your issues.
  • Your doctor may recommend a sleep study or counseling to address your concerns.
  • If you struggle with anxiety, routine counseling can also help you manage mental health.

Finding simple ways to take better care of yourself can do wonders for your sleep. When you get better sleep, you are likely to feel better and have an easier time coping with feelings of anxiety. Look for tactics to soothe your anxiety at home, make self-care a top priority, and be sure to talk with your healthcare providers about your sleep and mental health concerns.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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Thank you and goodbye for now

It is that time of year when I have to pay to keep my website. Unfortunately I cannot afford to pay the fee at this time and so I may lose my blog. I am hoping that in time I will have the money and be able to get it back, but it all depends on my domain name still being available.

So this may be my last post.

Just remember your mental health matters and the most important thing to do is talk to the people around you. Your friends and family will want to support you!

Thank you for reading my blogs and for all of your support.

Fingers crossed I will be back soon.

 

ANXIETY

Ways to stop the transfer of anxiety to your child

On my last post i explained that i was waiting for my dissertation results – well i can now tell you i am very pleased to have received a first!!

According to Kirmayer (2019) a clinical psychologist, the main part of treating anxiety in children is teaching their parents stress tolerance. This helps to direct the parent’s anxiety, while also helping them support and scaffold their child’s development of stress tolerance.

So if your a parent and suffer from anxiety, then you should ensure that you stay calm, with a neutral demeanour when feeling anxious in front of your child. This will teach your child that being calm is the way to deal with stress. However, if you cannot control your anxiety infront of your child (there are times when i have not managed to stay calm and my girls have witnessed me have a full blown panic attack) then after the event the parent should explain to their child how they were feeling and explain why they acted the way they did.  You should then explain that there are better ways to deal with it and talk about strategies that might help. By talking about anxiety in this way with your child, you are letting them know that it is ok to feel stressed and anxious but you are teaching them that it is manageable.

It has been proven that parents’ behaviour and genetics can affect their child’s anxiety. Although a parent cannot change their genetics, there are ways parents can help their child not to get anxiety. It involves the parent modelling the behaviour they would like to see from their child, and not letting them witness any anxious behaviour.

A parent needs to look at their own worries and how they deal with it. Making changes to the way you act, can change how the child acts. You should give your child lots of encouragement and show you are interested in your child and the difficulties they are facing. For younger children reward charts can help, these reward the child for the behaviour you would like to see, for example sleeping in their own bed at night.

If you try to help your child avoid their triggers for anxiety, then although this might help in the short term, in the long term it is actually reinforcing the anxiety. It is more important to help them find techniques to manage their anxiety and to face up to it.

There is debate as to whether children should be given warnings prior to a routine change, as some need time to get used to the idea before it happens but others find this more stressful. Normally, you will know which your child would be better with.

The NHS suggests that a parent should talk to their child about how they are feeling, reassure them that they are not alone and that they understand how they are feeling. They should then support them with finding solutions to their anxieties rather than looking at how to avoid them. With a younger child, it is recommended to try and distract them from their anxiety, and with an older child relaxation techniques may be useful.

If the child’s anxiety gets no better after you have tried supporting them yourself, then seeking external support is the next step. Making an appointment with the child’s GP, who can then refer on to the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The Young Minds helpline is another point of contact, which can give you and your child advice on how to get support with their mental health. The support that is offered by CAMHS would depend on the child’s age and what is causing the anxiety. The most common support that is given for anxiety in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT involves talking to a therapist who helps the child identify patterns between what they think, feel and do in situations where they are feeling anxious. Occasionally, the counsellor may ask to do sessions with the whole family, especially if it is a family problem that has caused the anxiety. The NICE guidance states that CBT can be given one to one, or in a group, and that the child or young person should be seen between eight and twelve times.

Medication is used regularly with adults, but rarely with children. If CBT does not work with an adolescent or a young adult then a doctor may prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Research shows that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the first line medication for children, and have been proven to work. There has been debate over the risks of children taking medication, but the research shows that the benefits outweigh the risks. Although, the long term effects have not been researched.

The American Psychiatric Association (2013) describes resilience as adapting well when faced with threat or tragedy. It first became a concept after the trauma of war. Practitioners in health, social care and education work together to try and promote resilience in children and young people. Parents can also help promote resilience in their children by providing their child with a balanced and positive view of the world and explaining to the children that although bad things can happen, that society and individuals can overcome them. Resilience can be built by talking, problem solving and support.

The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds (2019) explained that compulsory health education, including mental health support will be taught in schools. These lessons will include mindfulness lessons and breathing techniques which will improve a child’s resilience. He also added that the Government is launching mental health trials in 370 schools, with them contributing evidence of the best mental health supports. This will include having a designated mental health first aider.

 

Just remember that talking to your child about anxiety and showing them ways to deal with it helps. Children copy their parents behaviours so try and explain to them why you have acted in a certain way.

Talking is the best therapy.

ANXIETY

Does parental anxiety naturally transfer to children?

The next few blogs I write are going to be based around my dissertation. I have only recently completed my dissertation and I am waiting on my results. I decided to do my dissertation on the transfer of parental anxiety to a child and whether there was anything to stop this transfer. This blog will look at the transfer and I will write another about whether you can stop it.

Between 8 and 11% of children suffer from anxiety that affects their daily life and it has been found that anxiety in children has doubled in the last two years due to the pressures of modern life.

It has been proven by many researchers that anxiety runs in families. One study showed that children who had a parent with anxiety were seven times more likely to experience anxiety than other children.

It has also been proven that anxiety can originate in early life due to the rapid growth and development of the brain. Neurodevelopment psychopathology begins prior to conception. So a mother who is anxious during her pregnancy can pass this on to her baby during pregnancy and soon after birth.

The main way that anxiety transfers from a parent to a child is through a parents behaviours and coping mechanisms. This is a transfer through learned behaviour.

Children look to their parents for information on how to interpret a situation. If a parent feels anxious then the child will determine that these situations are unsafe.

An anxious mother often over involves herself in her child’s life, and this can also increase their child’s perception of threat.  If a parent then becomes over protective, the child learns that they cannot deal with the threat themselves and that they need their parents help. This can then lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of inadequacy which can lead to anxious behaviours.

A parent with anxiety is more likely to use catastrophising language which makes their child more anxious.

There have been many studies carried out looking at the genetic link and learned behaviour and it has been found that learnt behaviour is more likely to transfer anxiety from a parent to a child.

 

I can definitely see how my behaviours may have passed on anxiety to my daughter. My next blog will be about what we can do to stop this transfer.

Have you had any experience with this. Please share your stories.

ANXIETY, babies and miscarriage

Miscarriage and anxiety

So when I wrote my post about the exhausted smile I was a mess. It turns out what had got me into that mess was another miscarriage. Over Christmas I had started to feel really poorly with flu like symptoms but the last time I had felt like that I was pregnant. My husband was the one to realise my period was late (I hadn’t even noticed).

I had had my tubes tied during my c section with my son in 2017. So I shouldn’t have been able to get pregnant. After a few days of worrying I took a pregnancy test and it was positive.

I was devastated. I already had three children and did not want anymore. Plus we have australia booked in the summer and I knew it would affect me being able to go there. But on the other hand I don’t think I would have been able to have an abortion  – it’s just not in me. So I had no idea what  I was going to do.

During this worrying I got a stomach ache. I went to the toilet and I jwas bleeding. As I wiped I saw my foetus on the tissue. I didn’t know how to feel. I was relieved but devastated at the same time. Even when you do not want the baby,  you also do not want to miscarry.

The next few days were strange as I didn’t know how to feel. I spoke to my friends and family about what had happened and that helped me try to process my feelings.

A couple of months went by and I thought I was dealing with it quite well.  But then something changed, and I felt like my world had crashed down. I was struggling to do anything, struggling to think of anything happy.

I just wanted to be alone, didn’t want to do anything with my family or friends.

Being around people at work and at home was draining and i stopped going to work. I just wanted to shut myself away.

As I have felt like this before i was able to recognise that I needed help.  I went to the doctor’s and told her everything that had happened recently.

Straight away she said the miscarriage was affecting my hormones and had also affected the sertraline I was taking. It was back to how it had been when I had been pregnant with my son. The sertraline was being covered by my hormones and so wasn’t strong enough to do its job. She doubled my setraline and also referred me for a blood test and to the gynae clinic to see if my tubes were definitely tied.

The sertraline worked, within a few days I was feeling back to my normal self. My boss told me I should have come to her and told her about my miscarriage and about how I was feeling. I realised I should have done.

I am normally very good at talking about my feelings and experiences but in this instance I hadn’t been and I regretted it.

 

Update on my tubes – I had a scan where they put dye in to see if they were closed properly (it was the most uncomfortable thing ever,  I felt like I was having contractions ). They have found that my right tube is tied but my left tube has come un done.  I have no idea how this has happened and I now have to wait for my appointment in June to find out what they can do about it.

 

Final message – please talk to someone about how you are feeling as you are important!

ANXIETY

Talking about our experiences

Today my family and I have attended a family day ran by the manchester resilience hub for all those families affected by the Manchester bombing in 2017.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day , I was going to support my daughters and didn’t really think about how it might help me.

We met lots of new people which was amazing. Everyone had their own experiences of that awful night, some alot worse than others. But by bringing everyones feelings and experienckes together it meant we could be open about how we all felt and how to support each other.

It was great for the girls as they got to talk about their feelings and experiences with others who were actually there  (something that they’ve never been able to do before).

For me it helped me know how to help the girls with their trauma. They talked about how everyone deals with trauma differently and how it can last a long time.

They talked about grounding techniques – smelling strong smells, drinking fizzy drinks, concentrate on your feet touching the floor, look at a photo to remind yourself that you are safe.

It’s important to remember that thoughts are just thoughts and are not facts.

So if you or someone you know has dealt with trauma or anxiety, talk it through with someone you trust. Or even better find people who have gone through a similar experience to yourself and talk it through with them. Share your thought’s and how you deal with it.

 

Talking helps!!!

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The exhausted smile

There are so many different smiles, and even in depression there can still be many smiles. There is the fake one that shows people you are okay when your not – this is the one that exhausts you. There is the genuine smile when your children do something amazing for you. There is a half smile when your trying to be ok but just not there.

As much as we say we need to try and be there for someone who is anxious or depressed, we also need to know when to give them space. As always having to put a smile on your face and act normal (whatever normal is), just exhausts you. There needs to be a balance, knowing when someone needs a bit of space and alone time and then also not letting them be on their own all the time and letting them know you are there for them.

 

Depression is a minefield, I have no idea why I am feeling like this, trying to understand it, exhausts me and trying to put on a smile, exhausts me.

 

ANXIETY

A child’s anxiety

Since I can remember my eldest daughter has suffered from anxiety. She has always worried about her families, friends and her own health, she has worried about the house burning down, everything she can worry about – she does. We use to think it was something she would grow out of. She would check we had locked the doors, check we had turned off the hob and the oven and would ask us to check too.

But then came the 22nd May 2017 – the day that changed her life and most peoples in England. She and her sister had received tickets for Ariana Grande’s concert for Christmas. As I was due to give birth on the 20th May (he came on the 15th) we had asked my sister to take the girls to the concert. They were very excited as they had watched Ariana on TV for a few years on Victorious and Sam and Cat and loved her.

After school they got ready and went to the train station with my sister. The train was cancelled and the next one they could get was going to mean they missed the support acts. But this is what happened as they couldn’t get an earlier train. I had a text off them to say they had arrived and then a photo of them enjoying the concert.

I then went to sleep as my baby was only a few days old and I was trying to sleep when he was. My husband was going to drive to Manchester to pick them up so I knew they were in safe hands.

But I was awoken by my phone ringing, my sister spoke and said “I am just letting you know we are all ok”. I said “ok” i thought it was wierd her ringing to say they were ok as i hadn’t thought they wouldn’t be. But then she said “have you not seen the news?” I hadn’t. She told me what had happened.

They had been enjoying the show and then Ariana had gone off stage and had been called back on for a final song. She came on and sang “One last time”. Hollie had needed the toilet at this point but my sister had said for her  to wait. As you all know what happened next, i won’t explain it. I know a lot of people’s lives changed for ever that day – 22 lives lost, many injured. My daughter Ella’s story is that of post traumatic stress disorder.

Ella was trampled on in the fight to escape the building – her shoe had come off and she was trying to get it back. She was very slightly injured but nothing that needed medical attention – she was very lucky in this respect. My sister did an excellent job of keeping my daughters both safe and i will be eternally grateful to her for this. When my husband arrived he saw what had happened and was focused on finding the girls and my sister and getting them to safety – which he did. When the girls arrived home they were in shock – all they could think of was praying that Ariana was ok. I don’t think at their age they had understood the scale as to what had happened and all the people involved. At that point we wanted to shelter them from it.

But the next day at school (they went in late, but it was their sports day so we knew it would distract them) everyone was talking about what had happened. The news was all about it (as obviously it would be) and so our plan to shelter them from it, came to an end and we had to answer their many many questions. This continued for the following weeks as everytime the radio was on there would be a report on it and the girls would have more questions.

At first we thought they were both dealing with it well, considering. But as time went on we realised Ella was struggling.

Over the summer she stopped eating, her anxiety over everything had got worse. She found chewing hard, as she thought she was going to choke on her food, so instead she stopped eating. This was horrendous to watch your 9 year old daughter being too scared to eat. We took her to the doctors, who confirmed to her there was nothing wrong with her physically to stop her eating but obviously her anxiety needed treatment. She had also started having panic attacks.

CAMHs thankfully got her in very quickly – this was mainly due to the Manchester Resilience Hub ensuring that anyone who had been present at Manchester on that night, that needed counselling, was seen within 2 weeks of seeing a doctor. The Manchester Resilience Hub also sent out questionnaires around this time for anyone who attended the concert to fill in, online. From the results of Ella’s questionnaire – they had phoned me to speak about her results and see in what way they could help.

CAMHs deemed her not to need the post traumatic stress counselling, but that she did need regularly counselling for her anxiety and panic attacks. She started having counselling once a week – i wasn’t allowed in with her. After a few weeks she came out and said i have told them i do not need the counselling anymore. I couldn’t do anything about this, even though i think she should have carried on.

Things got a bit better, she started eating again but she still won’t eat any meat that is chewy as it gets her into a panic. Over the last year or so the panic attacks have become more regular again. Anytime she hears a loud noise from an unknown source or their is an alarm of any kind she goes into a panic. She says she can hear screaming and thinks that their is another terrorist attack. It is horrendous as a parent to see her like this and not be able to do anything to help. A few days ago we were in Morrisons cafe and the fire alarm started going off. Ella started having a panic attack. People were running around, others were hardly moving as no one knew what to do. It turned out to be a false alarm but this did not help as Ella was in a full panic attack by this point. We have realised that we need to find her some more help and support as she seems to be getting worse rather than better.

The Manchester Resilience Hub has been brilliant, they send regular questionnaires which she answers and due to her answers they also ring us quite regularly to see what help they can offer.  The problem is that they signpost us to CAMHs who are so overrun that nothing seems to come of it.

I know many people were affected by the attack and alot are far worse off than my daughter but i wanted to share her story to show that it is not just us adults that suffer from anxiety and that although the affects on her are not physical they are still deep and affect her everyday life.

 

ANXIETY

Ups, downs and dreaming of travelling

Recently I have been very up and down. One day I am full of life and thinking about not wasting a moment of life, the next I cant be bothered doing anything and the next I want to uproot my family and go travelling.

I have never wanted to go travelling before, my sister has travelled the world for 8 years and still hasn’t seen everywhere, and I was never interested before. But over the last few months the urge has suddenly come over me. I am wondering whether this is because my anxiety is under control with my sertraline and I can imagine actually being able to enjoy travelling. I have read other peoples blogs about travelling and taking a family travelling. It looks ace. I think another reason that is making me want to go, is the monotony of everyday life:

work

cleaning

tidying

its so boring. I want to show my children the world, I want to experience different places and how people live and let my children see that too. As I work in education I think I could give my children a travelling education but I think the experiences of seeing the world would benefit them more than anything else.

But this is all a dream as there is no way we could afford it, and I think I am struggling to get my head around that.

But we are going on a travelling sort of holiday in the summer. It is my husbands cousins wedding in Byron Bay in August and to afford to go we are having long layovers. One layover in New York for 18 hours, one in Houston for 12 hours and then we fly to Sydney. We are then going to hire a car and drive up the coast to the Gold Coast. We are all very excited as it is a dream holiday. I have donated my eggs again to help pay the costs and also we are working hard and had some inheritance.

Anyway enough of that, I started with how iv been feeling. I don’t know what is causing me to have up and down days but I do feel like my anxiety is mainly under control. However last Saturday night I went out for a meal with friends to Salvatore’s (my favourite restaurant – if you haven’t been, you definatly should give it a try – the tomato garlic bread is to die for). I had eaten a lot and I was drinking barcadi and coke and the coke was sitting heavily on my stomach. I was due to meet my husband in town for drinks where he was with his work friends, who I had never met before. My mum was amazing and offered to take me into town as I do not like being in taxi’s on my own. But after she picked me up I started panicking as I was desperate for the toilet. the amount of food I had eaten and the fact I had had pasta and then drank coke was making my tummy go funny. I was sat in the car with my mum and my heart was racing, I wanted to jump out of the car into the cold air but at the same time knew I was best staying in the car so I could get to the toilet faster.  When I saw my husband I jumped out of the car and told him how I was feeling. He reassured me, and got me straight to the pub and to the toilet. I am so grateful to him as he always keeps me calm.

Thanks for reading, and if anyone has any feedback let me know. Also if you experience ups and downs or you can relate about wanting to travel as a family and maybe have any ideas on how we could finance that please comment.

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Apologies

I apologise for my lack of blogging recently. I have been snowed under with my top up degree, my two jobs (yes iv taken on a second job), being a mum, a wife and keeping a house. My house has taken a back seat and is a bit of a mess.

Drowning – is the only way I can describe how my life has been. I feel like I’m drowning in my life.

 

Hopefully I will get chance to blog again soon.

Thank you for reading my blogs, remember you can look at back at my old blogs if you haven’t already read them, I would like to share my life with anxiety with as many people as possible to help other people who suffer.