Accomplishments for Today (August 25, 2020)

It’s been a few days since I last wrote a blog post. I just wasn’t inspired. I still am not. For this reason, I thought I’d revisit a type of blog post I did a few times before and share my accomplishments for the day. Here goes.

1. Stayed in bed all night. I’ve been struggling with keeping a proper circadian rhythm lately, sleeping a lot during the day and not at night. Though I didn’t have too restful a sleep last night, it was good enough and I managed to stay in bed all night. I went to bed at 9:30PM and got up at 8:30AM. I also only napped for about an hour this afternoon.

2. Ate three healthy meals. We had cheesecake with our coffee today because it was another client’s birthday, but other than that I ate quite healthily today. I had yogurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast, three slices of bread for lunch and carrots, potatoes and fish for dinner.

3. Brushed my teeth, hair and used deodorant. Personal hygiene has been a struggle again lately, so this is good.

4. Had a productive appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. We discussed some of the sources of my abandonment/separation anxiety and also went into my fear of being one giant attention-seeker.

5. Did 45 minutes of mindfulness. At the appt, my CPN suggested I try mindfulness more often. She said she used to do a 45-minute daily meditation and thought I might benefit from it too. She didn’t specify which meditation she used, but I selected a body scan off Insight Timer. I actually did pretty well doing it. Of course, I couldn’t keep still the whole time, as I just had to scratch a few times when I itched. That should get better though.

6. Read for an hour. This isn’t really an accomplishment lately, as I read most days, but it’s still good.

7. Went for two walks. This is more of an accomplishment now than it used to be, as I’m sometimes seeking excuses not to go for walks. I also used the stairs, which I’m not always doing of late.

8. Did some weight-lifting exercises. I just remembered to do these while writing this post and so took a break from writing to do them. I also did some hand strength exercises.

What is something you are proud of yourself for today?

ZZZ: The Role of Sleep in Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the last post in the #AtoZChallenge. For my letter Z post, I have, each year that I got to it, used ZZZ at least among other things. And yes, it’s totally fitting with the self-care theme too. Sleep is so important! Today I’m going to explain a bit about how you can take better care of your sleep hygiene and how sleeping issues can signal other problems.

Most people have some sleeping issues at times. I have had quite a few nights in which I fell asleep late recently.

When I was a child or teen, anxiety would often keep me awake. Since I didn’t get any help for my anxiety then, the issue grew until I had to use sleeping pills for a while at age 20. When I moved into independent living, my insomnia grew worse and it was one contributing factor to my suicidal crisis three months in. The first medication I got, was again a sleeping pill.

Now let me be very clear: sleeping pills are not to be used long-term. When I got my first script in 2006, my GP said to take it no more than two to three times a week. I was taking sleeping pills for a few months early in my psychiatric hospital stay, but I eventually decided less sleep without pills was better than less sleep with pills. I did take sleeping pills on an as-needed basis for a while after that. However, except in extreme cases of severe mental illness keeping you awake a lot, you ultimately need to find other solutions. So learn to practise proper sleep hygiene. I honestly don’t do too well on this now that I write about it.

For example, one tip is to use your bed for sleeping only. Though I do that, I tend to nap a lot too. I am learning to get up after at most an hour, so that I won’t disrupt my night-time sleep.

Also, it is recommended to turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. I’ve heard this is because the blue light of your smartphone or computer screen can stimulate the brain to stay awake. As I always keep my screen curtain on, this isn’t an issue for me and it may not be with dark mode either. However, I do experience that keeping very busy shortly before bedtime keeps my brain awake.

Some people find that hearing some white noise or soft music can help them sleep. I usually turn on calming music when I’m struggling to fall asleep, but eventually turn it back off as it seems to lead to a more restless sleep.

Having a soft toy in bed does help me too. Occasionally, I diffuse some lavender essential oil. There’s no scientific proof that it works, but it may help.

In addition to insomnia, sleeping too much is also an issue. I find that I sleep way too much when I’m depressed. This, of course, in turn worsens my depression.

Lastly, waking up unrefreshed can happen even when you get the right amount of sleep for you. This can be caused by a number of factors, including medications you may be taking or sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. If this happens a lot, it may be time to see your doctor. Then again, doctors can be incredibly dismissive where it comes to fatigue.