Can You Boost Your Mental Health by Keeping a Journal?

Consistently and freely writing can help you offload stress and give your brain time to heal

MOST OF US CAN LIST THE lifestyle choices that help maintain and improve mental health. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and staying socially active are all proven and well-known strategies. But another less-known yet equally simple act also has solid research to support its efficacy: writing.

Keeping a journal is a powerful mental health tool. At the American Psychiatric Association says: “Journaling can provide general wellness and self-improvement benefits, such as making you more self-aware, boosting creativity and helping you build better habits. Journaling can help you better understand your feelings and emotions and help you manage stress. Writing about things that have frustrated or upset you can help you to let go of some of the stress and gain perspective.”  more

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The Many Heath and Sleep Benefits Of Music

Music is an incredible tool for emotional health, daily performance, and sleep.

Music is a regular fixture in my daily life. I listen to music to keep me motivated while I exercise, to relax and distract me when I travel, and for a quick creativity boost when I’m writing. My family—especially my kids—have music playing around the house all the time. I also use relaxing music to unwind before bed. Music is an especially effective part of my own Power Down Hour on nights when my brain is wired or I’m feeling tense.

Music is an incredibly therapeutic tool for emotional health, daily performance, and sleep. It has been used as a healing therapy for most of human history. Ancient Arabic cultures had musicians working alongside physicians. The Greeks used music to treat mental illness. After WWII, musicians were brought to US hospitals to aid the healing of soldiers’ physical and emotional trauma.  more

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After a Spouse’s Death, Sleep Woes Up Health Risks

The death of a spouse can understandably bring sleepless nights. Now, research suggests those sleep troubles raise the odds of immune system dysfunction — which in turn can trigger chronic inflammation.

For the surviving spouse, that could mean an increased risk for heart disease and cancer, though the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

“We think these individuals are more vulnerable to the negative effects of poor sleep,” said corresponding author Diana Chirinos. She’s a research assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The study included 101 people, average age 67. Half had recently lost a spouse, while the other half were married or single.

Researchers found that the association between sleep disturbances and inflammation was two to three times higher in the grieving spouses, according to the study published recently in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.  more

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Talking to Men About Depression

Not so long ago I had to approach a friend to discuss what appeared to me to be a battle with depression. It was clear to me that this debilitating disorder was affecting both him and the people around him, and that some type of loving intervention was needed. But wow, was this a nerve-wracking conversation to have. And I’m a therapist!

Part of the difficulty was that my friend’s symptoms were more about impatience, irritability, and anger than behaviors we typically associate with depression, such as crying, moping, and an inability to get started with any task because everything seems so daunting. And this is often a reason why depression in men can be more difficult to identify than depression in women. Depressed women tend to “act in” (sleeping too much, crying, overeating, drinking too much, failing to fully function, etc.), while depressed men tend to “act out” with unpleasant behaviors. So a depressed woman might look and act depressed, while a depressed man might just seem like he’s being a jerk.  more

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Children’s lack of sleep is ‘hidden health crisis’, experts say

‘I know I will be so tired’: a teenager on living with insomnia

Thousands of children and teenagers face a mounting sleeplessness crisis, with the number of admissions to hospital of young people with sleep disorders rising sharply in six years, the Guardian can reveal.

Experts have described the problem as a hidden public health disaster, putting the surge down to a combination of exploding obesity levels, excessive use of social media before bedtime and a mental health crisis engulfing young people.

The Guardian analysed data from NHS Digital, the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system in England, revealing that admissions with a primary diagnosis of sleep disorder among those aged 16 and under has risen from 6,520 in 2012-13 to 9,429 last year.   more

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Five ways to enhance your mood and mental health

When someone is diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety, first-line treatments usually include psychological therapies and medication. What’s not always discussed are the changeable lifestyle factors that influence our mental health.

Even those who don’t have a mental health condition may still be looking for ways to further improve their mood, reduce stress, and manage their day-to-day mental health.

It can be empowering to make positive life changes. While time restrictions and financial limitations may affect some people’s ability to make such changes, we all have the ability to make small meaningful changes.

Here are five lifestyle changes to get you started:  more

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Heroin and human sleep

Abstract

It has been suggested that drugs of addiction, e.g. barbiturates, cause suppression of REM sleep followed by immediate withdrawal rebound. In rats it has been demonstrated that morphine will suppress REM sleep and, in a pilot study of withdrawal in humans, there was a delayed REM sleep rebound.

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A: Four normal male volunteers had a subcutaneous injection of 7.5 mg heroin on 3 successive nights. During this period the percentage of REM sleep was decreased with respect to baseline values for these subjects and showed a trend back to control values over the 3 nights. On withdrawal there was a moderate but immediate percentage of REM sleep increase which, over the first 3 h of sleep, was significant.  more

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