In the fall, the clocks go back an hour, ending daylight saving time (DST) and going back to standard time. Changing the clocks affects health, safety, and productivity in a number of different ways. In this video, we’ll look at how the time change affects health, what researchers recommend as for policy changes, and 3 simple things you can do to adjust to the time change
Psychiatrists and Psychologists both have advanced training in the field of mental health but there are some important distinctions. In this video, we’ll look at the differences between psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists.
Did you know that you’ve got an entire ecosystem in your body? Traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda understood the importance of gut health, digestion and nutrition on mental health. Modern science is catching up. In this video, we’ll take a closer look at the microbiome-gut-brain axis.
Do you tend to wake up in the middle of the night? In this video, we’ll look at whether or not it’s normal to wake up at night and what to do if you cant’ get back to sleep.
Cognitive distortions are thought patterns that can feed into cycles of stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. We all have them but they can be hard to spot if you don’t know what to look for! In this video, we’ll look at 3 common cognitive distortions and discuss how to challenge them.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps with sleep and multiple other functions in the body. In this video, we’ll look at four food sources that can help boost your body’s production of melatonin and get a better night’s sleep.
Do you ever say “my anxiety”, “my insomnia”, or “my depression”? The thoughts and words we choose can actually make those experiences worse. In this video, we’ll look at what happens in our brain and body when we “own” those experiences and what to say instead.
Have you been doomscrolling more than usual? It’s a natural response to uncertain situations, but it can make us more anxious and depressed. In this video, you’ll learn why we do it and 5 tips to help you stop the cycle of doomscrolling.
Breathing is a really interesting physiological process. Unlike other bodily functions like digestion, breathing may be involuntary (happens automatically without us thinking about it), or voluntary (happens consciously under our control). The way we breathe has a direct impact on the way we feel.
Have you ever noticed what your breathing is like under different circumstances?
You may have noticed that when you’re stressed out, your breathing is more rapid, that your breaths are more shallow and come from the upper chest. This is how we breathe when our body senses danger.
What about when you’re relaxed, what’s your breathing like then? You may have noticed that in a relaxed state, your breathing is slower, deeper, and comes from the belly. This is how we breathe when we’re comfortable and at ease.
How might you feel if you were breathing like that all the time?
There are a multitude of benefits to practicing breathing exercises, like:
- Balancing the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and stimulate the parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system
- Stimulating the vagus nerve to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression
- Promoting a healthy cardiovascular system by reducing the heart rate and blood pressure
- Improving immune function and lung function
- Reducing insomnia
Here are 5 easy breathing practices to try
1. Start by noticing your breath
Check in with yourself a few times a day, like before you start work, when you sit for a meal, or before you get on a meeting. Take a few seconds to notice your breath. You don’t need to change anything, just notice it. Over time, the act of paying attention to your breath will become automatic and will help you feel more present and mindful.
2. Focus on the exhalation
Oftentimes, when doing breathing exercises, people focus too much on the inhalation and this can actually cause more anxiety. Shifting your focus to a long, slow and complete exhalation will help with relaxation.
3. Box breathing
This is so effective that Navy SEALS are trained to use this technique to help with focus in high pressure situations. How to do this: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4. Do this 4 times.
4. 4-7-8 Breathing
This is another great technique that is very effective at promoting relaxation. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Do this 4 times.
5. Alternate nostril breathing
You may have done this in a yoga class. This is a very effective practice that has tons of research behind it and provides so many benefits for physical and emotional health. There is a specific method to it, so I recommend learning it from a trained yoga teacher or through an instructional video like this one.
Breathing practices are not just for when we’re feeling stressed. Daily practice of breathing exercises can improve your health and performance in your personal and professional life. It’s a free, renewable resource without side effects! Try a few minutes of these breathing exercises every day for the next week and see how it affects your experience of the day.
Do you have trouble getting up in the morning? Do you keep hitting the snooze button until you finally have to drag yourself out of bed?
That was me all throughout university and medical training. It’s one of the reasons I became so interested in sleep science and became a sleep specialist.
The good news is that you don’t have to become a sleep specialist to make your mornings go more smoothly. Here are a few simple tricks can make it easier for you to get up and get going.
Here are 5 things you can do, before you even get out of bed, to help you wake up more easily
1. Don’t set your alarm clock for too early
This might sound counterintuitive — isn’t the point to get up earlier? Setting your alarm for too early disrupts those precious moments of REM sleep we get in the hourly hours of the morning. This will make you even more foggy and tired in the morning. If you’re one of those people who sets your alarm for one or two hours ahead of your required wake time, try this: allow yourself to sleep a little longer and set your alarm for a more reasonable time, within 15 minutes of the time you actually need to get up.
2. Let there be light
As soon as your alarm goes off, reach over to open up the blinds or curtains, or switch on the lights to full brightness. Think of bright light as nature’s alarm clock. A good dose of bright light in the morning will put a stop on your brain’s secretion of melatonin and help to reset your body clock (circadian rhythm). If you really want to get your circadian rhythm on track, do this at the same time every morning.
3. Sit up & stretch in bed
Stretching first thing will help get the blood flowing and wake up your muscles. If your body feels really heavy, simply sit up with your spine straight. Next, add on a stretch or two. Start by raising your arms over your head, reaching toward the ceiling. Then, stretch forward in a child’s pose while you’re still in bed. The act of sitting up and moving is another way to signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up and will help reset the circadian rhythm.
4. Listen to upbeat music
Many of us tend to grab our phones first thing in the morning and start scrolling through the news or emails. Not only would this make a person not want to get out of bed, it also sets the tone for the day by affecting motivation, stress levels, and mood. Listening to upbeat music helps to reduce blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and will give you a little boost of motivation to get up.
5. Drink water
Are you a member of the “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” tribe? Whether you tend to start your day with a cup of coffee or a green smoothie, I always recommend having a glass of water first. Approximately 60% of the body is composed of water and we need to stay hydrated to keep our organs functioning optimally. Overnight, we naturally become dehydrated, which contributes to feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Keep a bottle of water on your nightstand and enjoy a refreshing drink of water before you even get out of bed.
Want to learn more about sleep optimization? Click here to get my FREE sleep guide.