Authentic Counseling AssociatesSacramentoCounseling.org
It is hard to relax. Even now with everyone at home you find projects around the house this needs to be done, that needs to be done, the kids are schooling from home, we are working from home. Take a moment to truly relax and see what it can do for you. Here is a little exercise to help you get in that truly relaxed state.
The Relaxation Response
Adapted from http://www.relaxationresponse.org/
What is Relaxation?
The Relaxation Response is a state where you are physically relaxed and mentally alert. You can learn to achieve this state through the practice of the relaxation exercise described here.
What the Relaxation Response is NOT –
- Lazy on the couch
- Being Lazy
What it IS –
- A mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed
- Best done in an awake state
- You can learn it, and it becomes more profound with practice
You should practice the simple exercise described below to lower your stress levels. It is even better to incorporate this simple practice in your daily routine and practice it once or twice a day three to four days a week.
- Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes
- Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed.
- Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word, “one,” silently to yourself. For example, breathe in… out, “one,” – in… out, “one,” etc. Breathe easily and naturally.
- When you notice your mind wandering (It will) just notice it and passively bring your attention back to your breathing.
Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.
Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. With practice, the response should come with little effort. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.
ON-LINE SUPPORT GROUPS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, after the first person died of coronavirus or COVID-19. Schools and businesses closed. People are staying home. People are not able to work at their jobs. Grocery shelves are empty. This is a time of extraordinary stress. People are feeling isolated, lonely, depressed, worried, anxious, fearful, angry and panicked.
- People are isolated in their homes, feeling lonely and depressed.
- People are not able to earn a living. They are worried about their future.
- People are not able to get the household products and food that they like.
- People who are struggling with addictions are cut off from the social supports they have developed.
- Parents have to stay home with their children. Many of these children have hyperactivity and other behavior disorders.
- Teen-age sons and daughters have to stay home and do not understand why they cannot go out and be with their friends.
- Husbands and wives living together in confined spaces are getting irritable and taking it out on each other.
- Seniors are isolated in their homes and are not allowed to have visitors.
If any of this has been a problem for you, you may benefit from FREE on-line support groups being led by experienced psychologists and counselors at Authentic Counseling Associates of Gold River, California.
On-line sessions are conducted through ZOOM technology. Each session lasts for 60 minutes and is led by a trained psychologist or counselor. Dates and times are posted below.
On-line support group sessions are a free service to the public during the coronavirus crisis. On-line support group sessions are NOT psychotherapy and should not be considered psychotherapy. Users agree to hold harmless Authentic Counseling Associates and its on-line support group facilitators.
For further information about services available at Authentic Counseling Associates please visit our website at sacramentocounseling.org. Medicare and self-pay accepted.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
‘Sleep hygiene’ is the term used to describe good sleep habits.
Considerable research has gone into developing a set of
guidelines and tips which are designed to enhance good
sleeping, and there is much evidence to suggest that these
strategies can provide long-term solutions to sleep difficulties.
There are many medications which are used to treat insomnia,
but these tend to be only effective in the short-term. Ongoing
use of sleeping pills may lead to dependence and interfere
with developing good sleep habits independent of medication,
thereby prolonging sleep difficulties. Talk to your health
professional about what is right for you, but we recommend
good sleep hygiene as an important part of treating insomnia,
either with other strategies such as medication or cognitive
therapy or alone.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
1) Get regular. One of the best ways to train your body to
sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the
same time every day, even on weekends and days off! This
regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your
body something to work from.
2) Sleep when sleepy. Only try to sleep when you actually
feel tired or sleepy, rather than spending too much time
awake in bed.
3) Get up & try again. If you haven’t been able to get to
sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do
something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then
return to bed and try again. Sit quietly on the couch with
the lights off (bright light will tell your brain that it is time
to wake up), or read something boring like the phone
book. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or
interesting, as this will wake you up even more.
4) Avoid caffeine & nicotine. It is best to avoid consuming
any caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, and
some medications) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4-6
hours before going to bed. These substances act as
stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep
5) Avoid alcohol. It is also best to avoid
alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before going to
bed. Many people believe that alcohol is
relaxing and helps them to get to sleep at
first, but it actually interrupts the quality of
6) Bed is for sleeping. Try not to use your bed
for anything other than sleeping and sex, so that your body
comes to associate bed with sleep. If you use bed as a
place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, pay
bills, and other things, your body will not learn this
Centre for Clinical I nterventions
7) No naps. It is best to avoid taking naps
during the day, to make sure that you
are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it
through the day without a nap, make
sure it is for less than an hour and
8) Sleep rituals. You can develop your own rituals of things to
remind your body that it is time to sleep – some people find
it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for
15 minutes before bed each night, or sit calmly with a cup of
9) Bathtime. Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can
be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you
to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again.
Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in
10) No clock-watching. Many people who struggle with sleep
tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the
clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn
on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative
thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to
sleep” or “it’s so early, I have only slept for 5 hours, this is
11) Use a sleep diary. This worksheet can be a useful way of
making sure you have the right facts about your sleep, rather
than making assumptions. Because a diary involves watching
the clock (see point 10) it is a good idea to only use it for
two weeks to get an idea of what is going and then
perhaps two months down the track to see how you
12) Exercise. Regular exercise is a good idea to
help with good sleep, but try not to do strenuous
exercise in the 4 hours before bedtime. Morning
walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed!
13) Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep
well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very
empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful
to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can
also interrupt sleep. Some people recommend a warm glass
of milk, which contains tryptophan, which acts as a natural
14) The right space. It is very important that your bed and
bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler
room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make
sure you have curtains or an eyemask to block out early
morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your
15) Keep daytime routine the same. Even if you have a bad
night sleep and are tired it is important that you try to keep
your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is,
don’t avoid activities because you feel tired. This can
reinforce the insomnia.
Centre for Clinical Interventions
Quotes and reflections by Chris Mathe, PhD
There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~ Henri Bergson
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. ~ James A. Baldwin
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~ Anatole France
A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.
~ Katharine Butler Hathaway
You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing in.
The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. ~ Charles DuBois
We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
~ Anais Nin
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mohandas Gandhi
Change is a continuous process of widening our perspectives and allowing more possibilities into our lives. Yes, it’s inevitable and everything is constantly changing, but we can choose to ride this wave with wonder and abundance or with fear and grasping. The choices we make determine how much joy and pain we feel in the process.
~ Chris Mathe