The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep? Who’s She?

Sleep is so important for so many reasons. Getting 8-9 hours of sleep increases your energy-levels, encourages a better eating-routine, and helps keep your mind clear and ready for what the day may hold. However, sleep is also difficult for so many reasons. Whether you have insomnia, anxiety, racing-thoughts, or simply can’t get into a good routine, lack of sleep is a common issue that we have all come across at some point. Unfortunately, it is easy to become caught up in a toxic relationship with sleep. When you can’t sleep, things that you struggle with are amplified, and when things that you struggle with are amplified, you can’t sleep. It is a vicious cycle that, while stressful, can absolutely be broken out of.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Good sleep hygiene is very important, especially if you are somebody who struggles with insomnia or the vicious cycle of sleeplessness. Despite how it sounds, sleep hygiene is more than going to bed scrubbed and showered. Good sleep hygiene is a lifestyle change that encourages healthier sleep habits and an overall improvement of quality of life. Practising good sleep-hygiene is an accessible, inexpensive change that anybody can do. It is important to note that while it is healthy and a great thing to incorporate into your life, practicing good sleep hygiene is not intended to replace medical treatment for diagnosed sleep disorders, and that it is always a good idea to check in with your physician if you are having chronic sleep issues.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some surprisingly simple tips for incorporating good sleep hygiene into your life: 1. Your bed is for sleeping

With the ongoing pandemic and the safety protocols that have come with it, more and more companies have been operating remotely. As a result, many people’s homes have also become their office spaces as they work from home. Even though it can be tempting to work from the comfort of your bed, it’s important to be sure to keep your bed separate from other aspects of your life, such as work and school. I also avoid playing video games, eating, and watching tv while I’m in bed. Keeping your bed separate from the rest of your daily activities will help you begin to associate your bed with sleep.

2. Remove any time pressures

I used to have an alarm clock near my bed, and I would watch as the numbers changed; an unnerving neon reminder that I still couldn’t sleep. Removing any clocks or time-displays is a good way to help avoid becoming stressed or fixated with how late it is or how much time is passing. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, keep it on your nightstand but cover it with a light cloth or piece of clothing, allowing the alarm to do its job without needing to see the numbers.

3. Fine-tune your environment

Making a couple of small changes to your bedroom or sleep area can help make it a better environment for rest and relaxation. One way that I have done this is by

hanging a tapestry between my bed and the rest of my room, turning my bed into its own comfortable little island. That way, when I leave my computer desk after a day of working or writing, heading to bed feels like walking into a whole different environment. Other easy actions such as opening a window, lighting a candle or incense, playing some white-noise or calming lo-fi music, and setting up comfortable lighting are all things that can help setting up your environment for a good night of sleep.

4. Avoid stimulants before bed

If you are a coffee-drinker or an energy-drink fan, be sure to stay conscious of how much caffeine you are consuming. If you drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis, try to set an alarm or give yourself a time that signals when you should stop drinking anything with caffeine in it. I would recommend doing so in the late afternoon. If you are used to drinking coffee or soda in the evening, try replacing it with a drink that helps promote good sleep, such as warm-milk (or a non-dairy alternative), water, or decaffeinated tea. My personal favourite evening beverage is sleepy-time tea that has chamomile and lavender in it. Having a little routine like that helps signal that it is almost time for bed.

5. Keep a Routine

Speaking of routine, while following the same schedule every day may feel monotonous, consistency is key when it comes to establishing a healthy sleep-schedule. This doesn’t at all mean that there is no room for spontaneity in your schedule, it is also important to not be rigid. The goal isn’t to make sleep the focus of your entire day, but to encourage continuity and healthy habits. A couple of things that I have incorporated into my daily routine involve setting my alarm at a similar time every day, exercising in the morning rather than at night, and eating earlier. I also have added a couple of acts of self-care, such as drinking my favourite tea before bed, taking a bath or shower before bed, doing a relaxed activity that I enjoy such as reading or knitting, and making sure that my sheets are cleaned regularly.

Sleep On It

Even though all of these tips are great ways to help improve your sleep hygiene, the most important thing to do is to be kind to yourself. Sleeping isn’t easy, especially with all of the stressors that happen in our daily lives that keep us tossing and turning at night. Try to not become too discouraged if you do not immediately succeed at getting into a steady sleep routine. If you have a couple of sleepless nights or mornings where you sleep past your alarm, applaud yourself for trying and embrace the day despite the rocky start. You are taking steps towards self-care, and that is the most important step that you can take.

Intolerance? BEECH Bach flower remedy to the rescue!

Intolerance? BEECH Bach flower remedy to the rescue!

Almost everyone we know, at some point or the other, judges others by very narrow standards, and can become highly critical and even arrogant. Luckily, most of us do not remain “stuck” there in that negative mental state and can come down from the high pedestal we stand on and be “down to earth” once again.

Unfortunately, some people continue to remain in this state of arrogance and superiority, totally focused outward from a critical point of view. Unable to focus inward and digest their life experiences and be flexible in their thinking, these people, called in Bach Flower therapy as “Beech people”, because they suffer from the negative symptoms of the Beech Bach flower remedy, also experience trouble with physical digestion and rigidity of the body.

People belonging to suppressed minority groups, such as African-Americans for example, can develop into Beech personalities. Having been subjected to years of hatred, humiliation, disappointment and battered self-esteem from other segments of society, they withdraw and build their own set of values. These private values then serve to insulate and protect them from the slings and arrows coming from the outside and in fact, even help them elevate themselves to a position of superiority over their detractors and oppressors. In some cases, entire families exhibit the Beech personality state. The Beech personality feels cut off from the greater whole, even while it longs for unity, a fellowship of souls, and harmony. The arrogance and criticism are merely a shield that has been erected in an effort to protect the individual from emotional pain.

Unable to face criticism, scorn, or disapproval from others, an individual in need of the Beech Bach Flower Essence suppresses his or her own feelings to such an extent that she cannot possibly understand or empathize with the feelings of others. In an extreme Beech state, the sufferer’s tolerance levels fall so low as to become unduly upset over such simple things as another person’s speech patterns or small gestures. That then, is truly the pinnacle of intolerance.

After a Beech personality takes Beech Bach flower remedy, they may let go of their limited value judgments. Criticism is transformed into understanding and the individual may finally experience sensitivity, genuine love, and tolerance for those who are different from himself or herself.

Dr. Bach’s Beech flower remedy helps us to reconnect with our Higher Self and with the Unity of the Universe. It helps us return to a state of joy, cheerfulness, and tolerance for those around us.

Are dreams only meant for kids?

Are dreams only meant for kids?

What I mean is, does the act of wishing for your optimum existence, and actively chasing that which would allow you to exist in that world with your eyes wide open, a child’s pursuit?

Once you turn 18, you become an adult in the eyes of society, and definitely that of the law. Whether you get to continue to pursue your dreams beyond that point, often depends on your environment. That usually involves having a support system made up of family, parents, or friends, that are willing to help keep a roof over your head, while you give your all to chasing your ideal situation. It may be that education, sport, or some other talent, has enabled you to sustain yourself beyond high school, while you continue to work towards your goals. But without that, and beyond the years of 18 to 23, if you are not ‘well on your way’ to your envisioned life, career, or goals, are you still supposed to yearn for more than your current existence? Or is the ‘adult’ thing to do, setting aside ‘childish’ hopes and fantasies, to better accept the present?

For many of us, turning eighteen was a wake-up call, complete with the resounding clang of adult responsibilities landing squarely on our teen shoulders. Suddenly, rent, groceries, and work became our day-to-day, while whatever path we desired beyond this, became squarely up to us to make happen. Things got tough, things got real, and we would have to figure it all out on our own, from now on. For those of us that didn’t climb as high as we’d imagined, and who remain dissatisfied with things being ‘as good as it’s going to get,’ once we are no longer in our late teens or early 20s, should we stop yearning for more? Is life easier when you contend with what you have, instead of constantly trying to reach further?

I pose this question because I honestly don’t know what the answer should be. Part of me believes that it varies depending on the person, and part of me wonders if there is a time by which the answer should be the same for all.

I am the dichotomy of someone who categorically refuses to accept what is, while also consistently trying to be like everyone else; aka normal. On one hand, I stubbornly push myself towards what I believe my life should be when it comes to health, self-discipline, and education. I was born chronically ill, and yet I refuse to live a life of disability. Instead, I keep driving myself towards a series of costly short-term solutions health-wise, which cumulatively allow me to increase my quality of life. Rather than, giving into a medically predicted decline in health as years go by. Although, since there isn’t a cure, doing so would have burdened me a lot less, financially.

I spent years not doing much other than working full-time, going to school, and trying to manage the toll doing both was taking on my health. Through it all, I refused to give up on my health, or my education and looking back on that time I’m not sure how I got through it on my own.

But the flip side of this overzealousness is that I don’t generally allow myself free rein to do what I want with my time. I never bet on myself, and invest in my person, and career, the way I have spent my entire adulthood investing in my health and education. And I don’t quite understand why I have such a hard time believing that I have every right to experience personal and professional joy.

Truthfully, I want to cause ripples that will transform myself and hopefully others, whether the scale is big or small. To keep trying to achieve this, I think that I need to fearlessly refuse to stay in situations that would prevent that growth, that change, and those visions of having a life of meaning, from coming true. Although I’m currently struggling to regain clarity, I believe that I need to keep daydreaming for as long as I can, and I just hope that I never reach a junction where dreams do need to make way for maturity.        

What got me through the years spent toiling away in various full-time jobs and working my way through school was my vision of where my career would go. The time sacrificed and debt incurred was meant to grant me the normalcy in my career trajectory that I couldn’t make mine in other parts of my existence. After chasing a dream for most of my lifespan, and spending most days working towards it, it still isn’t my reality. This has left my ideals feeling frayed, and made my perception of what should be, cloudy and unsure.

Maybe because I have been fighting most of my days just to live somewhat normally, I have a slightly off-kilter vision of when things are ‘good enough’. So, I ask, when do you stop trying to change the world with your own presence, and instead start putting that energy into that of the next generation? When does a dissatisfying job, poor career options, or lacklustre relationships simply become some of the disadvantages of living an otherwise responsible and settled existence? Is my never being okay with a lack of growth, respect, love, or valuation, a sign of immaturity? Or is it that the idealistic child that I was, became an idealistic adult that has never stopped wanting to impact the world around her?

                                                            An original blog by:

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Mental Health of Students

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Mental Health of Students

In the aftermath of COVID-19, it has become a top priority to take serious measures and prevent the spread of disease. Schools canceled in-person classes and turned to online learning platforms. However, the new transition was not a seamless process and presented challenges of its own. On a global scale, the mental health of students began to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Those who already dealt with mental health issues found their condition to worsen. That being said, what are the negative effects that COVID-19 had on students’ mental health? 

Social Isolation

Communication is a key contributing factor that enables good connections, fosters strong relationships, and creates effective learning. But with online learning in effect, students experienced feelings of loneliness, depression, and demotivation. They could no longer learn and play alongside their classmates or attend social events, like prom or graduation, with their friends. Those who were enrolled in their first year of university struggled to make new friends or interact with them outside of class. By nature, human beings have always been social creatures that crave human interaction. Without it, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy state of mind. 

Limited Class Engagement and School Pressure

Since classes were no longer being taken in person, there was a limited engagement during online classes. Students usually did not receive adequate feedback when they asked for help or raised questions about the course content.  Soon, they were left with no choice but to learn on their own. Children faced a hard time when they were being assisted by family members who had limited knowledge of the subject at hand. Many students experienced an increase in schoolwork, which elevated their stress and anxiety levels. Those who were caregivers to their family members had to find a balance between their school and personal life. Not only can this affect their academic performance, but also take a toll on their mental health.

“Zoom” Fatigue

Over the course of their academic life, students have grown accustomed to a traditional classroom setting; one in which they attend classes throughout the day, communicate with their teachers and peers, have recess or lunch breaks and participate in extracurricular activities. Now, they no longer have the same routine that provided structure to their lives. Instead, it has become replaced with sitting behind a screen for what felt like an endless about of time. This can lead students to feel fatigued because they have to process a huge amount of information,  while also being exposed to a lot of screen time. As a result of this, their attention levels become hampered and they are left feeling mentally drained.

Lack of Employment Opportunities 

COVID-19 has caused serious drawbacks for the economy and job market. It has been a very difficult time period for youth who are looking for financial independence or work experience but have not successfully found employment. Some of them were laid off from work at the time of the pandemic or their job application processes were put on hold due to social distancing restrictions. University students were burdened with financial stress. Many lost their jobs and worried about paying tuition or rent or supporting their family members.

How Can Students’ Mental Health Be Improved?

In order to have a healthy mind, it is necessary to have a healthy body as well. One of the steps that students can take towards improving their mental wellbeing is by practicing a healthy lifestyle. This can include eating well, staying hydrated, sleeping on time, and having physical activity. Breaks should be taken as well, whether that be in the form of quick walks, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Students also need to learn how to prioritize themselves more through doing things that they genuinely enjoy such as, video chatting with friends, reading outside, or discovering new hobbies. Those who are dealing with a financial crisis should be given special aid,  including financial support or further assistance in finding employment. Lastly, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to invest in doing more research on mental health to educate teachers and empathize with students. Students deserve to be given full access to better mental health resources, including both online and in-person counseling that is available at all times. If these measures are actively taken, an overall improvement in the mental health of students can surely be seen over time.

Smiling on the Outside, Sad on the Inside? Try Agrimony Bach flower remedy!

Smiling on the Outside, Sad on the Inside? Try Agrimony Bach flower remedy!

Are you the type of person who always wears a smile despite being unhappy on the inside? The kind of person who never appears morose, moody, upset, sad or angry, but is actually all of those things and more on the inside? Is it always raining on the inside but sunny on the outside as far as your demeanor is concerned? Well, you may just be an Agrimony kind of person that requires Agrimony Bach flower remedy for all your suppressed worries and anxieties!

People who need the Bach flower remedy Agrimony are inwardly troubled by fear, sadness, worry, anxiety and a host of other negative emotions. They worry excessively about their illness, finances, or problems with their work and personal life, but they ALWAYS present a cheerful and carefree face to the outside world and never reveal their misery and pain through the spoken word or through their body language.

Agrimony people are generally quite sensitive folk and desire peace and harmony in their own lives as well as in the lives of others, so they go out of their way to be kind to others, and even make sacrifices for them. Because they spread cheerfulness and joy no matter where they go, and at the same time downplay their own problems in their lives, they’re very popular people and loved by one and all. Unfortunately, despite all the love they may receive from friends and strangers alike, they are not very happy and content on the inside! That is because Agrimony people not only hide their negative feelings from the world, they actually hide those feelings from themselves. It is just who they are by nature, and it is very hard for anyone to make the Agrimony person speak of or reveal their inner tribulations.

When Agrimony folk are alone and left to their own devices, all their suppressed worry, anxieties and negative feelings rise to the surface and causes them mental turmoil. Because of this, they avoid being alone and throw themselves into all kinds of activities that keep them busy – parties, social work, volunteering – anything that keeps them busy and avoid their own inner thoughts and feelings. That person you see working for every charitable group in the community may be sorely in need of Agrimony because he or she is trying to escape his own inner misery. Agrimony folk also bounce from one organization to another, because they are easily distracted and have little staying power.

Because Agrimony people fear confronting their own inner feelings, they quite often turn to alcohol or drugs to drown their sorrows and avoid any sort of contemplative thought. Many a folk who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are usually Agrimony type of people. Luckily, the Bach flower remedy Agrimony can bring this person back into balance and enable him or her to constructively reflect on their inner problems.

Unbeknownst to most Agrimony people themselves, the tendency toward an Agrimony personality often begins in childhood. Children who have been taught by their elders not to show their distress, to suppress their feelings and to always to observe proper social conventions are especially at risk of developing into Agrimony personalities. When these children go through normal childhood stages of loneliness and sadness, Agrimony will help them communicate more easily.

Agrimony is the Bach flower essence indicated for the release of inner tensions, anxieties and other hidden emotions that have been suppressed for too long. It also provides relief to people who are suffering from extreme anxiety disorders and even PTSD, in which unpleasant memories have been suppressed and buried. Agrimony helps to restore a cheerful disposition and increases confidence in those who take it. After treatment, the person will finally feel safe in facing both sides of his or her personality and openly discussing life’s problems with ease.