Sleep....Why is it so hard?

May 01, 2020

Sleep, a basic human need, an activity that comes so easily to people when they are infants, and children can become very complicated as we grow older.


Sleep disturbances, particularly insomnia - are highly prevalent those with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. At the same time, not getting enough, quality sleep can worsen the symptoms of mental illnesses and increase stress levels.


So what can we do to sleep better?


There are things you can do to help your sleep:


1) If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD or have experienced trauma, seek the help of a therapist to treat the cause of the problem. Remember, sleep disturbance is a symptom and not the cause.


2) If ruminating about past stressful events and worrying about future events keep you up, see number 1 in this list and also, write your worries down before sleep and promise yourself that you will deal with them tomorrow, during the daytime.


3) keep a regular schedule: try to wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day, your brain, your body and sleep habits will thank you!


4) No electronics at least an hour before sleep: If you use your phone as an alarm clock or to listen to audio, switch it to the night mode to reduce the light your eyes get exposed to.


5) Create a sleep routine to tell your brain when you are ready to fall sleep. For example, when your sleep time alarm goes off, a) change to PJs, b) write up your worries and put them away, c) brush + floss your teeth, d) do a mindfulness activity.


5) Eliminate light and sound exposure by wearing an eye mask and earplugs.  

Therapy in the times of COVID 19

April 27, 2020

Since the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, life has changed in so many ways that it is hard to imagine it going back to what we considered normal before this crisis.


I wonder if any of us thought we could last more than a day at home or more than a month without travelling, and yet somehow, we learned to adapt to what we needed to do to survive.


As a therapist, I always treasured the honour of the one of one, human connection in this profession, to sit with my clients and help them heal and watch them walk out feeling better.


When health authorities suggested social isolation, I knew I would continue to help clients, but I was apprehensive about providing therapy virtually. After all, we often see clients experience their raw emotions during our sessions and show them we are there for them, with our body language, tone of our voice and, of course, handing them the box of tissues. I worried that virtual sessions would lack the therapeutic intimacy and emotional substance. But we had to make this work since not providing mental health care was definitely not an option.


I also thought about what it would be like for my clients to see me in my home office. Therapists’ lives often are kept a mystery from clients and doing online therapy from my home office could distract clients from their sessions.


Preparing for my first e-therapy sessions, I had a look at my home office from the clients’ view; chose a video-friendly corner of the room with lots of light, ensured it was private and plugged in a noise-cancelling machine outside the room, but I also allowed myself to maintain some aspects of myself in the area that my clients would see. I left my running medal rack in the space, kept my favourite teapot filled with warm tea at my desk throughout the day, and if clients heard my neighbours’ children play in my alleyway, I simply explained what it was and moved on with the sessions.


It has been six weeks now since I started doing e-therapy from my home office, and some of my clients love it so much, that they say they never want to go back to commuting to the office for therapy. For me, it has been a beautiful journey of healing and self-discovery while helping clients. I have learned that I can treat clients in-person or virtually and that compassion and competence work in either environment, but I also know that I like to have both options, as there are times that distance maybe too much and that clients need the human connection in the same space. When the time comes, I will be there for them.