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Wellness

Sleep Apps for Your Phone

If you have trouble turning off your brain when you try to go to sleep at night, perhaps an app on your phone could help you.  Helpline.com lists a number of different apps for iPhone and Android phones.  Some apps have soothing sounds. Others guide you through a short meditation. Another one can track your sleep cycles and adjust your alarm time so you are awakened during a light phase of your sleep, rather than when you are in a deep sleep. Helpline does not endorse any of the apps, but there are ratings on the website for each app. Prices range from free to $4.99. For some people it helps to talk with a counselor, who is an objective person with, perhaps, a different perspective to help you sort out all those thoughts in your head. The EAP offers short term, free counseling to employees and their family members.  For more information call 410.328.5860 to set up an appointment, or email us through this website.

Good Mood Foods

In the January 14, 2014 Washington Post, author Maya Dangerfield writes about food that can boost your mood. She states, “Researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified 10 nutrients that can combat depression and boost mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and zinc. Her article goes on to identify which foods you should eat to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need to boost serotonin and other neurotransmitters the body relies on to help maintain a positive outlook on life.  Consult with your doctor or nutritionist for more information for your body.  Also, feel free to make an appointment in the EAP for help with talking through some of the issues in your life that are weighing you down.

Having Trouble Relaxing?

This might be the right tool for you!

One of our senior counselors, Cheryl Confer, recently attended a workshop on Coherent Breathing. This is a simple breathing practice that is designed to reduce stress and anxiety and create a relaxed state of mind and body.  It is based on a scientific principle of regulating the body’s autonomic nervous system responsible for our feelings of calm and relaxation.  If you are interested in learning about this practice, you are invited to schedule an appointment with Cheryl at the EAP.

Assistance for Care Givers

Regina Curran, who is a Geriatric Care Manager, came to the EAP and presented information to employees about what professionals in her area can do to help families who have an elderly relative or friend for whom they are caring.  She explained that they also help families with young or disabled children who need resources, especially with Mental Health resources.  Sometimes families also need a Home Health Aid. The Care Manger can help a family get connected to one.

All in all, a Care Manger can help you in many arenas. Their website is www.midatlanticgcm.org. On it is stated, “A Geriatric Care Manager specializes in assisting older people and their families with long-term care arrangements. We can help you meet the challenges of long distance care giving, put together a comprehensive plan for present or future needs, provide extra assistance for relocation, or monitor your relative during your vacation.”

A Geriatric Care Manager will meet with the family and do an assessment, which generally takes 2 hours.  Then, they can help the family put resources in place.  However, a Geriatric Care Manager can also just consult with a family and give suggestions or recommendations.  They can help educate families about what programs are available for additional services. They can be helpful to families whose loved one lives in Maryland, but can also help with long distance cases.

An interesting book for Care Givers to read is “The 36-Hour Day.”  One interesting caveat Regina shared is that Care Givers often don’t take care of themselves like they should.  Often, a Care Giver will pass away before the person they are caring for because of neglecting their own health.  So, self-care is important to all. Contact the EAP to find out the myriad of possibilities for people to take care of themselves.  Your loved one will thank you for it!!

Sad During the Winter?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, during the fall and winter when there is less exposure to sunlight.  Sunlight triggers the production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood, among other things.  Many people have found that supplementation with Vitamin D can help.  Talk with your doctor to see if this might be a good strategy for you.

Stress Can Interfere with Sleep

How Can I Sleep Better?

Stress often interferes with sleep, which then can make the next day more difficult to manage.  If this continues, it can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, and forgetfulness.  Many anti-depressants are effective because they help people sleep better.

Some people want to try natural ways to increase sleep and then boost mood.  First, take an inventory of your current habits.  Are you ingesting too much caffeine or drinking it too late in the day? Try decreasing coffee, tea, chocolate, and stop all caffeinated products by 2:00 p.m. Cigarettes, although initially relaxing for the smoker, are stimulants and add to sleep problems. Exercise is great to help people sleep better, but don’t do vigorous exercise late in the day or right before bed. Gentle stretching or a long walk late at night is better to help people sleep.  Alcohol helps people  feel sleepy but it interferes with the deepest phases of sleep and causes frequent nighttime awakenings. Do you have a medical problem such as back pain, or a thyroid disorder that may interfere with sleep?  Or, is the medication you’re taking hampering sleep? Try a little meditation or yoga and see if that helps you.  For more information, or to talk with someone about the issues that are bothering you or worrying you, call the EAP at 410.328.5860. Sometimes, having an objective person help you look at things differently can help decrease stress.  Sweet dreams!

How can Neurofeedback Help Me?

Neurofeedback helps YOUR brain work more efficiently

During a neurofeedback session, saline soaked electrodes will be placed on your head so that the frequencies of your brain can be read by the neurofeedback machine.  You will hear a sound when your brain is doing the right thing.  As you hear more sounds, your brain will be training itself.  You don’t have to DO anything.  Just sit and listen.  If you suffer from anxiety, your brain will learn to be calm; if you can’t focus, your brain will learn to concentrate better; if you have trouble sleeping, or have chronic pain, neurofeedback can help with all of that and more.  For more information, contact Maureen McCarren, Senior EAP counselor, at mmccarre@som.umaryland.edu or 667.214.1555.

Aging Gracefully

How to Maintain Brain Health

As we age, we need to exercise our brains in various ways to keep them sharp.  Some ways to do that are:

  • Exercise -especially aerobic exercise such as running, walking, playing basketball, dancing, hiking, swimming, and tennis.
  • Eat right-vegetables, fruits, protein and be sure to drink enough water. Stay away from anything white-sugar, white rice, white potatoes. Remember, the darker the color, the more nutrients in the fruit or vegetable. For instance, eat more blueberries and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Challenge your brain to work in novel ways-take a different route to work, learn something new on the computer, learn a new language (no matter how long it takes you!) start a new hobby or craft, take a class, use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, learn how to play a musical instrument, etc.
  • Explore new places or cultures; try different food and possibly learn how to make it.
  • Surround yourself with stimulating people and situations, go to museums, concerts, sporting events, etc.