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Wellness

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.