Friday, July 6, 2018

Guest Post: Can Self-Employment Benefit People with Mental Illness?

Is your mental health interfering with your 

Conditions like depression and anxiety 
make it hard to show up to a job day 
after day and give it your all — not to 
mention dealing with office politics and 
other workplace stressors. 

Rather than going through the motions 
and letting your mental health suffer, 
consider branching out into the world of 

The rise of the gig economy has made self-employment possible for countless people. 
No longer do you have to launch your own full-fledged business to be self-employed. 
Between apps that let customers hire on-demand services to websites that connect 
freelancers with paying clients, it’s easier than ever to make money without signing up 
for an office job.

The flexibility of self-employment offers enormous benefit to people with mental illnesses. 
Mental illnesses make it difficult to adhere to rigid office schedules — and when you do 
show up despite feeling unwell, it’s impossible to give it your all. According to Inc, 
absenteeism and presenteeism due to mental illness cost U.S. businesses an estimated 
$225.8 billion per year. Workers in the gig economy, on the other hand, can set their own 
hours so they can work when they’re feeling most capable and productive.

While not for everyone, working solo can be an ideal scenario for people with social anxiety. 
In a self-employment scenario, you control when and how you interact with others. That’s a 
big shift from an office setting where coworkers drop in on a whim, managers peer over your 
shoulder, and office politics reign supreme. While few people can (or should) escape inter-
acting with others entirely, working independently gives you time and space to craft cogent 
messages and rehearse interactions.

Of course, there’s also the benefit of not working a job that feels like drudgery day in and 
day out. Whether you have a preexisting condition or not, spending 40 hours per week doing 
something you dislike isn’t doing your mental health any favors. By striking out on your own, 
you can pursue an interest or schedule paying work in a way that accommodates unpaid pursuits.

Despite the benefits, working in the gig economy isn’t for everyone. Running your own business 
requires specific traits: you must be self-motivated so you can set and meet deadlines without a 
supervisor pressuring you — because while you may have a flexible schedule, you only get paid 
if the work gets done. You have to present yourself well and interact confidently with clients and 
fellow business owners, because branding and networking are key to business success. You need 
to be a natural problem solver; when you work alone, it’s up to you to fix any and every problem 
that arises. And you must be orderly and regimented, because if you can’t follow up on invoices, 
keep the books, and pay your taxes, you won’t last long in business. If you feel you may fall 
short on any of the above, find and pay someone trustworthy to handle this for you. 

If you don’t have these essential traits, self-employment may not be the path for you. However, 
that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in 9-to-5 drudgery until the day you retire. An increasing number 
of companies are offering flexibility to employees. Flexible workplaces include perks like 
working from home, flexible work hours, compressed workweeks, and generous paid time off. 
Even if an employer doesn’t offer these benefits as standard, workers may be able to request 
flexible working accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if they 
have a diagnosed psychiatric disability. Learn more about workplace accommodations for 
mental health conditions at ADA National Network.

For many people with mental illness, self-employment is ripe with opportunity — both for a 
fulfilling career and improved mental health. However, if you don’t have the right personality 
for it, entering the gig economy could do more harm than good to your mental well-being. 
Before you take the leap and strike out on your own, make sure you’re suited for the path ahead.

Image via Unsplash

Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the 
headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. 
After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was 
enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping 
people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his 
self-care journey.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Guest Post: Help for Teens Struggling with the Darkness of Suicidal Thoughts: A Prevention Toolkit

The most common underlying cause of suicidal thoughts is depression – a medical condition that affects millions of people. It’s not a brain defect and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It is simply a condition that, like other medical issues, can be treated and managed through treatment, counseling, and various lifestyle changes. For both boys and girls, depression increases the risk of suicide 12-fold, and can lead to negative coping mechanisms such as substance abuse. In order to get to the heart of thoughts of suicide, it’s important to tackle what’s likely causing them. 

Use this toolkit for helpful resources and tips as you navigate this journey to the top.

Helpful Resources

When you are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, it can make you feel as if all hope is lost. The funk your brain is in is tricking you into thinking you can’t do this, but you can! When your mind is playing games, here are some resources to reach out to:

      Access help 24/7 with the Crisis Text Line.
      Put the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on speed dial.
      Reach out to other teens.
      Browse helpful information at the SPTS website.

      Educate yourself about depression.

Steps to Take If You Are Having Suicidal Thoughts

Stop and Think.

First and foremost, if you’re currently thinking about harming yourself the first thing you should do is take a step back. Commit to at least 24 hours to let your emotions settle. Suicide is permanent, while emotions can be fleeting. Take some time to think. It’s vital that you know that you are not alone. Some of the most admired and accomplished people have been overwhelmed by depression and contemplated ending their life. Rest assured that your depression can be treated, driving away thoughts of suicide and that feeling of hopelessness.

Build Your Network

Do not try to deal with your suicidal thoughts by yourself. Reach out to someone. If you want to talk to someone other than a friend or family member, there are many suicide lifelines out there that will help you any day of the year, any time of the day. Talk with your parents or caregivers about your thoughts. Your biggest ally during this time will be your support network. If you are worried about how they will react, or don’t feel comfortable talking to them, consider using one of these letters and simply sign your name at the bottom.

If you need a number right now, dial 1-800-273-8255.

Get Professional Help

Building your support network is a great start, but depression is a mental illness that is best treated by a professional. They will be able to create the treatment plan that works best for you, and become yet another member of your growing network of support.

Extra Tools to Tackle Your Depression

      Get up and get moving.
      Practice deep breathing and yoga.
      Adopt a service dog.
      Get a good night’s sleep.
      Fuel your body with the proper nutrition.

When it comes to depression and suicide, there is an established link. Untreated depression is a leading cause of suicide attempts and completions. If you are feeling depressed, talk to someone. Seek help from a mental health professional. You are not alone and you can get through this.

Photo Credit:

By Mariah Kaye Williams
Ever since her daughter-in-law was suicidal three years ago, Mariah Williams resolved to fight stressors in her own life and encouraged those she loves to do the same. Mariah now researches and writes daily to promote self-care. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

How Sleep Deprivation Affects You and Your Mental Health

Sleep deprivation can seriously affect all parts of your body - physically and mentally. You weaken your immune system. You can become more vulnerable to respiratory infections.

Sleep deprivation can cause digestive issues that result in weight gain, and possible diabetes issues. Along with weight gain, you are at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Sleep deprivation impairs you mentally with memory issues, cognitive function, moodiness, hallucinations, depression, that can make you more accident prone, and yes, it can even result in accidental death.

NOTE: If you drive or do anything else that can cause injury to you or someone else, it can be devastating. 

According to the Sleep Association Organization, Sleep Deprivation is defined as not getting adequate total sleep.

Even though relatively few studies have been done on total lack of sleep over a long period of time in humans, long term sleep deprivation in lab animals has resulted in death.

What is a Typical Night for You?
  • Fall asleep but wake an hour or so later, check the clock, roll over, try to sleep? Toss and turn, check the clock again? A never ending cycle until the morning alarm sounds?
  • Ready for bed, but when the lights are out, you can't sleep? You toss and turn, dozing fitfully until the morning alarm blares?
  • Working late into the night, ignoring your body's cries for sleep?
    Forcing yourself to stay awake with caffeine-laden beverages? Your body's desires for sleep overcome your desire to stay awake, yet you feel like you didn't sleep at all?
  • Your mind won't stop recycling the day's events, tomorrow's possibilities, or random racing thoughts that won't go away and keep you awake?

What are the Effects of Sleep Deprivation?

If you experience long term sleep deprivation you can begin to hallucinate or trigger a mania episode in those with Bipolar Disorder. Other psychological risks include: impulsive behavior, depression, paranoia and/or suicidal thoughts.

Other affects on your body can include:

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Accidents from Lack of Attention
  • Moodiness
  • Hunger
  • Other Health Dangers such as:
  • Diabetes
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Suppressed Growth Hormones
  • Memory Lapses
  • Depression
  • Weight Gain or Loss

Read this article about how Sleep Deprivation affects your body.

For more information, read Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body

Read this article to learn the 11 Signs You're Sleep Deprived.

Have You Tried These to Help Fall Asleep?
  • Prescription sleep medication?
  • Over-the-Counter sleep medication?
  • A Sound Machine or Room Air Filtration System?
  • Something Herbal like Melatonin? Valerian? Chamomile?
  • Meditation?
  • A warm bath?
  • Reading a book?
  • Playing a game (or six) on your Smart Phone?
  • Tea or Warm Milk?
  • Self-Hypnosis?
  • Letting the TV stay on?
  • Listening to music?
  • Something else not listed here?
Did you know that overuse of some OTC Sleep Medications can actually cause you to get less sleep?

What Can Cause Sleep Deprivation?

  • Sleep Disorders that reduce Sleep Time such as Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, Restless Legs Syndrome, others
  • Poor Sleep Hygiene
  • Sleep Disorders that Interfere with Brain's ability to Stay Awake such as Narcolepsy or Primary Hypersomnia
  • Insufficient Total Sleep Time

Are there Some Positive Ways to Help Eliminate Sleepiness if You Suffer from Sleep Deprivation? From 10 Best Treatments and Cures for Sleep Deprivation

Sleep - Too obvious, right?

ActivityResearch studies have shown that a five-minute walk can improve excessive daytime sleepiness as measured by multiple sleep latency testing (MSLT). Unfortunately, this increased alertness may be a transient benefit that comes and goes rather quickly. 

Bright LightThe exposure to bright light has important effects on your body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a pattern of body functions, including sleep and wakefulness, that is timed to the day-night cycle. There are some conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)and circadian rhythm sleep disorders that are helped by appropriately timed exposure to bright light. In addition, bright light may help you become more alert if you are sleep deprived.

NoiseWhen we hear something, our brain responds by making us slightly more alert. This can be problematic when we have a noisy sleep environment, but it can be helpful if we are trying to stay awake.

TemperatureUnfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that temperature changes do much to improve our alertness and decrease excessive sleepiness. Studies of extreme temperatures (either very hot or very cold) have an effect for only a few minutes. 

PostureSurely it is harder to fall asleep when you are standing up, so posture clearly can have some beneficial effects on sleep deprivation. 

CaffeineAside from simply getting more sleep, the best single treatment for sleep deprivation may be caffeine. This naturally occurring stimulant is found in many common foods and drinks, including coffee, tea, soda pop, energy drinks, and chocolate.

StimulantsAside from caffeine, there are other stimulants available as prescription and over-the-counter drugs that might be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of sleep deprivation.

MotivationYou might consider that you are more likely to stay alert and attentive if you actually care about the activities you are engaged in. A boring lecture or meeting at work may be just the thing to put you right to sleep. However, spending time with your loved ones or pursuing a favored hobby may keep you wide awake, at least in the short term. 

Group Effects - There is some belief among anthropologists that the effects of sleep deprivation may be lessened when they occur in the context of a group. You might imagine that a handful of sleep-deprived people are able to engage one another in ways to maintain alertness.

What are the Treatments for Sleep Deprivation?

Get more sleep!

Easier said than done, right?

The best answer is to treat the cause of the Sleep Deprivation. Is it a sleep disorder? You won't know unless you see a sleep specialist who can diagnose your sleep condition. I suggest if you are experiencing sleep deprivation, you see a sleep specialist immediately. They can rule out other medical issues, find the cause, and treat the real reason for sleep deprivation. Then, you can experience that benefits of adequate sleep and wake refreshed and ready to tackle your day.

Photos Courtesy of Storyblocks