Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"HELP! Am I ruining Christmas?"


A friend of mine sent me a note, with a suggestion I talk about this here because it’s such a common problem.

"HELP! Am I ruining Christmas?"
"HELP! Am I ruining Christmas?"

Ellen,

I have always spent every holiday with my family. This year, I’m not going back for Christmas.

I’ve run out of leave and so I can’t take any extra days. Also, work has been hell and I’m just exhausted.

Instead of flying home, I’m staying in town and driving twenty minutes to my fiancĂ©e’s family for a quiet dinner.

Mum said she understands but I have this awful guilty feeling. Am I ruining Christmas?


Okay, you know your circumstances are dictating a very sensible decision and your mum agrees, so where’s the guilt coming from?

I suspect that this is a stress reaction inspired by change. You’ve always gone home and now you’re not. That’s a little unsettling. Also, you’re tired and that tends to lead to gloomy thoughts where you perceive things in the most negative way possible.

I think you need to step back and look at the big picture. Before this, you were a single lady and going home was natural. Now you’re engaged, your life’s changing. This is the start of the holiday juggle; the bit where you and your future husband will plan to see both your families over the year’s holidays.

I think a chat with mum, something along the lines of, “I’ll be getting married soon, and I’m dreading having to parcel out our holiday time” will help. She had to do the same and can probably give you some sensible advice. Communicate openly, and you’ll feel a lot better.

Also, do consider that Chinese New Year is coming up in six weeks time and that both Wesak and Gawai fall over a long weekends as well. So, there are plenty of holidays coming up. 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Is there a connection between sleep quality and mood for new mums?

Hi there, here's my latest venture in YouTubing. If you prefer the read, the text is below.


A new study in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine in July this year looked into the connection between sleep quality and post-natal depression and anxiety. As it wasn't reported in the mass media, I thought you might be interested.

The importance of a good night's sleep is only common sense. The thing is, sometimes common sense proves to be wrong. So, it's sensible to run scientific studies, just to see what's what.

For this one, researchers from 4 universities in the US interviewed 116 ladies who'd given birth six months earlier. They assessed them for depression and for anxiety. They also asked an awful lot of questions about factors that might be important such as their age, their employment status and so on.

When they adjusted for all the differences, the numbers showed that there is a clear link between poor sleep and depression and anxiety symptoms.

What does it mean?

We know from other studies mood problems can make it hard for mums and babies to bond. That's a problem because good strong bonds are important for healthy development. 

Now, other studies show that postnatal depression and anxiety are quite common. Roughly one in ten mummies get to one or the other. If you're unlucky, you get both.

So, when doctors talk to new mums, this new study tells us that the conversation needs to include a chat about sleep quality. Mums who are okay but who aren't sleeping well need to be given a heads-up that it may lead to mood issues. Because forewarned is forearmed.

As for new mums who report having mood issues, we're saying, focusing on sleep quality should be part of the package.  That means talking to a mental health professional about cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques like visualisation and other systems that can help improve sleep quality.

The study is by no means perfect, no study ever is, but it's nicely structured and thoughtful, so I think it's worth checking out. I've left a link to the journal article below and in the video description.

Poor sleep quality increases symptoms of depression and anxiety in postpartum women
https://cds.psych.ucla.edu/documents/Okun2018_Article_PoorSleepQualityIncreasesSympt.pdf

And if you want to check out visualisation, check out my related videos on my YouTube channel
Introduction to Visualisation on YouTube
Relaxing Beach Visualisation on YouTube
Or my blog post that includes the transcript

I hope you found this useful. Do leave a comment to share your thoughts. Also, please, if you are hit by post-natal depression or anxiety, get help, okay? Don't just suffer, reach out. Also, get some quality sleep.