August is National Wellness Month


August is National Wellness Month. This is the first of five weekly blogs to promote wellness toward mental health. We are all mind, body, and spirit and when we proactively care for any and all of these areas, the others are positively impacted. So, in the spirit of caring for your whole self, enjoy these helpful tips to promote wellness and health.


SLEEP – Do you get enough?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends the following:


Age Group


Recommended Hours of Sleep1,2


4-12 months

12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)


1-2 years

11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)


3-5 years

10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

School Age

6-12 years

9-12 hours per 24 hours


13-18 years

8-10 hours per 24 hours


18-60 years

7 or more hours per night


“If you can actually…build your sleep routine, that actually will support all kinds of resilience, mental resilience, physical resilience, immune resilience… So you can actually perform at your highest level.”

- Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer of Nox Health, neuroscientist, and sleep performance director for the U.S. Olympic team.

1. Simplify your routine: Create a bedtime for yourself that offers you at least 8 hours to sleep and set an alarm to remind you. Slow down 30-45 minutes before sleep by practicing a simple calming behavior such as meditation, reading, stretching or anything that helps you "settle.”

2. Use your own biology to your advantage: A cool core improves sleep. Lower your body temperature before sleep by taking a warm shower or bath, then rapidly cooling your body in the air. Activate your parasympathetic nervous system to fall asleep faster using meditative "belly" breathing exercises before sleep.

3. Eliminate before you add: Reduce the amount of technology, devices and non-sleep-related objects in your sleep space. View your sleep space as a sleep sanctuary where nothing's allowed in that's not for sleep. The same thing goes for sleep aids or supplements. Don't add anything until you've eliminated light, noise, heat, bed discomfort or objects that stimulate wakefulness.

4. Include sleep as part of your training: Sleep is the basis for your performance the next day, whether you're a weightlifter, student or CEO. Think about your sleep as the beginning of tomorrow, rather than the end of today. [highlight added by CR – I love this!]

5. Be mindful of your own sleep habits and patterns: Sleep is not a monolith. The duration and timing of your sleep are inter-dependent variables that you can control. Sleep quality may not be in your control all the time. If giving yourself enough time to sleep with a regular routine does not help you feel rested, you should seek some professional advice from a sleep physician.

Full article originally published HERE: 

 Other Good Resources to review and explore:

CDC website on Sleep

National Sleep Foundation 

Q: Can what you eat and drink affect your mental health

A: "This may sound implausible to you, but the notion that good bacteria not only influence what your gut digests and absorbs, but that they also affect the degree of inflammation throughout your body, as well as your mood and energy level, is gaining traction among researchers." - Harvard Health



Did you know excess caffeine can trigger panic attacks for people who experience anxiety?

  Animated GIFTry to: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 liters) to prevent dehydration. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes. Limit caffeine if you have an anxiety disorder. If you feel like you need some caffeine, try tea. Tea has lower amounts of caffeine than coffee and has lots of antioxidants-chemicals found in plants that protect body tissues and prevent cell damage.


Did you know that eating a regular intake of high-fat dairy, and fried, refined and sugary foods can significantly increase your risk of depression?

Animated GIF

Try to: Eat a diet that relies on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fats (like olive oil). People who follow this kind of diet are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than people who eat lots of meat and dairy products. 

Tips For The Grocery Store 

  • Try to concentrate your shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods are, rather than in the center aisles where foods like chips, cookies and candy can be tempting. 
  • If fresh veggies tend to expire before you get a chance to eat them, buy frozen ones instead. Stores carry an assortment of steam-in-bag vegetables that keep well in the freezer and cook in the microwave in a matter of minutes. 
  • Choose whole grain pastas, breads, cereals, granola bars and snacks instead of those made with white flour. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, which promotes digestive health, and also provide folate (or folic acid). 


Mind Wellness Support from Nutrients

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Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9) 

Increased intake of folate is associated with a lower risk of depression.4 

Vitamin D 

Rates of depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin DLack of Vitamin D is thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression that commonly starts in the fall, lasts through winter and subsides in the sunnier spring and summer months. 

Most foods do not naturally have Vitamin D, but many are “Vitamin D fortified.” Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most naturally occurring Vitamin D. Other foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals have Vitamin D added. 

Our bodies also produce Vitamin D as a result of being in the sun. Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure twice a week generally produces enough Vitamin D, with lighter-skinned people requiring less time than those with darker skin. Time in the sun beyond the suggested amounts above requires use of sunscreen to prevent skin damage and reduce risk of skin cancer. Vitamin D supplements may be used in fall and winter months. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Some studies suggest that omega-3s may be helpful in the treatment of depression and seem to have a mood-stabilizing effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids may also help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and help young people with ADHD. 

Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) are the most highly recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the American Heart Association suggests eating these types of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flax (or flaxseed oil), olive oil, fresh basil and dark green leafy vegetables. 

**Modified from full article at Mental Health America 

Additional resource:
Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food - Harvard Health/Harvard Medical School

What Happens to the Body During Exercise?


  • Exercise pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity may help bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. [CR- Endorphins are analgesics that also help reduce pain signals.] Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, any aerobic activity, such as a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike, can contribute to this same feeling. 
  • It reduces negative effects of stress. Exercise can provide stress relief for your body while imitating effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response, and helping your body and its systems practice working together through those effects. This can also lead to positive effects in your body—including your cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems—by helping protect your body from harmful effects of stress.
  • It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball, a long walk or run, or several laps in the pool, you may often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you stay calm, clear and focused in everything you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, improve your mood, help you relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Full article: Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress (Mayo Clinic)


 Increase Your Social Wellness!

Humans are known to be social creatures, and one reason for this is because it is beneficial for survival. For example, together we can fight off an intruder (whether man or beast), OR while one member of the group hunts for food, another protects the children. However, pragmatics are not the only reason social wellbeing is important.  

Social isolation. loneliness, and lack of positive social interactions can negatively impact our physical, emotional, and mental health regardless of whether or not a threat or intruder is present. Research shows that loneliness and isolation negatively impact our quality and quantity of life.

Instinctually, the stress (fight or flight) response is activated when we spend too much time alone. The isolated person may tend to be more diligent to keep watch and be safe, which triggers an increase in stress hormones like cortisol. Even people who value spending time alone benefit from positive connections with others (even if they may prefer shorter durations of time or smaller groups).   


Friendship, laughter, good conversation, and other meaningful and positive supportive connections with people (and pets) increases happiness chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins. 



  1. Set aside time every week to spend with an important relationship in your life.
  2. Validate and support another's feelings, hopes and dreams.
  3. Accept others for who they are. Be supportive by focusing on the positives in a relationship or situation.
  4. When necessary, take responsibility for your part in any breakdown in a relationship.
  5. Show appreciation in verbal and nonverbal ways.
  6. Avoid jumping to conclusions. Instead be open and curious about the other’s perspective. Try to get a full understanding of the whole picture.
  7. Treat your relationships with healthy boundaries (mutual give and take).
  8. Have a healthy sense of competition. Be happy with the successes of others.

(Adapted from 

How do I meet people? Practical tips:

  • If you are a dog owner, walk your pet every day in a public place where there are other people out and about.
  • Join a gym or an exercise group. Exercising with others provides a good icebreaker for conversation.
  • Volunteering is a great way to meet others who share your same passions.
  • Find an interest group that meets regularly and works on their hobbies.
  • Go back to school or take a class.
  • Attend a house of worship. Connecting with God through prayer, worship, and other spiritual relationships nourish us too.