Author: Elly

Understanding Your Insomnia and What to Do About It

My first experience of insomnia was in college, and it was terrible. When you can’t sleep, it feels like a loss of control. You feel betrayed by a body that won’t take what it badly needs. I had no idea that I could survive on so little sleep, and no idea how to make it better. That is, until I did some research, tried out what I found, and made progress in tackling my insomnia. The first and most important question to ask yourself about your insomnia is where it might be coming from. Keep reading for different possible causes, and what to do about it. Is it Related to Mental Health? If insomnia has recently flared up, ask yourself what else has changed during that time. Have you become more stressed? Has your mental health been suffering? Anxiety, depression, and a variety of other psychological concerns can contribute to difficulty sleeping at night. If this is something you’re wondering about, perhaps now is the time to seek out psychotherapy. Finding a licensed psychologist, mental …

Hearts in Christ: Where Are You Anchored?

As we sail through life’s trials and victories, we are ever prone to the realization that it feels good to invest our worth in places other than our God. Our work, a relationship, others’ perceptions of us, all promise us joy, security, and future. We fill our heart’s throne (the place Lord was meant to live) with little trophies of what we’ve won in life: what we own, what we’ve accomplished, signs that we are admired by those we wished to please. We set sail with our treasures and we set these trophies–our heart’s anchors–down in turbulent seas. We congratulate ourselves for our ability to finesse the waters. How clever, how wonderful must we be to have beaten the odds! But even more, we think we will be safe here. We fail to notice crashing waves, unforgiving rocks, and menacing creatures down below. As we sleep, these rocks and waves pull relentlessly at cords tying ship to anchor, and heart to desire. And when those cords inevitably, painfully snap, we are left reeling, off balance, …

How to Help a Loved One Who Struggles with Depression

Many of us who try to educate ourselves in mental health/psychology have experienced that feeling of helplessness when someone we love is suffering with clinical levels of a disorder. When we see someone in pain, often times, our first instincts are to try to “fix the problem,” do something to make it better, or say the perfect thing to help. A lot of times, these efforts don’t have their intended impact. This post is dedicated to those of us who want to help our loved ones with depression, but aren’t sure where to start. First Things First: Understanding Depression While we all experience sadness, hard days, and times when we feel down, depression is something over and above just ‘having a hard time.’ This is an essential thing to understand about depression: if you don’t have it, you probably don’t understand. I am sure you’ve all seen the check list of possible symptoms of depression, so I won’t bother by listing what a quick google search can tell you. What the DSM-V doesn’t explicitly say …

Three Basic Psychological Needs and How to Meet Them: Part 1

Scientists, philosophers, and psychologists alike agree that human beings’ experience is some combination of genetic traits and environmental influences. (Sorry, folks, I am not about to settle the nature vs. nurture debate for you… But, if you want to impress your friends at your next get-together, throw out the word “epigenetics,” nod, and give them your most knowing look.) Philosophical narratives aside, science has spoken to the immeasurable impact our environments have on our behavior. Think of it this way: from the moment you were conceived, your environment (which, at the time was your mother’s womb) was already impacting your development. Did your mother use substances while pregnant with you? Was she under a lot of stress? Then you were born. Did you have older siblings, younger siblings, or were you an only child? How frequently and in what way did your parents discipline you? Were you easily able to make friends in school? As you got older, were you allowed to make your own decisions? How did your family respond when you made mistakes? …

Chocolate’s Not for Dogs: When God says, “No”

My dog, Maple, is a really, really smart dog. But the thing is, the smartest dog in the world is still not as smart as me. Why? Obviously because I’m a genius. But also because I’m a human being, and my brain is much more complex and developed than hers. I bring this up because right now, as I type this, I am eating some chocolate and my dog is begging for me to share. But, as any good dog-mom knows, chocolate is not for dogs. In fact, chocolate is poisonous for dogs. Little Maple has no idea: all the data her senses are giving her say that it would be a great idea to have some. However, despite the pleasing aroma and the joy she would get from chomping down on my candy, it would hurt her badly. I know this, and because I love her, I won’t let her have any. Do you know where this is going? I’m hoping you do, because if not, you probably think this post is about the …

Ice Cream and the Zodiac: How to Read Articles Like a Researcher

As a researcher myself, I tend to be skeptical of online/media voices that cite surprising statistical findings. Despite even the best intentions, sometimes people who lack training in research methods and statistics can accidentally misrepresent findings. One misleading headline later, the general public is terrified that everything in their fridge will give them cancer. Talk about lost in translation. How we read and interpret what we find online can really change the way we lives our lives. It can impact what foods we choose to put in our bodies, ways we try to support our physical/mental health, etc. So, it’s immensely important for us to discern whether the facts are being misrepresented. To illustrate my point, I’ll use a study which found that elevated ice cream sales were linked to higher incidences of homicide. Let’s pretend this article caught the attention of an eager journalist who then published the following: “Ice-Cold Killers: Dessert Consumption Causes Homicidal Rampage!” This definitely puts a different spin on the “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” …

Series Introduction: Faith

For me, I view my faith as intimately related to every other area of my life, but particularly to my emotional well-being. I think there is something in us that longs for our Creator; the grace and peace He offers us is uniquely satisfying to souls that thirst for the love only He can give. Though I believe these truths with my whole heart, I fail so often to live my life in a way that reflects the extent of the grace I’ve been given. I consistently struggle with forgetting my worth in Christ, who I am in Him, and how deeply I am loved. To fill the void, I try to find worth in other places, which inevitably leave me wanting. Thankfully, my God is patient and unceasingly kind. He waits for me to remember Him, and loves me like I never left. I am writing this series as a reminder to myself, and maybe to you too, that I want my words and deeds to reflect the kindness I’ve received; that I want …