Raising an adolescent comes with its fair share of challenges, but one of the greatest rewards is their growing ability to comprehend complex thought. 

From the ages of 12-18, children stop seeing the world in “black and white” and begin exploring their own identities, thoughts, and opinions. This is a psychological stage known as cognitive growth, and while it can be a positive period of independence for a teenager, it can also be a time of potential risk. 

This is because the part of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking has not fully developed yet. Although many stereotypes associated with adolescents are very broad and don’t apply to every child, there is actually research to prove that impulsive behavior is normal for growing teens. 

But how do we approach them when their brains literally cannot even understand us? How can we let them make healthy mistakes without putting them at risk? 

Although adults are past the stages of understanding what they’re thinking, empathizing with developing teens can prevent life altering mistakes later on. Here is some advice to help you guide a growing adolescent, especially between the ages of 12-16. 

Encourage a Healthy Home Environment

Teens think and act very differently than younger children, but they will never stop looking up to you as a role model, even if they won’t admit it. Every family dynamic is different, whether you are a single-parent household or consist of a blended partnership. What matters is how you make your home a safe and positive environment.

For example, simply telling your child not to drink alcohol or relying on teachers to do the work for you will not stop them from doing anything. This is not just because they want to rebel, it has everything to do with their psychology. Since they do not know why it is bad for them to drink prematurely, they do not see any reason not to other than a bunch of adults keeping them from doing it. 

Instead of relying on punishments to keep your child from going to parties, make it a safe place to rely on if they make a mistake. They will inevitably do things that neither of you like, but instead of making it a completely negative experience, offer it up as an opportunity to grow with your child. 

If your teen comes home past curfew, save the discipline for later and make it clear that you’re happy they’re home safe. Listen with empathy, practice fair discipline, and be a positive role model. 

Be Honest

As mentioned previously, simply talking to your teen won’t prevent them from trying risky things. However, being authentic about these dangers may stop them from participating in permanently damaging behaviors. 

Have deeply authentic and open conversations about sex, alcohol, and drugs. Be very clear about what can happen if these actions are taken without using it as a fear tactic. 

However, part of honesty is also being clear about your boundaries. Make it very evident that these kinds of behaviors cannot happen in your house, and establish boundaries that they and their friends must respect when under your supervision. 

State the consequences that will follow if they choose not to listen and why they must be set (e.g. when you are leaving this house, you cannot drive with more than one person under the age of 18 because it is against the law, and you may risk someone else’s life as an inexperienced driver). 

While it is out of your control what happens away from your house, you should also encourage your teen to recognize dangerous situations on their own (e.g. I will not get in a car with a drunk driver. If this happens, I will call a trusted guardian). 

However, you can still make it clear what you expect out of your child when they are under your roof, which can greatly prevent them from wanting to engage in risky behavior. 

Be Supportive

Although you may not always be aware of what your teenager is up to, if you set your parental boundaries in an empathetic manner, they may respect you enough to consider your advice.

Mistakes can and will happen. Your teen is human, just like you, which means that they may do things that they regret. However, instead of using it as a way to ridicule them, take these opportunities as a chance to bond. 

The greatest way that you can teach your teenager rational thinking is by allowing them to trust you. This does not mean that you don’t set firm boundaries, but it can include offering your child a safe place to turn to when they know they have made a mistake. 

These crucial years may be hard, but they can also be extremely rewarding. Cherish these memories, teach your child with compassion, and be patient.

Raising an adolescent comes with its fair share of challenges, but one of the greatest rewards is their growing ability to comprehend complex thought. 

From the ages of 12-18, children stop seeing the world in “black and white” and begin exploring their own identities, thoughts, and opinions. This is a psychological stage known as cognitive growth, and while it can be a positive period of independence for a teenager, it can also be a time of potential risk. 

This is because the part of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking has not fully developed yet. Although many stereotypes associated with adolescents are very broad and don’t apply to every child, there is actually research to prove that impulsive behavior is normal for growing teens. 

But how do we approach them when their brains literally cannot even understand us? How can we let them make healthy mistakes without putting them at risk? 

Although adults are past the stages of understanding what they’re thinking, empathizing with developing teens can prevent life altering mistakes later on. Here is some advice to help you guide a growing adolescent, especially between the ages of 12-16. 

Encourage a Healthy Home Environment

Teens think and act very differently than younger children, but they will never stop looking up to you as a role model, even if they won’t admit it. Every family dynamic is different, whether you are a single-parent household or consist of a blended partnership. What matters is how you make your home a safe and positive environment.

For example, simply telling your child not to drink alcohol or relying on teachers to do the work for you will not stop them from doing anything. This is not just because they want to rebel, it has everything to do with their psychology. Since they do not know why it is bad for them to drink prematurely, they do not see any reason not to other than a bunch of adults keeping them from doing it. 

Instead of relying on punishments to keep your child from going to parties, make it a safe place to rely on if they make a mistake. They will inevitably do things that neither of you like, but instead of making it a completely negative experience, offer it up as an opportunity to grow with your child. 

If your teen comes home past curfew, save the discipline for later and make it clear that you’re happy they’re home safe. Listen with empathy, practice fair discipline, and be a positive role model. 

Be Honest

As mentioned previously, simply talking to your teen won’t prevent them from trying risky things. However, being authentic about these dangers may stop them from participating in permanently damaging behaviors. 

Have deeply authentic and open conversations about sex, alcohol, and drugs. Be very clear about what can happen if these actions are taken without using it as a fear tactic. 

However, part of honesty is also being clear about your boundaries. Make it very evident that these kinds of behaviors cannot happen in your house, and establish boundaries that they and their friends must respect when under your supervision. 

State the consequences that will follow if they choose not to listen and why they must be set (e.g. when you are leaving this house, you cannot drive with more than one person under the age of 18 because it is against the law, and you may risk someone else’s life as an inexperienced driver). 

While it is out of your control what happens away from your house, you should also encourage your teen to recognize dangerous situations on their own (e.g. I will not get in a car with a drunk driver. If this happens, I will call a trusted guardian). 

However, you can still make it clear what you expect out of your child when they are under your roof, which can greatly prevent them from wanting to engage in risky behavior. 

Be Supportive

Although you may not always be aware of what your teenager is up to, if you set your parental boundaries in an empathetic manner, they may respect you enough to consider your advice.

Mistakes can and will happen. Your teen is human, just like you, which means that they may do things that they regret. However, instead of using it as a way to ridicule them, take these opportunities as a chance to bond. 

The greatest way that you can teach your teenager rational thinking is by allowing them to trust you. This does not mean that you don’t set firm boundaries, but it can include offering your child a safe place to turn to when they know they have made a mistake. 

These crucial years may be hard, but they can also be extremely rewarding. Cherish these memories, teach your child with compassion, and be patient.

Virtual Counseling Parker Colorado

Although virtual therapy has been around for some time now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and mandated shutdowns, it gained popularity and accessibility in 2020.  Virtual therapy is a type of telemedicine. It includes any treatment that a person seeks through an electronic device.

Virtual therapy is a good option for couples, or family therapy sessions when one or more participants is traveling, schedules and/or geographical distance don’t allow for everyone to be in the same place at the same time. 

Different types of Virtual Therapy Include

Video Conferencing 

Seeing a therapist or practitioner via video conferencing software is the closest thing to receiving therapy or care in person.  Video conferencing allows both therapist and patient to be face to face in real-time without being in the same location.

Mobile App

Many networks are making secure downloadable apps available to access therapy through.  Apps allow clients to easily access their therapist and records at the touch of a screen. 

Phone

Teletherapy has been an option for many clients, long before mandates and shutdowns made them imperative in some cases.  Teletherapy is done over the telephone where the therapist and patient can speak directly to one another. 

Email

Therapy via email helps detail specific instructions, references, and reiterating what was worked on during therapy.  

Benefits of Virtual Therapy

Although many things make in-person therapy great, there are many benefits to seeing a therapist virtually.

Flexibility in scheduling

Scheduling in-person appointments often restrict availability to 9-5 hours.  If patients are tied to their job during those hours, they can have the option of taking the appointment at work or during a lunch break.

Convenience

The convenience of virtual appointments tends to reduce cancellations. Being able to go to an appointment via video chat allows patients and providers freedom to go to appointments regardless of vacations or unexpected trips. 

Commuting

Saving time and money by not having to commute is a huge benefit to virtual therapy.  Patients without reliable transportation can still receive quality therapy without having to worry about how to get there.  Those who do drive save gas money and time sitting in traffic trying to get to therapy. 

Expense

Virtual therapy tends to be less expensive than traditional therapy. Therapists who work from home don’t have the overhead of an office building and staff. 

Comfort

Virtual therapy can ease the fear of running into others at a therapist’s office.  Some marriage and family therapy cases benefit from multiple parties not having to be in the same room at the same time, allowing for a virtual buffer if you will.  Another benefit is being able to go to therapy in the comfort of your own home; potentially making patients feel more at ease in a familiar setting, potentially enhancing vulnerability and disclosure. 

Safety

Now is a great time for virtual therapy. Based on current circumstances, virtual therapy could be the perfect solution during the coronavirus, or any pandemic. There are many benefits to doing this type of therapy:

  • Virtual therapy eliminates the risk of passing infection from therapist to client since it is done without physical contact. Clients complete activities or exercises with the real-time input of a therapist and safely utilize materials and equipment from their environment, instead of shared materials from a clinic.
  • Virtual therapy also offers safe social interaction, which can lead to improved mental health and cognition after being secluded for extended periods. This is especially helpful for those that are at a higher risk and need to limit potential exposure.

Therapy has also proven to be helpful for COVID-19 recovery. Healthcare providers have found that clients hospitalized from COVID-19 are likely to need physical and cognitive rehabilitation to aid in their recovery.

Disadvantages

Although there aren’t many, there are still some potential disadvantages to virtual therapy.  Some of these may include:

Technological Glitches

Technological glitches such as inconsistencies in internet connection, strength, or problems with the video chat platform can cause disruptions and frustration during an appointment. Understandably, frozen screens, echoing, low-resolution video feeds, and dropped calls are not conducive to the therapeutic experience. Internet strength, weather, and other variables all play a role in disruptions, and this is undeniably a con on both sides.

Licensing 

Some states may require that a person using distance therapy be located in the same state in which the therapist is licensed. Depending on the regulations where you live, this could limit your options as either the provider or the person seeking services.

Reputation

In some cases, it may be difficult to tell whether an online therapy service is credible, reputable, or safe to use. This is where it is important to do some research and insist on evidence of proper credentials and HIPAA compliance.

How to Prepare for Virtual Therapy

Before an online therapy session, the therapist and client should connect to ensure that the device being used is set up, and go over details. This will include discussing what space and materials are available for therapy so the therapist can plan accordingly. 

Like in-person therapy sessions, you should expect to have to do some preparation for your appointments. Therapists might send some activities and exercises, video clips, and other resources to review before or after your sessions. Since the sessions are virtual, therapists will also ensure that the meeting is taking place through a HIPAA-compliant video platform to protect your privacy.

However, unlike some in-person sessions, parents and caregivers are encouraged to attend as well. By participating, they can assist with functionality such as keeping the camera focused on the client during exercises. Additionally, they learn activities and exercises to help with carryover into daily routines.

One reason why couples sometimes seek relationship counseling is because each member of the couple feels like they aren’t truly loved. For instance, a woman might be frustrated that her husband doesn’t hug her and brush against her arms as they cook together, while her partner might wish that she would be more verbally positive about his contributions around the house and at work.

Marriage counseling has often revealed that couples sometimes are each trying to express love to each other, but they are missing each other’s signals. It is as if they are speaking different languages. Gary Chapman, in his award-winning book The Five Love Languages, identified that there are at least five ways that people express and receive love:

  • Words of Affirmation – Telling someone they look great or that they have done an amazing job. It can also involve just reminding them out loud how much you care. 
  • Acts of Service – Taking out the trash, putting the kids to bed, or making plans for the weekend can all be ways to serve each other. These things involve doing something that neither of you want to do in order to show how much your partner matters to you.
  • Receiving Gifts – Physical items with a lot of thought behind them can be the way to convey affection: even things like a flower you saw and picked in the garden can be really special to someone with this love language.
  • Quality Time – Putting down that cell phone and having a conversation or doing an activity together that doesn’t have either of you distracted is a good example for quality time. Sometimes nothing has to be happening, but good company is still valuable to someone with this language.
  • Physical Touch – While many people immediately think of sex, which can definitely be a part of this language, it can also include everything from holding hands to hugging. 

When seeking to improve a marriage, it makes sense to learn your partner’s top languages, not only which ones make you feel most loved or which one you tend to use to communicate.

If, for instance, you love your alone time but your partner needs quality time to feel loved, these languages give you a good reason to set aside special time for dates and speaking to each other one-on-one.

Working to convey how much you care in the way your partner most understands can put you on a path to relationship success. Want more information on making your marriage the best it can be? Contact us today.

Living with anxiety can be daunting, but you can empower yourself with self-help strategies to ease anxiety symptoms. The right approach to self-help and anxiety therapy, you can manage your anxiety and live with freedom and happiness.

Here are 5 scientifically proven self-care tips to help you cope with anxiety in day-to-day life.

Maintain healthy diet and exercise

Eating well and exercising regularly keeps you healthy – not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends aerobic exercise for anti-anxiety effects through elevated endorphins and stress-relieving effects. Adding just ten minutes of exercise into your everyday routine can reduce anxiety symptoms and help you go through the rest of your day with calm and clarity.

Find hobbies and activities you enjoy

A creative hobby can give you an outlet for expression. Having a hobby or activity you enjoy will give you a focus for anxious energy as well as a way to find fulfillment and contentment when you develop new skills or achieve a personal goal.

This can be anything from gardening to yoga to writing fiction – an activity to stimulate and provide a personal source of happiness and fulfillment. 

Practice mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness exercises have a number of empirically proven psychological benefits and can help you cope with situations of heightened anxiety, as well as reduce anxiety symptoms over time.

The American Psychological Association promotes mindfulness practice for reducing rumination and stress, which can improve anxiety in daily life. Taking some time to yourself in your day for a brief meditative moment can help reduce depressive and anxious feelings.

Reach out to your personal support network

You don’t have to manage your anxiety alone. A strong social support network can help you manage stress and anxiety.

Work on strengthening your social support network as a self-help resource.

Seek anxiety therapy

In addition to your personal support network, you can also seek the services of an anxiety counseling professional. Anxiety counseling can assist you with developing self-care methods to use in your everyday life.

If you are seeking anxiety therapy in Parker, Counseling Services of Parker can help you identify the cause of your anxiety, and work side by side with you to cope and thrive in everyday life. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you.

Whether you’ve been having relationship issues or have merely been too busy to spend much time together, most couples find themselves feeling disconnected at some point. This feeling of disconnection may feel like it’s a sign of major trouble, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple and effective ways that you can reconnect with your partner. Read on to learn seven ways to feel closer to your partner quickly. 

Take Care of Yourself

It might seem counterintuitive at first. But taking care of yourself is one of the most effective ways to reconnect with your partner because it encourages you to find happiness within yourself first. By finding your own satisfaction, you ease any pressure on the relationship, or your partner, to provide that for you. This makes it easier for you to simply enjoy spending time together with no expectations. 

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming thing, either. It can be as simple as doing something like laughing out loud

Keep Communication Open

It’s easy to fall into a routine of talking about superficial things, especially if there are problems in the relationship. It feels easier and safer to limit conversation to things like what’s for dinner or how their workday was. 

Take a few minutes each day to have a deeper, more intimate discussion with your partner. Ask about their hopes and dreams, goals for the future, or other topics that are more personal. 

If you need to discuss a difficult topic, do so. Just remember to be kind and fight fair

Look for Small Things

When a couple is having problems, it becomes all too easy to focus on the problems rather than the good things. The issues can become so large that they seem to swallow up the good. Relationship counseling may be required to truly solve the problems, but you can still do something right now to feel a connection to your partner. 

Look for active, small ways to improve your relationship today. 

Use Humor and Laughter

When life is stressful, it’s easy to let the tension build without relief. Whether it’s work, home, or something else, find ways to use humor and laughter to ease tension for each of you personally and the relationship as a whole. 

Watch a sitcom together, or share a joke you see on social media. It doesn’t have to be a huge gut buster, just a laugh that the two of you share. 

Send a Random Loving Text

It doesn’t have to be every day, nor should it be multiple times a day. But every now and then, when you think of your partner while you’re apart, shoot a quick text to let them know. 

It can be as simple as “Thinking of you. Love you!” or as deep as “I appreciate that you …” The point is to let your partner know that you’re thinking of them in a good way and open up some communication. 

Schedule Regular Date Nights

It might feel great to get out of the house and do something outside your routine. It might feel awkward. But regular (at least bi-monthly) date nights are a great way to reconnect with your partner. It allows time to focus on just the two of you. It gets you out of the routine of daily life that has left you feeling disconnected in the first place. 

Do something fun and unusual, not just the typical dinner and movie. Try laser tag, kayaking, or taking salsa dancing lessons together. 

Use the Power of Touch

Sometimes the easiest and simplest way to reconnect with your partner is through a physical connection. Holding hands, an arm around the shoulders or waist, a simple kiss on the top of the head or a brush of the hand across a cheek can all convey love, appreciation, and connection. Particularly in times of stress or difficulty, a simple physical connection can be a powerful way to reestablish your connection. 

Whether you’re having trouble or want to prevent trouble, relationship or marriage counseling can help you resolve or prevent problems before they get out of hand. Contact us today for an appointment and take the first step toward a better relationship.

5waystoahappieryou-300x233 Anxiety Counseling: 5 Ways to a Happier YouThe best way to fight anxiety is to be happy. Sounds easy, right? Maybe not? Wouldn’t it be great if happiness was something that just happened? Of course, that is what we all want. Counseling Services of Parker Colorado specializes in anxiety counseling. We know a lot about anxiety therapy, and anxiety treatment – and we found happiness takes a big part in treating anxiety. We want to wake up every morning with a smile on our face, ready to jump out of bed and see what the day has to offer. However, that isn’t reality. Too often, we get wrapped up in the everyday cycle of going through the motions. Some people may even be afraid of happiness.  Happiness is attainable! It might take some work, but you can find it. Happiness is a state-of-mind. More importantly, it is a choice. You need to work at it at it just like anything else in your life. Look at it like you are having a relationship or friendship with yourself. If you are married or in a relationship you work at loving that other person, you do things to show them you care and to see them smile, right? So why shouldn’t you do that for yourself. Show yourself that you care. By focusing on certain areas of your life that are meaningful to you, you can find happiness. Here are five ways to a happier you:

1.  Exercise Right

Exercise is a natural source of energy. Simply exercising for twenty minutes a day, three days a week will dramatically improve a person’s vitality. Exercise releases dopamine and adrenaline, which help us to feel better. Remember you have to work at it! It takes six weeks to build a habit. Challenge yourself to find twenty minutes three days a week for six weeks. This can be done in combination with breathing exercises to really maximize the impact.

2.  Enjoy Now

Many of us always think about the future or get stuck in the past. Instead of always anticipating what is going to happen or ruminating on the past, we need to take time to be in the present.  Practice the art of mindfulness. Take time to appreciate where you are and how far you have come.

3.  Make Life Fun

Too often we are caught up in the everyday life we forget what it is like to simply have fun. So what is fun for you? Take an opportunity each week to indulge in something you find fun. It simply may be going to the park and having lunch. You may want to join a recreational sports league or a book club. You can also try rewarding yourself in small ways daily. Treat yourself at the end of a long day! Whatever it is, it must be what YOU enjoy to do. If this seems challenging, you may want to think about anxiety counseling.

4.  Be Generous

Giving and making other people happy increase our own happiness. By serving others, we get our minds off of ourselves and focused on those in need. Find time to volunteer or to help friends or family. There are many articles about anxiety counseling and anxiety treatment which show that generosity leads to happiness. happiness. Random acts of kindness are always good for you and your soul!

5.  Laugh Out Loud

Humor is the best medicine. Laughter has positive effects on the body. It boosts immunity and lowers blood pressure. It takes five positive thoughts to counteract one negative thought, so surround yourself with positive energy. Far too often, people take themselves too seriously. Take time to smile and laugh at yourself.

These are just five ways to begin finding your happy state-of-mind. It takes time and a continual investment in yourself to be content. Investing in yourself is as important as investing in others. Take the time to exercise, enjoy the moment, have fun, give time to others, and laugh at yourself to begin finding YOUR happiness.

**For other resources on happiness, check out The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin as well as Shawn Achor’s TED talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M.

How many times have you heard “just breathe” or “it will all be ok” when you are experiencing a panic attack or elevated level of anxiety? While it is nice to hear these ideas, it can also be frustrating because we know this. We know we should just breathe or tell ourselves it will all be ok, but that is not the problem.

The problem is not that we don’t know this, the problem is in how our brain processes the current situation. In these moments we may be feeling out of control or unsafe. So, we tend to move into fight or flight mode and our anxiety continues to increase.

Also, in these moments our brain and body are typically not in alignment with one another. So, how to we help our brain process what we are experiencing as it is and keep our brain and body aligned? Through coping skills, such as grounding.

As mentioned in previous blogs, anxiety is all about control. The ides behind grounding is it can help us stay present in the moment and be in control of our current situation. Also, what is great about grounding is you can use it anywhere! If you are in public, people won’t even notice what you are doing.

Grounding involves using the five senses. The next time you begin to feel out of control and your anxiety increase, try this:

  1. Stop wherever you are (If you are driving, pull over to a safe place on the side of the road)
  2. Look around
  3. Silently or aloud name five things you can see
  4. Name four things you can touch
  5. Name three things you can hear
  6. Name two things you can smell
  7. Name one thing you can taste

Again, the idea is to keep you present and in the moment. I do like to add deep breathing while completing the grounding technique. To do this, you will take a deep breathe in through your nose, hold for a short-time, and breathe out through your mouth while going through the five senses.

If you would like to learn more about grounding or other coping skills for anxiety, please contact me. I can help you find the techniques that best work for you.

Do you ever feel your anxiety increase during the holidays? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. While the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, for many it brings higher levels of anxiety.

Why is this you might ask? Anxiety is all about control. When we feel out of control, anxiety begins to increase. Where will I spend the holidays? What should I wear to the party? Will people like me? Where will I be sleeping? Will our family get along this year? Will people like the gifts I get them? What if I can’t leave when I want to? Do any of these thoughts or type of thoughts sound familiar?

It is normal to worry much of the time when living with anxiety. We worry because we do not have control over the outcome of such events. Most of the time our perceived outcome of an event is very much out of proportion with what will actually happen. So how do I stop my constant worry from always reaching worst-case scenario?

Well, the first step is to acknowledge what is happening. You might be wondering if this is how everyone thinks? The answer to that is no. People without anxiety don’t get caught up in the never-ending loop of worry. The reason for this is because their brains process these thoughts naturally. While those who live with anxiety have to do this process “manually”. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your brain. It is just different, and you will just have to learn how to move these thoughts through a process.

First is to acknowledge it. Second, ask yourself “what do I have control over right now?” The answer to this question is you only have control over you. Instead of trying to control the outcome of an event, the goal is to be able to control the anxiety so you are able to handle the event. Finally, learn what coping skills work for you. For example, deep breathing is something you can do wherever you are. Take a breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold for a count of four, and breathe out through your mouth for a count of four. Do this for a minimum of ten times. Find a positive affirmation that works for you, such as “I can handle this”, to repeat to yourself while you breathe.

You may be saying to yourself, “this sounds really nice, but it’s just not that easy.” You are right, it’s not easy, it takes work. There is no cure for anxiety, but you can learn how to manage your anxiety and live a happy and fulfilling life through anxiety treatment at Counseling Services of Parker. You can learn how to control your anxiety instead of allowing your anxiety control you.

I can help you understand where your anxiety comes from, learn what your triggers are, and how to manage your anxiety. To set up a time please fill out the form on my website or call me @ 720-507-1907.

sleep-225x300 Anxiety & Sleep AppsIts hard to find an individual struggling with anxiety who can fall asleep as their heads hit the pillows. Anxious thoughts often visit us at night and steal away our sleep and rest – which is why a new sleep app hopes to lend some aid. I haven’t tried this app myself, but it might be a resource worth trying!

“New research aimed at helping people get to sleep will be highlighted at an upcoming international sleep conference this week.

Dr. Luc Beaudoin, an adjunct professor in cognitive science and education at Simon Fraser University in Canada created the mySleepButton® app two years ago. It uses what he calls a “cognitive shuffle,” or Serial Diverse Imagining (SDI), a method that essentially “scrambles” one’s thoughts and keeps the mind off issues that may prevent sleep.

 “A racing mind, worries, and uncontrollable thoughts are common bedtime complaints among poor sleepers,” Beaudoin notes.

Beaudoin will present his research at a joint meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

Beaudoin and colleagues tested the method among 154 university students who complained of excessive cognitive pre-sleep arousal. The study employed SDI tasks, which occur at bedtime, and also used a standard treatment of structured problem solving (SP), which is done prior to bedtime and takes about 15 minutes.

The researchers found SDI to be as effective in reducing pre-sleep arousal, sleep effort, and poor sleep quality, with the added advantage of being done while in bed.

However SDI is not without its challenges. “The human brain is a ‘meaning maker’ or a sense-making machine,” said Beaudoin.

“It is actually very difficult for people to conjure up random images unaided. However according to my theory, while it may be difficult to engage in SDI, it is not only a consequence of sleep onset; SDI facilitates it.”

While one solution is Beaudoin’s app, he has also invented a “do-it-yourself” version of SDI. The technique provides a sequence of letters that cue a series of relatively unrelated words, which could potentially be customized to individuals.

“My hope is that popular culture will absorb the notion that counting sheep is not effective, whereas SDI is,” said Beaudoin.”

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