woman with open arms facing ocean after anxiety counseling Empower Counseling Birmingham Alabama

Sleep, nutrition, and social connection for anxiety and depression by Empower Counseling.

Here at Empower Counseling, our skilled and compassionate therapists evaluate all aspects of a client’s life to help our clients reach their goals in therapy. When it comes to mental and physical wellbeing, sleep, nutrition, and social connection are all important components.

Sleep, nutrition, and social connection for anxiety and depression with empower counseling:


If you have read other blogposts by Empower Counseling, you might have heard me reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

When thinking about or discussing the power of sleep, nutrition, and social connection, I would be remiss if I did not refer to Maslow again. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, developed his Hierarchy of Needs to explain human motivation. Maslow explained that individuals must meet their needs on the lowest level of the hierarchy before meeting the next level up. The lowest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is physiological needs. Physiological needs are the biological requirements for human survival. These needs include air, food, water, shelter, clothing, warmth and SLEEP.

If these needs are not at least adequately met, one can not address the next level of need which is safety.

At Empower Counseling, a Birmingham area counseling clinic specializing in ACT counseling for anxiety and depression, we have noticed that most clients who report being highly anxious or very depressed, have disrupted or dysfunctional sleep patterns.

Many important biological processes occur when we sleep. The brain gets rid of toxic waste. The brains stores new information and nerve cells communicate and reorganize to support healthy brain function. The body restores energy, and releases crucial hormones and proteins. All of these processes are vital to mental and physical wellbeing.

The type of therapy we practice at Empower Counseling is Acceptance Commitment Therapy or ACT. ACT is a higher level cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therefore, as a part of your anxiety counseling or counseling for depression, we will evaluate your thoughts and your behaviors to determine what is contributing to your symptoms. Once we determine the contributors to your anxiety or depression (or both), we will not only use tools and processes to help you separate from unhelpful thoughts, we will help you move away from unhealthy habits or behaviors and establish new healthier habits.

Knowing how crucial sleep is to healthy human functioning, we will spend time and effort to change habits that contribute to poor sleep or lack of enough sleep.

Nutrition: You are what you eat

Once again, I point to Maslow’s hierarchy and the fact that food is one of our most basic physiological needs. There is a growing body of research connecting the food we consume to our moods, emotions, and even depression and anxiety. Our brains run on the energy provided by the food we consume. Therefore, our brains are affected positively or negatively by our blood sugar levels, hormone levels and other processes in the body. Eating a diet of mostly whole foods, foods found in nature, like fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed meats, can ward off depression by lifting our moods. Conversely, too much processed food, or junk food, can put your mental health in jeopardy.

Sleep, nutrition, and social connection for anxiety and depression:

Social Connection

As I mentioned, physiological needs is at the base of Maslow’s pyramid. Next is safety. But directly after safety, is the need humans have for connection to other humans and the feeling of belongingness that comes with social connection. So sleep, nutrition, and social connection for anxiety and depression can not be ignored. When we feel connected to other people, we experience lower levels of anxiety and depression. Also, feeling connected to others creates empathy among us, which can lead to stronger relationships across your communities.

Loss of social connection during the Covid pandemic is one reason for the increase in the number of individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. We humans are not meant to be alone all of the time.

We are the sum of our habits. Not having proper sleep habits, poor nutrition, and lack of connection with others greatly contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. At Empower Counseling our team members, Kathryn, Adam and Kristine, care for your complete well being. We understand that many factors contribute to or take away from your mental and physical wellbeing. That is why we evaluate and pay attention to all areas of your life and how you are functioning in those areas. We address the thoughts helping you and the thoughts that are hurting you. We also address the behaviors helping you, and the behaviors hurting you.

If you are ready to move away from anxiety and depression, reach out to Empower Counseling today. We offer counseling for teens, counseling for college students, therapy for young adults and therapy for professionals. We specialize in in-person and online counseling for anxiety and depression.

It is simple to get started. Just email us from the home page and we will do the rest!

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