Health and Well-being

Whether you are living with Tourette Syndrome yourself or caring for someone with Tourette Syndrome it is important to take care of your overall well-being.

Regular exercise, healthy eating, your mental health and a good night’s sleep are important for everyone and even more so when it comes to managing the tics caused by Tourette Syndrome.

EXERCISE

Exercise can be both a distraction from tics and also a good way to release excess energy. Some people even find that playing a sport they enjoy provides temporary respite from their tics because they are using both their mind and the body to focus on the activity.

HEALTHY EATING

Tics can also feed off excess sugar and highly processed, artificially coloured foods or drinks. Use common sense when it comes to meals and snacks but also remember to allow treats occasionally so that managing the tics does not seem like a punishment.

GOOD SLEEP

The physical nature of tics can prevent a good night’s sleep. However many people report that the use of a weighted blanket or the use of melatonin can aid relaxation and ultimately a good night’s sleep.

What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket provides pressure and sensory input for individuals with a variety of disorders. It can be used as a calming tool or for sleep. A weighted blanket looks like a quilt however the squares are filled with weighted poly pellets. The pressure of the blanket provides proprioceptive input to the brain and releases a hormone called serotonin which is a calming chemical in the body.

Weighted blankets come in various sizes however they can be expensive to buy. If you are handy with a sewing machine here is a tutorial on how to make a weighted blanket at home. www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Weighted-Blanket

What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. It can be beneficial for those who have trouble falling and staying asleep.

Very small amounts of melatonin can be found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables, however most people use it in a supplement format. Prescriptions for melatonin need to be sought from your GP. It is safe to use for children as well as adults.

MENTAL HEALTH

Maintaining your mental health is just as important as a healthy body. Sometimes taking time out for yourself or taking a walk in the fresh air can produce feel-good hormones that lift periods of frustration or depression.

If you do notice symptoms of depression it is important to visit your GP for help – whether it be for yourself or a child living with Tourette Syndrome.

There are also excellent resources available online from the Mental Health Foundation at mentalhealth.org.nz. For children, the highly recommended website sparx.org.nz uses an online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland to help young people learn skills to counteract depression, anxiety and stress.

If you need someone to talk to or advice over the phone there are many options to choose from including:

  • Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions)
  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Anxiety phone line – 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz
  • What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm)
  • Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) aimed at children up to 14 years of age; 4pm to 6pm weekdays