Q: I've started having trouble sleeping, but don't want to take pills. What else is there?
A: Sleep. It's a cornerstone of our mental health, both a canary in the coal mine when things aren't going well, and a cause of mental distress when it's disrupted.
The first place to start is to ask yourself what keeps me awake and work to address the causes. This might also mean putting worries aside by writing them down, making to-do lists for the next day, or simply getting better at switching off - both ourselves and our devices - from work mode.
When it comes to the habit of sleep, we talk about "sleep hygiene." And no this is not a reminder to wash your sheets more regularly. It's an approach that works to improve the habits around sleep to optimise our chances for rest.
The most common place to start is with our phone and device use - in short: get them out of the bedroom. It's not just the time spent scrolling, but also the light that tends to be right up close to our eyes. Reading a book is best, a TV on the other side of the room isn't as good, but still better than a device right up in your face.
Overall, make sure you take the time to wind down. Try to get to bed at more or less the same time each night, warm baths or showers are good, as are warm non-caffeinated drinks.
Sex - either with another person or on your own, is also reliably sleep-inducing for most.
And even though it can be frustrating, try to be kind to your awake self. Getting stressed and angry with yourself because you're not sleeping is entirely counterproductive.
Work on acceptance. It can be hard - but not impossible - to accept being awake, but if you're really struggling it can be a good idea to get out of bed and do something else - quietly and in a dimly lit room - before trying to go back to bed again.
While riding out sleeplessness can be a real struggle in the short term, it is best to avoid sleeping medications as much as possible. They can be useful in an acute crisis, but by taking them regularly you run the risk of getting out of the habit of being able to get to sleep naturally.
Melatonin supplements are worth trying though if chronic sleeplessness is a problem for you. It's the body's natural hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythm - our sense of when to be awake and when to be asleep - and, for many people, it can be prescribed by your GP.
Q: My four-year-old has started pulling out her hair when she's upset, does she need help?
At this age, it's not necessarily a big concern, although making sure you're talking to her about what sorts of things she's stressed or worried about is a good idea.
Compulsive hair pulling -or "trichotillomania" - is potentially a symptom of anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and is usually a way for people to manage stress through the short-lived, mild pain and distraction it causes. In extreme cases it can be quite debilitating, once it becomes compulsive it can be hard to stop, addictive almost, and can lead to obvious hair loss as the compulsion increases.
But at this age, it's usually something that passes, even more so if you can help your little one find words to talk about the things that may be bothering them, and strategies to help them manage their feelings when they do show up.
It can be a concern if the behaviour re-emerges later, especially in adolescence. But until then, like most things at this age, watch and wait is best.