Tag Archives: brain function

Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month, and we’re talking about some important mental health issues facing Americans all week.

Being exposed to violence or trauma as a kid can have long-term effects, from derailing development to increased mental and physical issues. Long or repeated stress can be toxic for kids, especially if they’re lacking adult support in their lives.

Childhood Trauma

 

Adverse childhood experiences can include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, community violence, household addiction, parents divorcing, poverty, and bullying. Know the signs to help the children in your life.

Signs of Childhood Problems

 

Taking care of your mental health in college is especially important. 1 in 5 young adults experience a mental health condition, and 75% of those begin by 24 with many emerging in the college years.

Mental health issues affect students’ success at college. College can be difficult and isolating, and 45% have felt that things were hopeless at some point. Over 45% of those who stop attending could benefit from mental health support.

Support in College During Isolation

 

Only 1 in 3 of the people who need mental health help actually seek it out, even though treatments for the most common conditions are effective 80% of the time. It’s also the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Mental Health and Work

 

In the wake of the opioid crisis, it’s important to understand how it affects mental health. Over time, addiction changes brain function, inhibiting a person’s ability to control substance use.

Brain Function and Opioids

 

Long-term use of opioids can cause a chronic brain disorder, which causes problems with the brain reward system, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Encourage loved ones to see a doctor to explore treatment center options.

Recovering from Addiction
Using Your Brainpower

Boost Your Brainpower

Challenging yourself mentally raises your brainpower and function, which is shown to reduce the risk of mental decline and dementia in old age. What can you do to keep your brain in amazing shape?

Never Stop Learning

Learning new things in school or classes, at work, and in your spare time all help you challenge your mind, no matter what your age.

As we get older, we get comfortable doing the things we’ve always done. But your brain will benefit from tackling something new. Learning keeps life stimulating, especially during retirement.

Community colleges and park districts offer a variety of courses that allow you to interact with others while challenging your mind. You can try a new sport, learn a new language, take up painting, or learn a skill you’ve always been interested in picking up.

Activities that use your hands, like woodworking, sign language, or knitting, are also great because focusing on your hand-eye coordination works multiple parts of your brain.

Not only will it help you stay sharp, you’ll also feel accomplished. Never stop challenging yourself to learn new things!

Memorize

Learn a new word a day, take up local theater where you learn a small part, learn your favorite poem by heart, or learn all the words to your latest favorite song. Writing things down as you go can also help. This careful listening and learning can help you sharpen your thinking.

Get Involved

Volunteering with a local organization offers you the chance to interact with others, which also stimulates your brain. You can meet new people who are both working and being helped in the community.

Help your church, local library, animal shelter, or even a branch of a larger organization like the Alzheimer’s Association to meet people, work events, and even get active with 5ks.

Eat Antioxidants

Foods like blueberries and dark chocolate are full of antioxidants, which help fight age-related diseases. They can also help delay or prevent cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

And they’re delicious! Win-win!

Get Moving

Dancing with a partner or in a group may be one of the best physical activities you can do that is also good for your mind. When you dance the salsa, a waltz, or even the electric slide, your brain whirls to keep up with the steps, all while you interact with others around you. Dancing is also shown to help slow the progress of dementia.

Try Something New

Break out of your routine and see something new, like an art show. Taking pictures for social media, writing about it, and making scrapbooks to show your family and friends are all great ways to train your brain to remember the details about your new experience too.

There are many brain games on the market you can try to stay sharp. Lumosity is one online tool you can try, for a fee. You can also try more traditional methods, like chess, sudoku, or puzzles. While they’re not proven to fight dementia, they can help you maintain critical thinking skills.