Showing posts with label mental health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental health. Show all posts

Monday, May 16, 2016

Five Ways to Stay Mentally Healthy

May is Mental Health Month, so we’re sharing five things you can do to improve your brain health, some of which may surprise you!

1. Connect with others in your community 

Having strong relationships with the people around you will enrich your life. People who maintain relationships with their families, friends, neighbors, and others in their community benefit from a stronger support system, which lowers stress and helps us to keep things in perspective.

Volunteering your time for a cause or issue that you care about is a wonderful way to give back to your community, meet new people, and also boost your mood. For volunteer ideas, you may consider checking out online resources including, or reaching out to your local United Way.

2. Pump up your gray matter with meditation 

A 2015 study conducted by a Harvard affiliated research team found solid evidence that meditation can actually transform your brain’s gray matter, sustaining a positive and relaxed state. They found that daily meditative mindfulness exercises resulted in two positive benefits:
  • Boosts in gray matter density in the part of the brain that increases self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
  • Decreases in gray matter density in the areas of the brain associated with anxiety and stress. 

3. Eat your way to mental health

It turns out that what (and even when) you eat can positively, or negatively, influence your brain health. For example:
  • Certain fats are healthy for your brain, helping you maintain a happy state. UCLA's Brain Research Institute determined that the Omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as salmon, walnuts, and kiwi fruit not only enhance memory but also reduce depression, schizophrenia, and dementia.
  • Another study determined that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, etc.) can improve your mental functioning. 
  • Research shows that foods with beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, can decrease inflammation, which in turn positively affects your mood and cognition.
  • Dark chocolate’s antioxidants increase blood flow to the brain, which aids both mood and memory.
  • Studies also show that the curcumin in turmeric can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, ADHD, and autism. And a 2004 study showed that the smell of cinnamon can boost brain activity. Nutmeg is often used to reduce fatigue and stress. 

4. Remain positive! a According to neuroscience research, engaging in negative thoughts causes the brain to be hardwired for chronic negativity. Complaining -- an offshoot of anger that leads to anxiety and stress -- compromises our immune systems, upsets hormonal balance, and makes us susceptible to stroke and heart disease. And our complaining words negatively influence the brain chemistry of those around us.

5. Aromatherapy: smell your way to brain healtha

Research suggests that some fragrances may have a clinically significant effect on your mood. For example, one study found that roasted coffee bean aroma resulted in stress relaxation in rat brains. Another study found that the scent of orange oil decreased anxiety in dental patients and reduced reliance on antidepressant medications.

This information should not to be considered medical advice, so first consult with your physician before considering any new health regimen. And if your doctor prescribes medicines, don’t forget that you can significantly reduce the cost of your prescription with the free FamilyWize card

Thursday, October 10, 2013

World Mental Health Day 2013

World Mental Healthy Day is October 10.  The goal of this designated day is to raise awareness of mental health, also known as behavioral health. While the specific focus for 2013 is older adults, mental illness can affect anyone, at any age.

World Mental Health Day

What is mental health?

Also known as behavioral health, mental health is a complex component of health that encompasses your mood, thinking and behavior.  Mental health has an impact on your day-to-day functioning, as well as work, activities and relationships.

Mental illness statistics:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health,

  • Mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease
  • 25% of American adults (18+) and 13% of American children (8-15) are diagnosed with mental illness during a given year
  • Major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are among the U.S.’s top 10 leading causes of disability
  • 8 out of 10 individuals suffering from mental illness return to normal activities after receiving proper treatment

Types of mental illness:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Addictive behaviors

Experts agree that even more important than knowing the different types of mental illnesses is recognizing warning signs, which are crucial to early diagnosis and proper treatment.

Warning signs of mental illness or episode:

  • Social withdrawal or loss of interest in others
  • Noticeable decline in performance at work or school
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Changes in sleep patterns or personal hygiene
  • Heightened sensitivity to the senses--sight, sound, smell or touch
  • Unusual sense of power or abilities
  • Mood swings
  • Suspicious feelings

According to the professionals at, a combination of these symptoms and their negative impact on daily activity might indicate an underlying mental illness.

Is a nervous breakdown a sign of mental illness?

An episode usually caused by extreme stress, a nervous breakdown creates a psychiatric response in an individual. It may indicate underlying mental illness.

What should you do if someone threatens suicide?

  • Take the threat seriously
  • Get help
  • Act quickly
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Visit for suicide prevention information.

Can mental illness be prevented?

Because behavioral health is contributed to a variety of factors, including social, demographic, psychological and biological, experts believe it can’t be prevented. However, awareness and early detection can be key in preventing major episodes and hospitalization.

What factors may be helpful in maintaining good mental health?

  • Stress management
  • An overall healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a healthy diet
  • Socialization
  • Engaging in hobbies, sports or activities you enjoy
  • Maintaining medication schedule, if applicable

According to a study in Britain, findings support the idea that those eating a healthy diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer from depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Why don’t individuals suffering from mental illness get help?

  • May not be aware help is needed
  • Might be concerned about stigma attached to mental illness
  • Concern about taking medications
  • View their condition as a sign of weakness

Behavioral health is a vital aspect of enjoying overall good health. World Mental Health Day provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of mental health with your family.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer