Brain Health and Mental Health

Two years ago, I attended a seminar conducted by Dr. Daniel Amen a psychiatrist, brain image specialist and author, who focuses on brain health.  Because there is an increasing body of current research connecting nutrition to mental health, I have decided to reprint this blog with the addition of more information.  Here is some of the more relevant information and suggestions that Dr. Amen shared regarding brain health, which invariably affects our mental health and well-being. The brain is the control center of the body and is involved in everything we do.  The brain is too often neglected in both
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Mindfulness in a Teeny, Tiny Nutshell

Mindfulness. A word that is tossed around a lot these days. But what does it really mean? In a teeny, tiny nutshell, it means to be in contact with the present moment, to be present with only one thing at a time. But how do we do it? Practice. Mindfulness takes practice like anything else. Mindfulness practice should be intentional.  “I am intentionally going to practice mindfulness.” Mindfulness practice should be free from judgement; objective. Don’t judge yourself or your thoughts. Just be present, notice. And when you do notice your judgments, don’t judge yourself for judging. Just be present.
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Are You a Perfectionist?

Are you  a perfectionist?  This is a question that I often ask my clients.  As a therapist it is not uncommon to have a client present with perfectionistic tendencies. In fact, perfectionism can be a strong factor in anxiety and depression. Having perfectionistic habits can also be maladaptive and become quite debilitating. Here is a quick quiz taken from the book Escape Anxiety: 8 Steps to Freedom Through Meditative Therapies by Suzanne Jessee. Do you find yourself procrastinating because you get so worried about doing something perfectly that you have a hard time getting started? When you look at your
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Guide to communication with family

One key element of a healthy family relationship is communication. The quality of great human relationships largely depends on how we talk to one another.  Our tone of voice, cadence and volume, non-verbal gestures and motives are important aspects that we are often unaware of. We should feel comfortable sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings among the people we love however many families have generational patterns of poor communication. Communication in families is important so that each member respects each other’s needs and wants.  In families with poor communication they tend to lack respect for each other, engage in arguments more often,
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What to Expect from Psychotherapy: The Initial Session

When you go to a physician, you probably know what to expect: your vital signs will be taken by a nurse, you will wait on the exam table, perhaps changing into a gown, and then the doctor will come in, ask you questions about your health, and physically examine you. Most people have had this experience many times since childhood and know exactly what to expect. When they make an appointment with a psychologist or other therapist, however, many people have no idea what to expect. They are usually coming in at a time that is already quite difficult and
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The Importance of Positive Support in Coping with Stress

For many people battling with stress, the fight can often feel like a very lonely struggle.  The anxiety and depression that result from struggles at work and in our personal life cause us to feel isolated from others and forget that there are people around us who can help.  These people are our support system, and their presence is vital to reducing stress and helping us maintain a general sense of sanity in our worlds. The purpose of having a positive support system is to ensure that we are not forced to cope with the pressures of stress alone- they
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Do you have low self- esteem?

Have you ever avoided certain situations and experiences due to fear of what people may think of you? Or does the thought of what other people think of you send you into a flood of anxious thoughts? If either of those questions are a yes for you, you may have low self- esteem. Self -esteem, which is how one feels about one’s self,  affects almost every aspect of one’s life especially mental health. So as a therapist it is quite common to encounter clients with low self- esteem, though that’s not usually why they come in for therapy. Often times
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The Platinum Rule to Reduce Stress

The Golden Rule– We all know it. Most of us have grown up with it. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Or, more commonly, “Treat others how you want to be treated”. It’s a pretty simple concept. If you want to be loved, love others. If you want to be accepted, accept others. If you want patience bestowed upon you, be patient with others. If you want to be cared for, care for others. If you want to be forgiven, forgive others.    However, this rule can only account for so much. While we may
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Disagree Better: Avoiding Conflict to Reduce Stress

Some of the most common causes of stress living in a social world are the disagreements that we can have with others throughout the day.  Whether it is with a spouse, a coworker, a family member, or a child, disagreements are a natural part of communicating our individual opinions.  Stress enters into this world when disagreements turn into fights.  As our conversations decline to conflict, most of us feel the anxiety that comes from having to defend ourselves and the anger that often accompanies it.  We can avoid these feelings if we learn to disagree better! In order to avoid
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Meditation Followed by Aerobic Exercise Reduces Depressive Symptoms

I recently stumbled upon a brief article that offers a evidence of how aerobic exercise helps to reduce depressive symptoms.  Take a look…Thirty minutes of meditation followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a week significantly decreased depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder, according to a study in the online Translational Psychiatry. “The effects were robust, as evident by the nearly 40% reduction in depressive symptoms after only 8 weeks of training,” wrote researchers from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. “Interestingly, individuals without a clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder also reported significant reductions in depressive symptoms.” The study investigated
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