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Monday, May 11, 2015

The Healthy Brain

Most of us would like to experience mental sharpness and emotional balance. You can get closer to this goal by incorporating habits that will have a positive impact on your brain. A healthy diet, exercise, and proper sleep are certainly important to the overall functioning of the body and particularly the brain. Reducing and addressing risk factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, will be helpful to ward off conditions such as stroke/ brain attack. From a neuropsychological perspective, there are a few other variables to consider to maintain a healthy brain.

Rhonda Freeman, PhD Licensed Psychologist

RelaxationTake the time to calm and relax the brain- the goal is to reduce stress. There are many ways this can be done, such as via meditation and/ or yoga. You can learn relaxation strategies to meet your needs via the assistance of a psychologist, therapist, books, or various online resources.
Exercise the Brain: Engage in activities that challenge thinking. Scientific literature suggests that exercises for the brain can improve cognition. Give consideration to tasks that will require that you exert some mental effort as you participate, rather than mental activities that are ‘quick and easy’ for you. Seniors benefit from cognitive exercises as well.
Social Environment: Positive social experiences provide the best environment for our brain.  Exposure to certain populations of people (e.g., personality disordered, bullies, abusers, the highly critical, etc) can be harmful to our emotional well being, as such exposure can shift our brain into survivor mode (flight/fight/ freeze). It is difficult to fully experience joy, love, and trust within such an environment.
Address Emotional Issues: Give your emotional and psychological health the same level of attention that would be given to a physical condition. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, addictions and other such conditions have a deleterious impact on one’s life, which could possibly lead to physical problems in the future.  If you have psychological symptoms seek diagnosis and treatment with a professional.
Emotional Intelligence Quotient: Emotional IQ is associated with one’s ability to not only be aware of, utilize, regulate, and understand your own emotional status, but also to detect, understand, and relate to the emotional status of another in a nonmanipulative/nondeceptive prosocial manner. (There are other components and variations to this definition. For a review of this concept, refer to the works of Drs. Daniel Goleman, Paul Salovey, and John Mayer). Emotional IQ is vitally important as it directly impacts our social relationships, determines our ability to relate to one another and have successful relationships. High cognitive intelligence (the traditional IQ test results) does not necessarily indicate one has a high Emotional IQ. Hence, an individual can be successful occupationally and highly intelligent (“smart”), however have extremely poor moral reasoning, minimal empathy, and deceptive behavior (low emotional intelligence).

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