Category Archives: Mental Health

Straight, No Chaser: Learning the Risks and Signs of Abusive Head Trauma

shaken baby syndrome never_shake_bear

This part of the conversation is not about spanking. It’s not even about abuse. It’s about learning who is most likely to cause harm to your child, intended or not, and what places your child most at risk. This Straight, No Chaser takes an additional look at Abusive Head Trauma (AHT)/Shaken Baby Syndrome and provides you with information to better understand the risks and the signs that your child may be suffering.

Abusive head trauma is 100% preventable but not predictable. You’d do well to heighten your sensitivity about what places a child at risk for this most devastating consequence of child abuse, and you’d do very well to understand the connection of risk for AHT to stress. Finding ways to alleviate the parent or caregiver’s stress at the critical moments when a baby is crying will significantly reduce the risk to a child. You must develop the discipline not to strike a child when you’re angry – in any part of the body. Parents and other caregivers should be aware of their own behaviors that may feed into punitive activities that can injure a child. It’s important to tell any and everyone caring for a baby or young child to never shake him or her.

SBS Statistics

Beyond the key component of a caretaker’s inability to manage their own stress, the following list includes conditions and situations that have been shown to increase the risk of a child being exposed to AHT. That said, anyone has the potential to harm a baby if he or she isn’t able to handle stressful situations well, has poor impulse control, or has a tendency toward aggressive behavior.

shaken baby physicalabuse

  • Children with special needs
  • Children with multiple siblings
  • Children with conditions that promote crying, like colic or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, reflux)
  • Boys are more likely to be victims of AHT than girls.
  • Children whose families live at or below the poverty level are at an increased risk for AHT and other components of child abuse.
  • The perpetrators in about 70% of cases are males, typically either the baby’s father or the mother’s boyfriend. These males are often someone in their early twenties.
  • Substance abuse often plays a role in AHT.

Shaken baby head trauma

Unfortunately, children don’t always exhibit definitive symptoms. Sometimes this is the case because they aren’t brought in for evaluation immediately after, or perhaps the history given to the physician didn’t include the components of shaking or other activities. Children may look normal after an abusive episode and may not have problems noticed until they enter the school system. At this time, it is significantly more difficult to trace the symptoms back to a single causative episode of abuse. It is much more likely that the child’s intelligence level will be interpreted as being “what it is.” Please don’t ever deem that a child’s head injury is insignificant or fail to obtain a medical clearance evaluation after any injury. Alternatively, different types of interactions with a child such as bouncing a baby on a knee or tossing the baby up in the air will not cause these injuries.

shaken baby child abuse

Here are the symptoms of AHT. Of course, ongoing and/or severe episodes can increase the severity of symptoms. Mild symptoms include the following:

  • altered consciousness
  • an inability to lift the head
  • an inability to focus the eyes or track movement
  • blue color (due to lack of oxygen)
  • decreased appetite
  • difficulty breathing
  • irritability
  • lessened or lack of smiling and verbalizing/vocalizing
  • lethargy
  • poor sucking or swallowing
  • rigidity
  • seizures
  • unequal pupil size
  • vomiting

More severe immediate injuries may include the following:

  • brain swelling
  • bruises around the head, neck, or chest
  • hemorrhages in the retinas of the eyes
  • rib and long bone (bones in the arms and legs) fractures
  • skull fractures
  • subdural hematomas (blood collections pressing on the surface of the brain)

SHAKEN BABY 1

Recall that 1 in 4 cases of AHT results in death. Even when death doesn’t occur, other long-term effects may include the following:

  • cerebral palsy
  • developmental delays
  • hearing loss
  • impaired intellect
  • partial or total blindness
  • problems with memory and attention
  • seizures
  • severe mental retardation
  • speech and learning difficulties

What makes AHT so devastating is that it often involves a total brain injury in a developing brain, meaning there will be incredibly widespread manifestations. For example, a child whose vision is severely impaired won’t be able to learn through observation, which decreases the child’s overall ability to learn. The development of language, vision, balance, and motor coordination, are particularly likely to be affected in any child who has AHT.

The irony of AHT is you’ve seen many cases of it in your casual activities. You simply haven’t associated those cases with a child having been abused. Consider thinking proactively, learn to adjust your stress and the way you interact with children in times of discipline to minimize the risks. Their developing brains will thank you.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Mental Health, Pediatrics/Kids Health, Public Health, Trauma

Straight, No Chaser: The Emotional Signs of Child Abuse

child-abuse report

In a previous Straight, No Chaser, we provided a pictorial demonstration of the physical signs of child abuse. Unfortunately for many, the emotional signs are even more dangerous. It’s important for you to be able to recognize the subtle emotional cues that could represent a high-risk situation for a child. Too often people take a laissez-faire approach to “abnormally acting” children. Your raising and reporting concerns could save lives.

One very important consideration is that reporting abnormal situations isn’t the same as making accusations. It’s better to think of it as establishing a path for whatever type of help is needed. To that end, today’s post will share information provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help you recognize when a child may be in danger. Pay attention because it could be your child that is affected, and it’s not always true that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

child abuse emotional

The Child

• Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance

• Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention

• Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes

• Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen

• Lacks adult supervision

• Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn

• Comes to school or other activities early, stays late and does not want to go home

• Is reluctant to be around a particular person

• Discloses maltreatment

child abuse emotional no excuse

The Parent

• Denies the existence of—or blames the child for—the child’s problems in school or at home

• Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves

• Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless or burdensome

• Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve

• Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of the parent’s emotional needs

• Shows little concern for the child

child abuse emotional tears

The Parent and Child

• Rarely touch or look at each other

• Consider their relationship entirely negative

• State that they do not like each other

The above list may not be all the signs of abuse or neglect. It is important to pay attention to other behaviors that may seem unusual or concerning. In addition to these signs and symptoms, Child Welfare Information Gateway provides information on the risk factors and perpetrators of child abuse and neglect fatalities:  https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/

child_abuse_poster_by_darkblade221-d6e0std

Signs of Physical Abuse

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the child …

• Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes

• Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school

• Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home

• Shrinks at the approach of adults

• Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

• Abuses animals or pets

Emotional-Child-Abuse

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver …

• Offers conflicting, unconvincing or no explanation for the child’s injury, or provides an explanation that is not consistent with the injury

• Describes the child as “evil” or in some other very negative way

• Uses harsh physical discipline with the child

• Has a history of abuse as a child

• Has a history of abusing animals or pets

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Pediatrics/Kids Health, Trauma

Straight, No Chaser: Lowering Your Risk of Being Sexually Assaulted

rapestop

Rape occurs in many different situations. Although the stereotype involves a stranger pulling a victim into a dark, isolated place, more common situations involve being assaulted in the home environment by someone known or by a date. These days rapes occur with victims unable to resist and without memory of the assault.

To begin this conversation of how to lower your risk of sexual assault, remember this first:

Never leave your drink unattended, whether on a date or at a club or other social event.

daterapedrugs

This is the second entry in a Straight, No Chaser series on sexual assault (aka sexual violence, rape).

  • Check this Straight, No Chaser, which addresses the definition and scope of sexual assault, including actions to take if you’re a victim of sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault.
  • Another post will discuss concrete physical and mental consequences of sexual assault.
  • Another post will discuss signs of sexual assault in children.

For the many of you who are victims of rape and sexual assault, you are never at fault, no matter where or how it happens. Your mental health moving forward is largely dependent on when and how completely you accept this fact.

rapeprevention

How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?
This information is modified from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Crime Prevention Council. Here are actions you can take to lower your risk of sexual assault. Being prepared to recognize signs and take action is not the same as living in fear or being paranoid. Forewarned is forearmed.

In general
• First and foremost, be aware of your surroundings. Learn to survey your environment as a prelude to avoiding dangerous situations.
• If any circumstance presents that makes you feel uncomfortable, leave. Hone and trust your instincts.
• Be assertive about your personal space. Make it clear that there are limits that are not to be violated. Your first concern shouldn’t be how these boundaries make you look, but your safety.
• Carry your preferred method of protection. Be skilled in your choice and avoid options that can easily be used against you.

At home
• Lock your doors and your windows, even if you’re gone for just a few minutes. The appearance of unforced entry only confuses matters if you’re trying to prosecute an attacker.
• Never prop open self-locking doors.
• Use door guards, including security door chains and partial door stops.
• Never open your door without knowing who is on the other side. Use the door’s peephole to view your visitors.

Out and about
• Walk with confidence. This promotes strength.
• When it comes to using alcohol, know your limits and stick to them.
• Avoid isolated areas such as underground garages, offices after business hours and apartment laundry rooms, especially if you’re alone.
• Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route and routine. Exercise and rest in well-traveled, well-lit areas.

Near your car
• Lock your car, even if you’ll only be gone for a few moments. You don’t want to return to find someone hiding in your back seat.
• Have your key ready to use before you reach your car.
• Get a key with an alarm button. Make sure the battery is always strong and the alarm functioning.
• Watch your car keys and don’t put your name and address on the key ring.
• Park in brightly lit areas that are away from wooded or other areas that could easily disguise danger.
• Drive on well-traveled roads and maintain high levels of fuel in your car. Keep your doors and windows locked while driving.
• Fuel your vehicle during the day.
• Never pick up a hitchhiker.
• If you experience car trouble, stay in your vehicle and call for help on your cellular phone. If you don’t have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors and place banners in scattered sites that say, “Help. Call police.”

date_rape_psa_photo

Prevention in these matters is the smart thing to do. Your best chance to avoid sexual assault is to avoid being places in which a higher risk of assault exists.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Genital/Urinary, Medical Treatment, Mental Health, Trauma

Straight, No Chaser: The Spectrum and Specter of Autism

autism_month_moving

Autism. Small word. Big effects on families. Previously, we discussed the scope and recent explosion of autism diagnoses. Here we delve into the disorders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) isn’t a disease as much as it is a range of disorders characterized by neurological effects affecting one’s development. These effects include communication difficulties, social impairments and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. There is a wide variation in the expression of ASD and cases may be mild or severe. ASD occurs in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. You may have seen or heard of variations of ASD, particularly the following:

 ASD

  • Autistic disorder (aka autism, classical ASD): This is the most severe form of ASD.
  • Asperger syndrome: This diagnosis may be given to children with autistic behaviors who retain well-developed language skills.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder is diagnosed in children who had developed normally and then suddenly deteriorated (typically between three to 10 years old), showing marked autistic behaviors.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS): This is a diagnosis given to those children with some symptoms of an ASD but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism.

Although the cause of ASD is not known, it’s likely that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Brain abnormalities in those affected suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development. This notion is supported by the consistent discovery of defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. The presence of certain environmental factors can further influence the expression of the function of these genes.

It is important to note the theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.

Furthermore, twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism.  Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90% chance the other twin will be affected.  Evidence also suggests that certain emotional disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder) occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.

Autism_awareness

Regarding symptoms, the hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction, which may be manifested in several ways:

  • Babies with ASD may focus exclusively on one item for inordinately long periods of time, completely ignoring other people or objects.
  • A child with ASD may appear to have developed normally, then suddenly withdraw and become indifferent to social activity.
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.
  • Children with ASD often have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues (e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions) and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
  • Those with an ASD may lack empathy.

Other typical symptoms include the following:

  • Repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
  • Self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging
  • Delayed speech
  • Speaking in a sing-song voice while limiting speech to a small group of favorite topics
  • Referring to self by name instead of “I” or “me”
  • Inability to play interactively with other children
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorder), seen in approximately 20-30% of children with ASD

Of course, you don’t want to wait long to get a child evaluated. Here is a laundry list of signs that an evaluation is necessary.

  • no babbling or pointing by age one
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age two
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

If you have a loved one with suggestive symptoms, please arrange for early evaluation. The team involved will often have to address speed, psychiatric and neurological needs. Screening, early evaluation and treatment across the spectrum of symptoms offers the best opportunity for those affected to approximate a normal life.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Mental Health, Pediatrics/Kids Health

Straight, No Chaser: Questions and Answers About Problem Gambling

problem gambling ribbon

Whether or not you’re willing to admit to a gambling addiction, the presence of a gambling problem should concern you. This Straight, No Chaser takes information  adapted from the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling to address your  questions and concerns.

How is problem gambling defined?
There are a variety of ways to define a gambling problem, but what they all have in common is the presence of a behavior pattern involving gambling that disrupts or damages one’s personal lifestyle, inclusive of family, vocational or other personal pursuits.

How widespread is problem gambling in the U.S.?
2 million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Although that’s a lot of people, it’s a small proportion of the approximately 85% of U.S. adults who have gambled at least once in their lives.

Isn’t problem gambling just about losing money? Actually, no. The reason the topic is being addressed in this space is problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences, not just the presence of being a bad gambler who has lost a lot of money. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association even has criteria for gambling addiction (see www.psych.org for more). The bottom line is the problem gambler has an obsession with gambling.

gambling-addiction

What are the symptoms of problem gambling? 

  • increasing preoccupation with gambling
  • a need to bet more money more frequently
  • restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop
  • “chasing” losses
  • loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.
  • In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.

What kind of people become problem gamblers? Actually, it’s been shown that anyone who gambles can develop problems. Remember, a gambling problem is defined by the outcome of a meaningful disruption to at least part of one’s life. Many problem gamblers are viewed as previously responsible and mentally strong until propelled into the crises brought on by gambling. This is not an affliction of just the irresponsible, weak-minded or weak-willed. It is of note that children and teens can also develop gambling problems.

Is problem gambling “caused” by predatory activity of casinos, lotteries, etc.? Just as a liquor store doesn’t “create” an alcoholic, neither does a casino or lottery cause gambling addiction; it does however provide the opportunity for a predetermined genetic tendency to develop addiction to become manifest.

How is the problem gambler addicted without ingesting something? It’s a misconception that substances are required to produce an addiction. Gambling produces alterations in mood and a need to reproduce behavior to achieve the positive benefits associated with the changes in mood. Just as with substance-induced addictions, tolerance develops, meaning in time it takes increasingly higher amounts of the behavior (gambling) to reach the desired effect. This leads to the same type of cravings and withdrawals seen in other addictions.

ncpg logo

How do I get help for problem gambling? There is a national helpline that is offered by the National Council on Problem Gambling. Call 800-522-4700 for concerns.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: Dementia – When Brain Health Goes Bad

dementia-brain eraser

In case you didn’t pick up on it, the posts regarding brain health served two purposes. The first is to ensure you give yourself the best opportunity to live a healthy, happy mental life. The second is to stave off the point in your life when you develop dementia. In this and the next post on brain health, we focus on dementia, which occurs when the brain becomes a certain type of unhealthy. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for approximately 60-80% of cases.

Look at the below chart for a stunning illustration of the scope of dementia.

Dementia facts

As opposed to being a single disease, dementia describes a range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other mental skills. As such, it’s more helpful to describe functions lost instead of symptoms you may experience. Dementia is associated with a reduced ability to perform routine activities of daily living. It can be associated with significant impairment of other mental functions, including the following:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language.
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

Practically this could range from problems with remembering appointments or names, engaging in unnecessarily dangerous activities for no reason, or keeping track of items.

demenetia brain map

Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. It’s the type of damage that could occur from a poor diet, age-related or other causes of poor blood circulation to the brain (e.g. a stroke). Depending on the involved area of the brain, various levels of loss of function may be seen. Based on the most common patterns and sites of brain damage, the mental deficits described above are those most likely to be seen. It is of note that the center of memory and learning (the hippocampus) is often the first area damaged, which corresponds to those deficits that define early dementia/Alzheimer’s.

My messages to you regarding dementia are pretty simple.

  • You don’t want it. Dementia is the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end. It is progressive. The symptoms will be more and more pronounced with time.
  • You need to address it. If you haven’t been forward thinking enough to engage in brain health, know the early signs, and get checked out as soon as possible. The good news is all dementia isn’t Alzheimer’s and could represent a treatable cause. Even when it doesn’t, steps to temporarily improve symptoms can be instituted.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Neurology

Straight, No Chaser: Brain Health – Mental Gymnastics to Keep You Vibrant

brain-exercise function

I always found it odd that we assume our brain will simply perform in every way we need it to once developed. It seems reasonable to me that if we choose to diet and exercise in an effort to maintain and build every other part of the body, we should be doing the same for our brains. Previous Straight, No Chaser posts have reviewed how the brain works and have addressed the basics of exercising and eating to best support your brain. We have also discussed sleep, which is another essential component of brain health.

This post will discuss activities for you to perform that will actively engage and grow your brain power. We will review several types of activities that work well to keep your brain working well.

brainbike

To start with, ask yourself to actually consider what you want to accomplish with your brain. Are you still in building mode, where you’re willing to continue to learn and grow, or are you fighting to maintain what you have (e.g. stem the tide of memory loss)? The difference in your answer may suggest the need to engage in more vs. less global brain development activities.

Consider certain passive and active activities that exercise your brain and functionally make you a lifelong student. Pick up a new hobby. Take a class. Build things.

Want another approach? Develop a part of your brain that you may not be using as much. Practice writing with your other hand. Learn to play an instrument.

brain exercise CrosswordPuzzles

Do you like games? Certain games hit the sweet spot of brain development. These include daily crosswords, puzzles, Rubik’s cubes and video games. However the best of all is chess. Playing chess stimulates many different areas of the brain; it’s worthwhile learning or continuing to play for brain health.

Are you more verbally inclined? Read, read, read (we recommend Behind the Curtain; we’ve heard it’s quite stimulating). Join a book club or chat room, and discuss what you’ve read. Increase your vocabulary by learning a new word a day. Learn a new language. Learn to write (don’t forget to proofread!).

brain exercise training

Learn to be an active user of your brain. Start by reducing or eliminating the most passive of your activities, such as watching TV; it’s mostly receptive and not very good for exercising your brain, unless you’re interacting with the program in some way. Plan your activities, and envision various scenarios. Break the monotony in your activities; instead of a routine, force yourself to choose differing options in your activities.

If you are interested in an organized approach to brain exercise, here are two sites that I’d highly recommend.

http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/

www.luminosity.com

Whatever you choose to do, do something!

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention, Mental Health, Neurology