Mental Diet (6)

Continuing with your goals after experiencing severe failures is not easy, and it may seem impossible. Nonetheless, there are quite a few things you can do to ensure you keep working on turning your dreams into reality, no matter how many times you fail.

If you master the seven things that have the power to help you remain motivated to continue reaching for your dreams, you will be unstoppable. No form of failure can get in the way of succeeding in anything you do.7832005494?profile=RESIZE_400x

  1. Look at the failure from a different perspective.

   “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill. We all experience failure from time to time. The difference between quitters and those who continue working on their goals is that high-achievers know that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It only matters how you choose to respond to failure. 

The world’s famous high-achievers reached their breakthroughs after experiencing severe failures because they decided never to give up. Steven Spielberg is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter who is one of the most famous producers and directors in film history with a net worth of 3,6 billion USD in 2020. 

None of what he has accomplished would have been possible if he gave up on his dreams or himself after being rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television three times. He knew what he wanted to accomplish and kept moving forward. Today he has won over 15 awards, and he also co-founded DreamWorks pictures along with other outstanding achievements. 

  1. Take valuable lessons from the bad experience.

   Every failure comes with an important lesson that can get you a step closer to your goal. You just have to recognize what that lesson is. Thinking “What valuable lesson can I take from this” will always help you look at failure from a different viewpoint. 

  1. Keep moving.

    I understand how difficult believing in something that didn’t turn out the way you expected is. Nonetheless, no matter what happens, you have to keep believing in what you intend to accomplish if you are going to make it happen. Keep believing and keep moving, even if it means taking the smallest steps. The little steps you take after a disappointment will add up in the long run, and you will be grateful for them. 

  1. Do not let the failure define you.

   One mistake you can make after an awful defeat is to let the fact that you failed at what you were working on define you. If you do that, you will be blind to the things that you can change and spend most of your time thinking about the things you have no control over. Think of failure as a stepping stone toward your destiny instead of letting it define you.

  1. Have a strong support system.

   Sometimes you need a mentor telling you that everything will work out fine in the end. It is that kind of assurance that can make a huge difference in your life. Surround yourself with people who will be there for you when you need them. Strengthen ties with people who are more inclined to say, “This is hard, but you can still come up from it” as opposed to “At least you tried, you gave it your best.” 

  1. Rediscover your energy and zeal.

   What is the main thing that has the power to revive your spirits and get you excited about your goals or life in general? That is what you need to be doing when you feel you don’t have the strength to go on. If you are empowered by spending some time alone, try going on a vacation and make sure you leave your life behind once you arrive. Your next best idea can come up when you are away from everything and just focusing on yourself. 

  1. Come up with a different plan.

    Your failure may have been caused by the plan you have in place or your implementation of it. Consider coming up with a different plan or another way of executing the strategy you already have in place. Sometimes all you need to succeed is a different approach.

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Mind Health 101

The focus on mental health in recent years has grown, and for a good reason. We are coming to understand that we previously overlooked that caring for our minds is as vital and as necessary as caring for our bodies.

Just as our bodies suffer and decline without proper care, our minds also do. Thus, we need to know about and utilize tools that will help us foster a healthy environment for our minds so that we can function optimally.4331696030?profile=RESIZE_710x

Meditation

Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus to increase awareness, reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and enhancing personal and spiritual growth. Through guided activities such as deep breathing or visualization, one can become more grounded in the present, more self-aware, and better able to cope with stress in their lives.

A study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging looked at the brains of 16 people who had never previously meditated and then reexamined their minds after the completion of an 8-week meditation program whereby participants spent 27 minutes on average each day practicing mindful meditation (Ahuja, 2017).

When researchers examined the brains of the participants after the 8-week mediation program period, they found that in the hippocampus, there was an increased grey-matter density. The hippocampus is linked to learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Additionally, the size of the amygdala was reduced, which is significant because that is the portion of the mind that regulates stress and anxiety (Ahuja, 2017). These results demonstrate that meditation can be a powerful mental health tool to fight anxiety and stress and help people cope better with their surroundings.

Minimize Stress

Stress can be detrimental to our mental health. Research had linked stress to mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), among others. Stress also causes a physical response in our bodies, characterized by an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and tense muscles.

When this stress response is triggered long-term, this can prove to be problematic. In many instances, this prolonged stress response negatively impacts the heart, immune system, metabolic functions, hormones, emotions, and mental capacity.

Additionally, memory loss and the destruction of brain cells can both be side effects of prolonged exposure to stress (Transforming Mental Health, 2016). Thus, active measures must be taken to help cope with daily stress. Techniques such as breathing and journaling can help to deal with negative stressors and minimize the impacts stress has on the mind and body.

Limit Social Media

While social media certainly has its benefits, it also has its downfalls. Some research has looked into social media, and its impact on users and research has found its effects to be increasingly more negative on mental health than we may have thought. In one study from researchers at the University of Houston, surveys of college students found links between depressive symptoms and time spent on Facebook.

More specifically, more time spent on Facebook led to more comparison, which in turn led to more depressive feelings, particularly for males (Pappas, 2012). Another study presented at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association in 2015 found that people with mental health conditions reported that while social media did give them feelings of being part of a community, it also exacerbated their anxiety and paranoia (Pappas, 2016).

These findings demonstrate the need to find balance when it comes to social media use. By setting healthy boundaries and limits for ourselves, we can decrease the chances of experience negative mental health impacts like anxiety and depression. Plus, we get to enjoy the positives social media offers such as connectivity and community without the anguish of negative mental health effects.

Exercise

The mind and the body are linked in many ways, so it is natural that physical activity, which is good for the body, would also be healthy for the mind. A 2014 review included in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found a link between increased physical activity and reduced depressive symptoms in people who have a mental illness.

The same study also found a reduction in the symptoms experienced by those diagnosed with schizophrenia (Rosenbaum et al., 2014). A study published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica in 2014 noted that the addition of a physical exercise program to the treatment plan of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder reduced the symptoms of those patients.

The patients also saw improvements in their sleep patterns (Rosenbaum, 2014). These studies and others like it demonstrate the valuable link between caring for our bodies and minds. When we engage in physical wellness, the brain benefits greatly.

The mind is a vital organ.  It must be taken care of like the rest of the body. We have much more control over our mental health, then we think, and we must start making it a priority if we want to facilitate and maintain mental health. When our minds are at their best we can be at our best, and that is a win-win for everyone.

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We, as a society in America, work. From the moments we open our eyes till the time we go to sleep, most of our waking hours are consumed by some activity associated with work. Some of us work two, three, and sometimes, for the very few, four or more jobs. We do this because that is what we are told to do, based on an idea of the American Dream.

For some, just a look at a Normal Rockwell painting can bring up a preconditioned idea of what life in America is supposed to be like. With such a predisposition for work, we center everything around the job or the career. Schedules are built as such that work dominates every aspect of our lives.

We are either getting ready for work, at work or winding down from work. With all of this work, as Americans, we rarely get much personal downtime. This means our brains are not getting the rest that they need to reset and prolong cognitive ability.4328339677?profile=RESIZE_710x

What are the Benefits of Downtime?

Having downtime allows our brain to process all the information that it receives in a single day. As soon as we wake until the time we sleep, and even if we are asleep, we are inundated with a variety of external stimuli.

 Facebook, Instagram, CNN, FOX News, Streaming media, red-light cameras, all of it floods us with a constant stream of stimuli, making, somedays, our brains overactive.

Racing thoughts are a byproduct of this and cause us to lay in bed at night until we can sort out all of the variables. Just a few of the benefits from downtime are increases in productivity, creative ability, and motivation.

An Increase in Productivity will bring about amazing changes in your work life, as well as your personal life. Spending time to do the things that you enjoy away from work will allow you to focus on the work that you have to do. An added benefit is that as your productivity at work increases, so does the goodwill that you may have with your company. Downtime can help you get that raise that you are looking for.

The increased creative ability allows you to create the things that you hold dear. If you are an artist, an increase in creativity will allow you to produce better works, which in turn will make you productive, as you have seen the value in the works.

Downtime also will lead to an increase in motivation. The increase in motivation will allow you to feel better about yourself and will also bring about a positive psychic change that will filter through to all areas of your life.

What Can We Do about it?

Here are a few things that will make sure that you have the downtime that you need.

Time-Blocking

Time-blocking is nothing short of making sure that everything has a time and place. If work lasts from 8 to 5, at 5:01, you should be on your way home. No exceptions. If the weekly cup of coffee with your best friend is scheduled from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM at 10:01 AM you need to be on to your next block.

Meditation

Meditation is nothing short of clearing your mind so that you can begin to focus on the task at hand. When life gets too hectic, take 5 minutes to re-center yourself and find that state of equilibrium with the world around you.

Exercise

Exercise has been shown to increase certain chemicals in your brain that lead to healing and feelings of joy. It is also a great stress reliever.

Quiet Time

The most important thing is the time when stimuli are none. A quiet room, sitting in your favorite chair, with a book, journal, or art project. Quiet time isn’t “do nothing” time. It is a time for relaxation,  reflection, and meditation. Take advantage of your quiet time.

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Recently, there have been many discoveries in neuroscience proving that brain function can stay strong with old age and can be significantly improved. By focusing on various healthy activities, you can make an effort to change the way your brain functions and have long-lasting memory as you age.        

Although memory loss is commonly associated with old age and seen as unavoidable, decades of research have proved this wrong. With small efforts in your daily routine, you can prevent and reverse these age-related changes. Below are examples of ways to keep your memory skills sharp and continuously improving regardless of your age.4322580003?profile=RESIZE_710x

Exercise              

Exercising regularly does not only benefit one’s physical health. Exercising has been proven to improve the brain’s function and activity, allowing the mind to be more reliable and healthier. Scientists have found that cardiovascular exercise is linked with more cell growth in the hippocampus, which is a component of the brain associated with learning and memory.            

According to research presented in Health magazine, physical activity mitigates the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other mental illnesses associated with aging. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day increases the amount of oxygen sent to the brain and enhances healthy brain chemicals.              

By delaying memory impairment and keeping the brain strong, physical activity can significantly improve brain function and keep one’s memory sharp. Lowering the risk of memory-related diseases is essential to one’s quality of life.

Stimulate the Brain

By continually challenging the mind and constantly making an effort to learn new things, your mind will be in a healthy and sharp state. Advanced education allows you to form a habit of staying mentally active.

According to research presented in a Harvard article, challenging the brain maintains the strength of brain cells and allows them to communicate with one another. When your brain cells can transmit messages to one another, they are consistently exercising and staying powerful.           

There are numerous ways to stimulate the brain that are enjoyable and fun. Doing puzzles with family, signing up for educational classes on topics that interest you, or learning to play an instrument are just a few examples of ways that you can stimulate the brain without it feeling like a chore.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs             

As we age, drinking and using drugs has much more substantial impacts on one’s health, and the brain is much more sensitive. The alcohol stays in your system for longer due to slowed metabolism and is associated with various severe health conditions.       

A study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry proved that drinking problems at younger ages are directly associated with memory impairment. The participants who admitted to heavy drinking in their past were twice as likely to suffer from memory issues and mental diseases.     

Keeping the mind sharp by avoiding alcohol and drugs is essential to a healthy memory throughout old age.

Stay Organized 

Even throughout retirement, keeping planners, calendars, and lists is crucial to staying productive and maintaining memory skills. By writing tasks and reminders down, you are much more likely to remember them in the future and will have confidence in your memory.               

By focusing on information, you want to remember and writing things down to stay organized; your memory will be sharpened and remain stable. You will no longer feel frustrated and defeated and will be confident in your productivity.

Conclusion        

There are so many different tasks you can incorporate into your daily life to keep your memory strong and your mind sharp. Making an effort to learn new things through reading and other activities that stimulate the mind, your brain will continuously feel challenged, and your brain cells will be working hard to communicate with one another.

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Nobody wants to waste away, even in old age. We’ve all seen the older adult who can’t remember yesterday and always yells for you to speak up. While we love these senior citizens, we may not want to become them. And we don’t have to! An important fact is that while we cannot control IF we age, we do have control over HOW we age.

The good news is that many people enjoy a healthy and enjoyable life well into their golden years. New advancements in medicine and psychology further aid this process of being the best you for your whole life. Here are four ways to age better by developing your mind.4299604264?profile=RESIZE_710x

Never Stop Learning

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age, according to Health.Harvard.edu. A reason for this may be that higher education gets you into the habit of being mentally active. When practiced as a lifelong habit, even if you have no formal education and never stop learning, your brain stays sharp.

Even if your job is not mentally demanding, you could take up a new hobby and read more. A brain that is challenged is less likely to fall to dementia or memory loss. You are also more likely to enjoy a fuller life as you keep rising to life’s challenge.

Exercise Your Senses

When memory is associated with more than one of your senses, such as smell, you are more likely to remember it. Have you ever walked into a place with a familiar smell and been almost sent back in time? This is the power of your senses, working together with your brain.

The more senses you engage, the more likely you are to remember something. It is also a better work out for your brain to use more of it at once. It’s a myth that we only use ten percent of our minds, but we are only using certain parts of it at a time. Using more of it at once will keep our brain healthy long after our hair grays.

Refuse to Age

If you don’t think the mind has any power over the body, consider the placebo effect. People given a sugar pill sometimes experience a change in their physical health simply because they believe they received treatment. The reasons why this happens are unknown, but the fact is that it happens.

Similarly, older people do worse on memory and tasks when exposed to negative myths about aging. If you allow yourself to believe that it’s all downhill from here, or that you don’t have to try anymore, you might get a negative placebo effect. The opposite, however, is also true!

If you believe that you can be a healthy, valuable member of society at any age, you are more likely to make that dream into reality. So, go for it! Refuse to age.

Repetition

Practice makes perfect, but the practice also makes you. You are what you do regularly. Repeating out loud what you’re trying to learn is an effective way to increase your memory even into old age. This philosophy branches further into healthy lifestyle habits like exercising, eating right, and the other tips on this list. Stay on top of them, and don’t give up!

You don’t need to fear old age. If you implement the proper lifestyle choices, you will empower your mind and body to keep performing well. You can spend quality time with your grandchildren and even learn a whole new hobby or two. You can travel the world and be the envy of all the youngsters.

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Most of us know that the brain has an impact on our learning, but did you realize that our learning affects our brains? When we learn, our minds grow, both figuratively and literally, for the better.

Before we can become passionate about pursuing life-long learning, it may be beneficial to understand how the brain is positively impacted by learning. If we understand the significance of learning, we’ll then become more intentional about pursuing and incorporating it.4289613204?profile=RESIZE_710x

Structure

When we learn the actual structure of the brain changes. When you learn something new and continuously review and practice it, the brain changes the structure of its cells and increases the number of synapses between the cells (neurons). These changes in brain structure prove to be beneficial in areas such as memory, processing, and brain plasticity (Amen, n.d.). Learning essentially helps the brain change so that it can receive and store more information.

Protect Against Mental Decline

Learning offers many protective benefits for the brain. Research suggests that engaging in activities such as reading, playing brain games, learning a new language, learning to play an instrument, and other activities like these work to decrease the risk of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and slow cognitive decline associated with aging.

A 2014 study from the University of Edinburgh pointed to a correlation between the slowing of mental decline linked to aging and the learning of new foreign languages (Bak et al., 2014).

There’s also research that points to the fact that people who continue to pursue either formal or informal learning whereby the mind continues to be stimulated then see lower rates and slower rates of mental aging (Oz, n.d.).

Enhanced Processing Speed

As mentioned above, learning changes the neurons in the brain and increases the number of synapses between these neurons, which allows them to receive and send information faster.

This means that the brain becomes able to receive more information and assess that information more effectively and efficiently. This lets us tap into the brain’s innate plasticity so new skills can be obtained, and further information can be successfully analyzed. Ultimately, this keeps the mind sharp and alert, even as aging occurs.

Improved Memory

There is a lot of research that supports the idea that learning has a significant impact on memory. When we learn, our mind gets more robust and our memories last longer. Studies show that reading, a form of learning, works to improve our overall memory in addition to enhancing our comprehension and increasing our vocabulary (Beers, 2017).

Neuroscientist Dr. Denise Park from the University of Texas at Dallas studied nearly 200 older adults to look at the impact learning had on their memory. Participants were assigned various activities and were tasked with spending 15 hours per week for three months learning the new skill. Memory tests were then given and compared to several control groups.

The results, which were published in the journal Psychological Science, showed that those who learned the new skill saw drastic improvements in memory, which were sustained even a year later, as participants were tested again at that benchmark (Silverman, 2014).

Greater Efficiency

When we learn, the cells in our brains that send out and take in information related to the task grow more efficient. Over time, with continued review and practice, it takes less effort for the cells in the brain to signal other cells. And with even more analysis and training, a person can also get to a place where it takes little or no mental effort to recall information or perform a task.

This can be seen with experienced athletes and musicians who can often perform complicated drills or play intricate music pieces without exerting mental energy (Learning rewires the brain, 2019). They’ve studied and learned the task so frequently that the brain has become more efficient at processing the task, so it essentially becomes second nature.

It is apparent to see how beneficial learning can be for the health of our brains. We not only get smarter, but we get better and tend to remember more over a prolonged period of time when we pursue learning. Thus, we should aim to make learning, whether formal or informal, a consistent part of our lives so that we can be our best selves at all times.

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