Tag Archive: mental health

  1. What is Brain Fog?

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    Your mind may feel like the fog has just rolled in, and you wonder if it will ever roll out again.  Do you ever feel like a word is on the tip of your tongue?   Or perhaps you walk into rooms and can’t recall what you were there for.   Imagine if these symptoms persisted over weeks or even months.  Brain fog refers to feelings of mental confusion or a lack of mental sharpness.

    Symptoms of Brain Fog

    *  Forgetfulness
    *  Feeling detached or depressed
    *  Mild difficulty with word finding
    *  Processing information more slowly

    Brain fog is not considered a formal diagnosis because testing is not clearly defined.  Women may complain of these symptoms during menopause, particularly during the peri-menopausal period.   Periodic changes in cognitive skills for women are believed to be related to hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, shortly after childbirth and during menopause.

    There are also other causes for brain fog, or the mild cognitive decline, that frustrate so many people during periods of their adulthood.  Brain fog may lower self-esteem and can sometimes lead to depression if not properly addressed.

    10 Causes of Brain Fog      

    *   Exposure to toxic metals
    *   A copper imbalance in the blood – birth control pills can make this condition worse
    *   Dehydration
    *   Food Allergies or Poor Nutrition
    *   Hypoglycemia
    *   Thyroid imbalance
    *   Poor diet
    *   Stress
    *   Artificial sweeteners
    *   Fibromyalgia

    If symptoms of brain fog persist, be sure to consult with your physician to rule out potentially treatable causes of brain fog.   Talk with a friend or family member about your symptoms and frustrations – this can put your mind at ease and allow you an outlet to vent.   Finally, challenge your brain in new ways each day.  Simple activities like crosswords, brain games, physical exercise and music can help energize your mind and ease your symptoms.

  2. 10 Tips to Improve Your Memory

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    Walk into a room and forget why you came?  Can’t recall the name of the new neighbor you just met yesterday?  You are not alone. We all forget things from time to time. Yet, memory loss can be a more serious condition.  While there is not an iron-clad solution to prevent memory loss or dementia, there are a number of brain fitness tips to reduce our risk and improve our memory function.  Try these ten simple tips to boost your memory.   Talk with your doctor when you feel you need help.

    No. 1: Exercise your body

    Physical exercise is still the number one thing you can do for your brain.  When we exercise, oxygen and blood flow to the brain increase which helps to support improvements in short-term memory function and retrieval of information.  Aim to break a sweat every day.

    No. 2: Exercise your mind

    Cross-training is the best way to improve memory function. On Monday, dive into a new book.  On Tuesday, play 15 minutes of brain games.  Try Making Curfew on BrainSpade.com to challenge your visual memory skills.  Continue to tackle new challenges for the remainder of the week – card games, board games, or even trying a new recipe are all part of keeping your memory fit.

    No. 3: Keep it Social

    Maintaining social relationships helps to reduce stress levels and depression, both of which are major contributors to memory decline. Make plans to spend time with friends and family.

    No. 4: De-Clutter

    Forgetting things can be more of a problem if your home is in disarray. Organize papers and throw away things that aren’t needed.  Get in the habit of putting your keys and other important items in the same place each day.

    No. 5: Stop Multi-Tasking

    Resist the urge of tackling multiple tasks at once.  Multi-tasking elevates stress which can hinder memory function. Divide your day into chunks and concentrate for periods of time before stopping to do other things.

    No. 6: Turn Up the Music

    Studies show that listening to music can improve our ability to recall information.  Choose music that lifts your spirits and add that into the mix when you are exercising, cleaning, or working on something familiar.

    No. 7: Eat Your Veggies

    A diet rich in dark-green leafy vegetables is essential for keeping your memory strong.  Find creative ways to add more greens to your diet.  Look for green smoothie recipes as a start.  Dr. Oz has an excellent spinach smoothie which is actually quite tasty: Dr. Oz’s Green Drink.

    No. 8: Spice Things Up

    Countries like India that incorporate a variety of spices into their daily diet, show a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementia related illnesses.  Look for new recipes and menu options that incorporate spices like cumin, cinnamon and ginger into your diet.

    No. 9: Drink Up

    Are you staying fully hydrated?  Our brain is made up of 75% water.  By the time you feel thirsty, you are already a bit dehydrated.   If you don’t enjoy drinking water consider dropping in fresh lemon, basil or cucumber.  Herbal tea is a great option too.

    No. 10: BrainSpade.com

    We would be remiss if we didn’t share that our team of clinicians are hard at work developing new brain exercises and brain teasers to keep your mind sharp, challenge your memory, and boost your spirit. Remember to make Brain Games part of your daily routine.

  3. Top 7 Brain Benefits of Drinking Water

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    The human brain is made up of approximately 75% water, so it is no surprise that dehydration has a dramatic effect on brain health.

    Dehydration

    Dehydration takes place when there is a deficit of water and salts that are essential for regular bodily functions.   Mineral imbalances hinder normal brain operation.  Mental fatigue, memory problems, and mental confusion can result when the brain isn’t properly hydrated.  Grey matter in the brain actually shrinks, and chronic long term dehydration can cause the brain to age prematurely.

    How Dehydration Impacts Your Brain

    *   Mental fatigue
    *   Problems with information processing
    *   Mood changes
    *   Premature aging of the brain

    Drinking filtered spring water is the best way to stay hydrated.  If you take your body weight and divide it by two, you will have calculated the ounces of water you need to consume per day.  Soda, coffee, and black tea are acidic beverages, so they don’t count toward your daily hydration goal.

    7 Brain Benefits of Staying Hydrated

    Discover why drinking to your brain health really can make a difference in your life:

    1.  Supports healthy brain cells
    2.  Improves concentration
    3.  Helps to balance mood and emotions
    4.  Improves quality of your sleep
    5.  Maintain memory function
    6.  Eliminates toxins and free radicals from your blood
    7.  Improves blood flow and oxygen to the brain

  4. 12 Steps to Better Sleep

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    Falling asleep might seem like an impossible dream when you’re awake at 2 a.m., but deep sleep may be within your reach. Following these healthy sleep habits can put you on the right track. Researchers have identified a variety of “sleep hygiene” techniques that can help anyone maximize the hours they spend sleeping, even those whose suffer from insomnia.

    1.  Avoid exercising in the evening.

    2.  Eat a lighter evening meal and avoid snacking before bed.

    3.  Turn off all electronics a full hour before sleep.

    4.  Take a warm shower or bath.

    5.  Turn the temperature in your bedroom. Cooler temperatures are help to improve your breathing and encourage deeper sleep.

    6.  Invest in the perfect pillow.

    7.  Make your room very dark.

    8.  Ban the blue lights in the bedroom. Insomnia feeds on the soft blue glow from a cell phone, PDA, or digital clock resting on your bedside table.

    9.  Jot down any worries or concerns you have and save them for the next day.

    10.  Block the clock. Don’t watch the time in the middle of the night.

    11.  When you wake in the morning, let the natural light into your room.

    12.  Aim for getting at least 20 minutes of sunlight every day.

    Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health. Study after study has found a link between insufficient sleep and a number of serious health problems including heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.

  5. 8 Habits That Reveal Your Secrets

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    Whether you’re picking your nails or simply fidgeting, it all tells a story. Learn what you’re revealing to others and how to read the signs you see.

    1. Brushing Hair Off Your Face: This can indicate either nerves or an unintentional flirtation. Avoid touching your hair and face at work.

    2. Nose Scratching: Lying is associated with an adrenaline rush. This chemical release causes the capillaries to expand and makes the nose itch.

    3. Nodding: If you tend to nod in clusters of three, the speaker will perceive that you are interested in what they are saying and lengthen their response. Nod only once when trying to be polite but also end the conversation.

    4. Lowering Your Gaze: This humble gesture is often an unconscious bid to gain the support of others.

    5. Pursing Your Lips: Pursing, by narrowing the margins of your lips, is a strong indicator of anger, according to Paul Ekman, former University of California at San Francisco professor.

    6. Tilting Your Head: Cocking your head to one side indicates that you are friendly and approachable. Researchers believe that by showing the other person your jugular vein, you are indicating that you are not a threat and wish to build trust.

    7. Smiling: Skip the Botox, because, according to Professor Barbee of the University of Kentucky, the only sincere smile is one that also engages the eye muscles. People who grin only with their lips are likely faking it.

    8. Biting Your Lips: Nibbling or licking your lips suggests that you find a situation to be uncomfortable. When you don’t have to talk, try keeping your teeth together to avoid this habit.

  6. Searching for Brain Games

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    Have you been searching for some really good (and free) brain games?  The wait is over.  Our team at Brain Spade has spent two years looking at what’s available and how games match up with the latest in neuroscience.   Doctors and researchers agree on a few important points when it comes to brain games.  First, change is what’s good for your brain.  Our human brain benefits from a variety of brain training experiences.   New and different types of games focused in areas like memory, problem-solving, speed, and concentration provide a well-rounded workout.

    Studies show that brain games are just one piece of building a brain-healthy lifestyle.  Exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management are important too.  At Brain Spade, we provide lifestyle tips to help you optimize your brain’s performance.

    Staff’s Picks 

    • Lights OutAn exciting visual memory matching game. 
    • Brain Teasers – Just click on the brain teaser tab at the top for some real stumpers.
    • Double Digits – Reignite your math skills and boost your concentration level.
    • Sugar Sugar – Outside the box thinking has never been more fun.

    Remember that when searching for brain games on the web to look for variety.   Spend time with games that you find challenging.  In just 15 minutes a day you can truly begin to elevate your brain’s level of performance.  And remember, brain games are just one important part of building an overall healthy lifestyle.  Taking a walk, calling an old friend, and even learning to tango can also work wonders for the human brain!

  7. Top 6 Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

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    Wondering if dark chocolate is good for you?  The answer is absolutely – in moderation.  Scientists have recently discovered many positive health benefits you can receive from eating this decadent treat.

    1) Dark Chocolate Improves Blood Flow to the Brain.

    Eating dark chocolate helps send blood and oxygen to the brain, which helps boost concentration and problem-solving skills.  Consuming dark chocolate can also help reduce your overall risk for having a stroke.

    2) Dark Chocolate Keeps Your Teeth Strong

    Dark chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine.  Theobromine has been shown to harden tooth enamel. So unlike most sweets, which can lead to cavities, dark chocolate can actually help protect your beautiful smile.

    3) Dark Chocolate is a Heart-Healthy Treat

    Research proves that consuming dark chocolate a few times each week can actually help lower your blood pressure. Because dark chocolate increases blood flow, it may also prevent blood clots from developing.  More good news?  Dark chocolate can play a role in reducing your risk for arteriosclerosis.

    4) Dark Chocolate Boosts Your Mood

    Dark chocolate includes a number of chemical compounds that help boost your mood. Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac because it contains phenylethylamine (PEA).  This is the same chemical your brain produces when you fall in love. PEA causes your brain to release endorphins, which lift your mood and make you feel happier.

    5) Dark Chocolate Helps Protect Against Diabetes

    Dark chocolate helps to increase circulation and protect blood vessels. Flavonoids, found in dark chocolate, also help your body to use insulin efficiently. Finally, dark chocolate is low on the glycemic index, which means it won’t cause large spikes in blood sugar levels.

    6) Dark Chocolate Helps Fight Free Radical Damage

    Loaded with antioxidants, dark chocolate helps free your body of free radicals, which can cause damage to cells. Free radicals cause more rapid aging and can lead to cancer.  Consuming a variety of antioxidant-rich foods like dark chocolate can help protect you from numerous cancers.

  8. Brain Benefits of Sweating

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    The business world is driven by stress.  The more pressure to succeed, the more stress seems to accompany it.  Research consistently indicates that exercise combats stress and is a key component to sound physical and mental health.  It’s clear to see how exercise helps us physically; while the mental benefits of exercise are not always tangible, it is important to understand that your brain benefits from sweating.

    Sweating through an effective exercise program provides wonderful health benefits for your brain, these include:

    *  Relieving Stress and Depression.  Research confirms that 30 to 40 minutes of daily exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, hormone that lifts depression and minimizes the harmful mental and physical effects of stress.

    *  Making You Smarter.  In addition to lifting stress and depression, sweating increases your brain capacity, actually making you smarter.  During exercise, growth hormones are released throughout the body.  These hormones stimulate connection pathways in the brain, making it easy to recall, retain and store important information.

    *  Improved confidence, mood and self-image.  While sweating improves your physical and mental health, it also improves your emotional health too.  Simply sweating for 30 minutes each day leads to improved self-esteem; a happier, more peaceful disposition; and a healthier overall outlook on life.  These mental and emotional improvements result in a more effective, more productive and happier you!

    Article by Michael Healey