Review: Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better

Books and Reviews, Mental Fitness, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

Fascinating New Book by Wendy Suzuki, PhD

Healthy Brain, Happy Life by Wendy Suzuki
I was recently sent a great book (Healthy Brain, Happy Life) to review and I loved it so much, I’m actually going to review it on two of my blogs – here and Self Help Daily.

I’m actually not even sure that’s ever happened before.

What makes this book so special?

With 10 websites/blogs, I read A LOT of books and do A LOT of book reviews. Fortunately I love books to distraction and back, so I’m completely in my element. The problem is, just because you’re frequently in the company of books doesn’t always mean the books are great company.  Truth is, I’ve barely been able to finish books before and immediately thought, “Well, there’s time I’ll never get back.”

When it comes to self improvement and/or health-related books, they’re often “preachy,” self-absorbed, and… well… boring.

The cardinal sin of a book, in my opinion!

Healthy Brain, Happy Life is the sort of book I wish ALL the books I reviewed were…

  • packed with information
  • fun to read
  • filled with personality
  • inspiring
  • motivating
  • eye-opening

 

One of the best compliments you can ever pay an author is to ask, “When’s your next book?!” That’s exactly what I wanted to know the second I finished the book – I immediately wanted Wendy Suzuki to tell me more about the brain, more about the research she has done in her lab, and more about her… Wendy Suzuki.  Along with a goldmine of information about improving your brain’s fitness while, in turn, making your life better than you ever thought it could be, she shares pieces of her own life. When an author is brave enough to give their readers glimpses into their own lives, they inject their personality into the book and that’s when book magic happens.

Instead of just reading about the fascinating world of the brain,  Healthy Brain, Happy Life feels like you’re sitting down and having coffee with the author as she opens up a whole new world of possibilities for your brain AND world.

A neuroscientist transforms the way we think about our brain, our health, and our personal happiness in this clear, informative, and inspiring guide—a blend of personal memoir, science narrative, and immediately useful takeaways that bring the human brain into focus as never before, revealing the powerful connection between exercise, learning, memory, and cognitive abilities.

Nearing forty, Dr. Wendy Suzuki was at the pinnacle of her career. An award-winning university professor and world-renowned neuroscientist, she had tenure, her own successful research lab, prestigious awards, and international renown.

That’s when to celebrate her birthday, she booked an adventure trip that forced her to wake up to a startling reality: despite her professional success, she was overweight, lonely, and tired and knew that her life had to change.  Wendy started simply—by going to an exercise class. Eventually, she noticed an improvement in her memory, her energy levels, and her ability to work quickly and move from task to task easily. Not only did Wendy begin to get fit, but she also became sharper, had more energy, and her memory improved.  Being a neuroscientist, she wanted to know why.

What she learned transformed her body and her life. Now, it can transform yours.

Wendy discovered that there is a biological connection between exercise, mindfulness, and action. With exercise, your body feels more alive and your brain actually performs better.  Yes—you can make yourself smarter. In this fascinating book, Suzuki makes neuroscience easy to understand, interweaving her personal story with groundbreaking research, and offering practical, short exercises—4 minute Brain Hacks—to engage your mind and improve your memory, your ability to learn new skills, and function more efficiently.

Taking us on an amazing journey inside the brain as never before, Suzuki helps us unlock the keys to neuroplasticity that can change our brains, or bodies, and, ultimately, our lives.

If you’re interested in strengthening your mind and improving your overall life, while protecting your brain from dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and age-related memory loss, Healthy Brain, Happy Life is, without a doubt, the next book you need to read.  You’ll learn, first of all, how the brain actually works – which is BEYOND fascinating.  You’ll see how you can easily and enjoyably add activities to your day (such as exercise and meditation) to protect and strengthen your brain.

I know you’ll love the author’s conversational style of writing as much as I do.

It’s just an excellent read from cover to cover.

The book includes “Brain Hacks,” which I love. These are ways you can take the information presented and make it work for you.

From the Back Cover

The key to a happy life . . . is a healthy brain

From the outside, it looked like Dr. Wendy Suzuki had it all. She was a world-renowned neuroscientist. She had been lauded by her peers with many prizes and had produced many highly regarded scientific publications. She had tenure at a top-ranked university, where she also ran her own lab—two of the most difficult and highly coveted positions for any scientist to attain. And yet . . .

Wendy was forty, frumpy, and focused on her work one hundred percent of the time. She was single, overwhelmed by her responsibilities, and often found herself in uncomfortable, strained interactions with everyone around her. To put it simply, Wendy Suzuki needed to change her life.

She set out on a journey that would transform her body, her mind, and her brain. The first step was exercise and creating a regime that would make her body more fit. In the process, Wendy found herself focusing better, working smarter, and getting more accomplished in a shorter amount of time. As her body changed, her determination grew. Wendy set out to build a more vibrant social life, spark her creativity, and engage in meditation and other mindful activities—using her expertise in neuroscience to pinpoint exactly how these actions not only made her brain work better but also made her feel, well, happy. In Healthy Brain, Happy Life, Wendy Suzuki makes the ultimate mind-body-spirit connection and shows that everything she did for her body changed her brain—and her life—for the better.

Healthy Brain, Happy Life is an accessible blend of memoir and science narrative that will transform the way you think about your brain, your health, and your personal happiness. Through both groundbreaking brain research and personal stories, Wendy offers practical and fascinating ways to improve memory, engage the mind more deeply, and learn new skills that will ultimately transform your body and your life.

About the Author

Wendy Suzuki, PhD, runs an interactive research lab at New York University, where her work has been recognized with numerous awards including the prestigious Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences. She is a two-time TEDx speaker and is regularly interviewed in the media. She lectures nationally and internationally on her research and serves as a reviewer for many of the top neuroscience journals. She lives in New York City.

Billie Fitzpatrick has coauthored numerous books, including several New York Times bestsellers. She specializes in mind-body health, neuroscience, nutrition, and diet and fitness.

Read more about  Healthy Brain, Happy Life on Amazon.

Healthy Brain, Happy Life by Wendy Suzuki

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Learn Something New Every Day: Choose a New Topic Each Month

Mental Fitness, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

Heron

Beautiful Heron: Birds are one of my personal favorite “subjects”

As you probably know by now, it is vital to stay mentally active if you want to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. VITAL. Unfortunately, most people seem perfectly content with the knowledge they have stored and seem to have zero concern about adding to the reserves.

This kind of thinking isn’t just difficult to comprehend (I mean, why wouldn’t you want to learn new things?), it’s downright dangerous.

Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge – and if you need one, it’s my hope that this post will provide it.

An easy and fun way to learn new things is to pick different topics each month – then, each day of that particular month, read all you can about your chosen topic.

At the end of each day, quiz yourself by asking, “What did I learn today?

The following subjects have been my some of my favorite themes over the years:

  • The American Revolution
  • John Adams
  • Abigail Adams
  • Moses
  • Cleopatra
  • Noah
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Baseball
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Spiders
  • Bird Identification
  • Kentucky
  • Countries of the World’s Capitals
  • USA Capitals
  • Ancient Rome
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Martin Luther
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The Romanov Family
  • Medicinal Herbs
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • John Wayne movies
  • Billy the Kid
  • Polar Bears
  • Lucille Ball
  • Cats – how large cats and house cats are similar

Yes, John Wayne movies and Lucille Ball! Who says learning has to be stuffy? Simply pick anything that interests you and DIG DEEPER. Research it until you are a walking/talking expert. If you’re an avid fan of comic strips, learn about the different illustrators. Love motorcycles? Learn about the history of motorcycles and how they’re put together.

I’m a huge fan of old movies. After watching a golden oldie, I’ll research the stars and learn more about them. I’ll see what other movies they starred in, who their co-stars were, etc.   I may or may not ever “draw upon” the information I uncover, but that isn’t the point. The point is I’m keeping my brain cells buzzing.

But here’s the rub… the place where most people tend to get tripped up: You should NOT stay within one niche. If, over the years, I only read about and researched stars and movies in the Golden Age of Hollywood, my brain wouldn’t feel challenged. It’d get settled into one of the most dangerous neighborhoods for a brain to settle down in – “Comfortable.” That’s why I try to throw my brain a variety of subjects.  As someone who loves history and animals even more than old movies, I tend to gravitate toward history, historical figures, animals, birds, and even spiders. While this gives me a lot of “neighborhoods,” I know that the true magic happens when I throw my brain something it NEVER, EVER expected.  One month when I decided to learn more about geography, I could almost feel my brain do a double take. Geography was one of my least favorite subjects in school and a subject I’ve avoided since.

Needless to say, it took some effort to delve into countries, mountain ranges, capitals, and rivers. However, by the end of the month, I KNEW I’d given my brain quite a workout and… I’ll let you in on a little secret… not only was it not painful, it was pretty fascinating.

I hope you’ll begin focusing on different opportunities to dig deeper and learn more. Your brain will love you for it.

Make each moment count double,

~ Joi

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Wonderful Book About Overcoming Depression: Rise from Darkness

Depression

If you or someone you care about is dealing with depression, there’s a wonderful new book that could literally change everything. Rise from Darkness by Kristian Hall is outstanding from cover to cover.  The author, himself, has dealt firsthand with depression and, admirably, is doing his part to help others find the happiness he has fought so hard for.

Read my book review on Self Help Daily for more information.

Rise from Darkness Paths Out of Depression Toward Happiness

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Review: Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book That Kicks Anxiety and Stress Out of Town!

Anxiety, Books and Reviews, Inspiration, Relaxation, Stress

Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book

Switch Up Crayons and Coloring Pencils for Different Results

As I pointed out in my last post, we’re going to spend a great deal of 2016 focusing on handling stress, coping with anxiety, and creating a more relaxing environment in which to live.  One of the first things to notice about these three subjects is the first word in each.. handling, coping, and creating. Action verbs – meaning what?

You guessed it, it’s in your hands, you have to take a proactive step in bringing about the changes you want to bring about. I’m especially excited to bring you a book review today that’ll put relaxation in your hands. Literally!

I’m sure you’ve seen the plethora of new adult coloring books on the market. They’re actually a brainstorm and – get this – they’re something I thought about years ago, but never had the guts to go forward with it.

Ideas? Plenty. Guts? Not so much.

Seriously, though, all that matters is they’re here now. Coloring is one of the most relaxing, peaceful, “anybody can do it” activities in the world. As soon as you begin creating your colorful masterpiece, the cares of the world simply float away.

One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to master the thoughts that cause you to feel anxious. When you focus your attention on creating something beautiful, your anxious thoughts suddenly become colorful, creative thoughts.

There’s simply not a more beautiful way to turn your thinking around!

Whatever Is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship is the most beautiful adult coloring book I’ve seen yet. The intricate details give the artist (that’s me and you) so many opportunities for expression and creativity. While one of the things I love most about this beautiful book is the perfect way it chases stress and anxiety out of town, as a mental fitness priestess, I also LOVE (all caps) the fact that it engages the part of your brain that’s creative and imaginative.

Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book

This Book is FILLED with Beautiful Illustrations 

As adults, this area of our brain often becomes a vast wasteland. We get so busy worrying with the realities of life that we ignore the youthful corner of our brain that just to express itself and live in the moment.

As you’d imagine, it’s unspeakably unhealthy for ANY part of our brain to become a wasteland. For optimum mental fitness and brain health, every corner of our brain should be lively and vivid… engaged and encouraged. Whatever Is Lovely is simply a beautiful opportunity to make sure this very thing happens.

Book Description:

Color your way to peace and worship.

We live in such a busy, hectic world—but what waits for you inside this cover is a way to quiet the noise, express creativity, and spend some sweet time with God. Each page features an original design from one of a dozen different artists, beautifully illustrating a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, a beloved hymn, or Scripture.

When we create, we echo the heart of our Creative God who designed everything and gave us the capacity to recognize beauty.

So go ahead! You have permission to pick up your colored pencil and be reminded of truth in a fresh way.

Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book

Whatever Is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship

 

Not only is this book perfect for unwinding AND ideal for waking up a vital yet dormant area of your brain – it’s also a breath of Spiritual fresh air. The verses, quotes, and up-lifting words, along with the beautiful illustrations revive more than just your creativity, they awaken your Spirituality as well.

I simply cannot say enough wonderful things about this beautiful book – I hope you’ll head over to Amazon and order a copy of Whatever Is Lovely  for yourself right away. It would also make a perfectly beautiful and beautifully perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Christmas, graduation, Christmas… ANYTIME, for ANYONE.

Make each moment count double,

~ Joi

Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are entirely my own.

Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book

Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book

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How to Stay Calm in Stressful Situations (Infographic)

Infographics, Relaxation, Stress

This month, we’re beginning a series of articles, posts, and book reviews devoted to the following ALL IMPORTANT Topics:

  • Relaxation
  • Overcoming Stress
  • Silencing Anxiety

While regular articles dealing with improving your brain’s health, preventing Alzheimer’s Disease, brain food, etc. will continue, there’ll definitely be an influx of information geared toward helping you deal with stress and anxiety while creating a world that’s a relaxing place in which to live.  2016, on Out of Bounds, is going to be the year of Year of Relaxation and I can’t wait to get started.

What better way to kick things off than with a fun infographic? The infographic below is filled with great tips for remaining calm in stressful situations.  I, personally, find the following suggestions to be EXTRA helpful in stressful situations:

  • Focus on your breathing.
  • Focus on the positives.

Enjoy the great infographic from Pound Place!

Make each moment count double,

~ Joi

Courtesy of: Pound Place

 

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How Your Sleep Could Help Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Healthy Living, Mental Fitness, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Alexa

Our Sleeping Position Can Help Us More Than We Realize

We already know how important it is to get a good night’s rest – not only for our physical and emotional well-being, but for our mental health as well.  As an asthmatic, I’ve always found that I breathe best when I’m lying on a side. It opens the airways much better.

Individuals with GERD and sleep apnea also find life much easier when they sleep on their side.

A new study takes the benefits of sleep one step further by showing that our sleep position can actually help reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s AND Parkinson’s Disease.

Not only is sleeping on your side better for your breathing and digestive system, it’s beneficial to your brain as well.

This exciting new  study  (from Stony Brook University) shows that “lateral sleeping” (sleeping on your side) aids your body in removing the brain’s waste products, which naturally build up over the course of the day. Sleeping on your side allows your body to perform this task more efficiently and completely.

It’s when this waste builds up that we run into higher risks of neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Our mission at Out of Bounds is to find and report any and all steps we can take that’ll help put the odds in our favor when it comes to preventing mental decline, memory loss, dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s Disease. When the steps are as simple to implement as this one, we cant’ help but get a little excited.

If you’re accustomed to sleeping on your back or stomach, switching to your side may take a little getting used to. But I think it’s safe to say, the rewards are more than worth it!

Make each moment count double,

~ Joi (“Joy”)

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How to Stop a Panic Attack

Anxiety, Conditions

From what I hear, a panic attack is one of the most frightening experiences you can have. The helplessness and sense of impending doom leave the victim feeling out of control of their own emotions and unable to control their own thoughts.

Fortunately, an expert – with firsthand experience with panic attacks – has a game plan that’ll put you back in control.  Share this link with anyone you know who has battled panic attacks.  The article has the potential to be a real life changer.

See: 10 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack by Therese Borchard

Infographic: Early Birds vs Night Owls + Why Sleep is Important

Infographics

Sleep Infographic

Source: Affordable Schools

Why Stress is Something You Need to Deal With NOW

Anxiety, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Relaxation, Stress

Quote Image About Living in the Moment
Some things are scary – while other things are SCARY. 

scary – spiders, snakes, heights, stomach flu, zombies, root canals…

SCARY – Alzheimer’s Disease, Heart Attacks, Cancer

Big difference between the two groups, as far as I’m concerned. Here’s something else that’s frightening – stress greatly increases your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. An eye-opening new study was recently published in the journal Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System found that people who have a lot of stress in their life are more than  twice as likely to suffer from cognitive impairment at some point down the road.

While this is certainly startling and even alarming news, it’s also encouraging in a sense. We are always looking for ways to decrease our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, after all. What these researchers have done is provided us a way to do just that. By implementing stress-relieving changes in our lives, we can take a giant step in preventing cognitive decline.

Mindy Katz, co-author of the study, puts it this way: “Perceived stress can be altered by mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapies and stress-reducing drugs,” she said. “These interventions may postpone or even prevent an individual’s cognitive decline.”

While having a new strategy is encouraging, it will take work. That’s why I want to start looking more closely at stress and anxiety on Out of Bounds, as well as my self help blog Self Help Daily.

Assess Your Level of Stress

First of all, you need to know the enemy before you handle the enemy. How much stress do you have in your life? Asking the following questions can help get your thoughts pointed in the right direction:

  1. Do you have an especially stressful job? I say especially stressful because you could make a case for all jobs being stressful. One way to look at it is this: Do you feel more stressed about your job than you enjoy it? Does the thought of your job cause your muscles to tense? If so, you certainly need to find ways to alleviate work-related stress.
  2. Do find yourself unable to handle stress as well as you once handled it?
  3. Do you tend to get stressed out for other people and their lives as well as your own?
  4. Do you feel stress at home?
  5. Does watching the news cause you to feel stress?
  6. Do you feel stress and anxiety when you’re on social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram..)

When it comes to “handling” stress, some people are able to handle it better when they’re younger. They reach a certain age and wonder why things that used to rate (on a scale of 1-10) a 4 now blow right past 10. Fluctuating hormones, vitamin deficiencies, fluctuating testosterone levels, interrupted sleep cycles – all of these can contribute to whether you handle stress or it handles you.

If you feel an unusual amount of stress at home or work, do your best to get to the root of the problem. If you’re aiming for perfection among humans , here’s a reality check…. it ain’t going to happen!  We all (make that ALL) have good traits and bad traits, strengths and weaknesses. There are things we each do well and things we each fail at miserably. Instead of focusing on other people’s shortcomings or what you perceive as “not good enough,” look at their strengths.  Doing so doesn’t “let them win” or “approve” of everything about them.  Focusing on the good benefits YOU, not THEM.

You are the one allowing their imperfections to transform into stress in your life.  I don’t know about you, but that makes me think of willingly drinking poison. Aren’t we all smarter than that?

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

Here’s something I figured out long ago that has always served me well when I feel tempted to feel anxious about someone else’s idiosyncrasies or behavior:  Many times what we perceive as someone’s weakest trait is actually a springboard to their greatest trait.  If that doesn’t beg for an example nothing does, so  here goes:

  1. Often an individual who is a Type A will drive us Type Bs nuts with their busyness. We find ourselves thinking and possibly even saying, “Sit down. Be still. For the love of all that’s peaceful and quiet, stay out of stuff.” But here’s the thing – they get stuff done.  They flat out get stuff done and come through for us almost every single time. They may seem super-charged to us most of the time, but we usually benefit from the results.
  2. Type Bs often infuriate Type As with our low-key way of approaching each day. To them, I’m certain we sometimes look like we’re asleep at the wheel even when we’re what we consider “wide awake” and very much on point.  One thing for a Type A to realize is this – the more rooted into a Type B personality an individual is, the less stress-inducing they will be. A “solid” Type B doesn’t nag, yell, complain, or pick at people. This type of personality is generally easy-going and while that may irritate a Type A at times, they would do themselves a world of good to look at it from that standpoint.

The bottom line is we’re all different and to try to change another person’s personality isn’t just fundamentally wrong, it’s fundamentally……. well…  dumb.

Learn to Let Go

When it comes to dealing with stress in any area of your life, you’ll do yourself (and your health) a world of good if you learn to let go of things you cannot control. How your adult son wears his hair, the gossiping co-worker, the receptionist’s Iron Man tattoo, your boss’ glowing inadequacies, traffic, your daughter-in-law’s horrifying cooking…. there’s a really cute saying that goes, “Not my monkey, not my circus.”

This saying may be the best thing to snap you back into “your lane” when you venture into someone else’s. The saying is light-hearted and fun which can further serve to put a smile on your face.

That always looks and feels much better than a scowl.

If social media, in general, causes you to feel anxious or stressful, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” If, for example, being on Facebook or Twitter cause you to feel angry (come on, let’s be honest, there are a lot of infuriating people out there!), ask yourself if the good outweighs the bad. Instagram and Pinterest are IDEAL for people who get stressed out by social media. Why? Fewer expressed opinions. If you feel that there is enough “good” derived from the news and/or social media to counter the negative effects, find a way to cope with what you don’t like.
  2. When it comes to social media, a lot of it is simply unfollowing the wrong people and following the right ones! If you follow “negative Nannies” or people who express opinions vastly different from your own… unfollow them asap. I’ve found that this one thing alone makes the experience SO MUCH sweeter. Search our similar-minded people who are good-natured and fun to follow. They’ll impact your experience greatly.
  3. Many people get “anxious” when they post something controversial or extremely opinionated. If this is the case, for you, stick to posting about cats, recipes, coffee, baseball.. avoid politics and news.

If watching the news causes stress and anxiety (Heavens, how could it not?), maybe you could start reading a newspaper instead. When your get your news from a newspaper, you can choose what you want to read about and what you don’t. With news on television, goodness knows they’ll force the most unGodly events down your throat imaginable.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”  – Winnie the Pooh

A Few Ways to De-Stress and Reduce Anxiety:

  • Pets are incredible in just about every conceivable way. They’re like little family members that we choose for ourselves. Not only do they provide companionship and entertainment, they give us something to focus on rather than ourselves. Whether it’s a cat, dog, fish, chinchilla, hamster, turtle, horse, or (if you’re braver than me) reptile – a pet is my personal favorite way to escape from perceived stress.
  • Researchers say that the act of chewing gum reduces stress and anxiety. They don’t know whether it’s the increased blood flow to your brain, the simple repetitive act, or the scent of the gum, itself. Probably a combination of all. It’s a simple enough thing to implement into your day, whatever the reason behind its effectiveness.
  • Go outdoors. Being in the great outdoors – with its sights, scents, and sounds – brings about a sense of calm. Whether you walk around your yard bundled up in winter or half-dressed in summer, the effects are often all that’s needed to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Breathe. During stressful times, we all but forget to breathe sometimes! Right after I lost my mother to an unexpected illness, I was reading an article about deep breathing.  The author wrote something to the effect of, “Pay attention to your breathing right now..”  I did and realized that I was actually holding my breath! Not only was I not inhaling fresh oxygen in, followed by a cleansing release – I was shutting off the entrance and the exit. Try to pay close attention to your breathing over the coming days – you might just notice that you’re doing the same thing. Breathe deeply… it feels wonderful!
  • Try to stay positive. Yes, there are bills to pay, hideous news on a daily basis, and often seemingly endless problems to deal with. But focusing on them only increases their potential to harm you. It worsens their bite. Proactively deal with the things you can deal with, let go of the ones beyond your control (remember to mind your own circus monkeys!), and always look for reasons to smile. If the only thing you can think of right now to smile about is that baseball will be back in summer… by gosh, focus on that!
  • Get active. There’s something therapeutic about activity. Clean the house, take a 15 minute walk, wash your car, or hope on the exercise bike. It doesn’t matter what you do, only that you do.
  • A picture is worth a thousand positive words.  Find a picture of a relaxing scene and keep it close by. Generally speaking,  a place or thing is preferable to a person because people often come with too many thoughts. “I wonder what she’s doing right now… I wonder what he meant when he said such-and-such…”  A peaceful setting, a beautiful painting, or a picture of candles are great places to start. Use one as your phone or computer’s background, keep it in your phone’s photo album, or frame it and set it on your desk. Find something that makes you feel relaxed – you’ll know it when you see it.
  • Put a sock in it! Kidding, of course. Well, half-kidding. When we engage in negative talk and endless complaining, we’re basically spreading germs. We’re causing just as much potential harm as if we’d sneezed all over a roomful of people. Here’s the thing, though, this negative talk hurts the speaker more than the listeners.  Think about someone you know who is uncommonly negative. They don’t like any restaurant – and if they did, by gosh, it’s too expensive, They don’t like any topic of conversation you bring up. They don’t like any of their co-workers and they aren’t sure about 90 percent of their own family. How fun are they to be around?! It feels almost toxic to be in their presence, doesn’t it? Now think about this: What if YOU ARE THEM? You wouldn’t be able to escape yourself anywhere you went. Heck, you even keep the same sleep schedule!  When you give voice to negative and critical thoughts, you are reinforcing them – whether you are saying them aloud to others or silently to yourself.
  • Air it out! On the flip side of the point above, try spreading positivity, optimism, and general goodwill. If you’ve been a Negative Nancy for sometime, you may catch people off-guard until they grow accustomed to the new you, but you’ll surely get some amusement from their expressions.  Focus on the positive aspects of life and see where it takes you.

I will have more articles coming hot and heavy on the subject of stress and anxiety. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so I hope you’ll check back regularly.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Make each moment count double,

~ Joi (“Joy”)

Voltaire Quote

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Strengthen Your Brain: It’s Easier Than You Think and More Important Than You Realize

Improve Your Memory, Mental Fitness, Motivational, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy
When it comes to strengthening your brain, it’s all about challenge. You have to challenge your brain cells to go further than they did yesterday.  Think of challenging your brain cells as stretching your brain.

It keeps your mind sharp!

People who regularly (notice that’s not “every now and then”) engage in mentally challenging activities are much less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.  If that’s not incentive enough, I don’t think anything will be. Preventing dementia, including its scariest form, Alzheimer’s Disease, should be at the top of everyone’s list.

Below are just a few ways to challenge your brain and give it the workout that it craves.

  • Read more. Whether you take up reading historical non-fiction or Agatha Christie mysteries (my two personal favorite types of books), read twice as much as you normally do. Newspapers, educational magazines, and even educational websites all count as well. Just read twice as much as you normally read and, whenever possible, “stretch” your brain cells further by reading about subjects that are new to you. If you don’t normally read about cooking – devour as many culinary articles as possible. If history isn’t something you’re familiar with, research historical events or individuals that are interesting to you.
  • Listen to the podcasts. Some podcasts can be mentally stimulating. Whether they’re sermons by Dr. Tony Evans or podcasts relating to your field of work or interest, listen and take notes.
  • Play a game. Scrabble, Trivia Pursuit, Monopoly, Life… they’re all mentally stimulating and (especially if you haven’t played them in a while) can stretch your brain. Learning a NEW game is even more effective. Did you know that the brain actually loves video games? The trick is not to take one activity and obsess over it. Your brain needs variety – not the same thing day in/day out. That’s actually the danger zone.  Let your code words be variety and challenge.
  • Visit more historical sites, battlefields, and museums. Read the literature, observe the scenery, and take it all in. There’s a huge, fascinating world out there – broaden your horizons and stretch your mind.
  • Tackle Genealogy. Exploring your family history isn’t just exciting and fun, it’s mentally challenging – which is what we’re after.  Read up on the subject with a great book like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy, then put on your detective’s cap. It’s more rewarding than you can imagine.
  • Throw “Plot Twists” to Your Brain! It may seem unusual, but our minds LOVE to be caught off guard – and when they’re caught off guard, they’re stimulated and challenged. These plot twists can be things like taking a different route to work or the store, using your other hand to eat, closing your eyes when you navigate around the room (just be careful, please, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am), etc. Even something as small as brushing your teeth with your other hand gets your brain cells’ attention.
  • Challenge Your Senses. Researchers at Duke University created exercises they call “neurobics,” which challenge your brain to think in new ways. The concept is that, since your senses dictate our brain’s activities, mixing things up with your senses can stimulate your brain. With this in mind, use each of your senses when you perform the “plot twists” mentioned above. Here’s a fun little exercise – the next time you’re in a store, head for the candles aisle. Without looking on the label, try to determine a candle’s scent.  You’ll find that it’s a little more challenging than you think! You can challenge your taste sense by guessing jellybean flavors or trying to decode the ingredients in a dish.
  • Be Sure You Get Enough Activity. It doesn’t have to be jogging or workouts at the gym, any physical activity increases the blood supply to the brain and improves activity between brain cells.  Your brain doesn’t know if you’re moving because you’re doing housework or because you’re on the track – all it knows is that you are in fact moving and it likes it.
  • Eat Brain-Healthy Food. One rule of thumb is this: If the food is healthy for your heart, it’s healthy for your brain. Some general guidelines – Grill or bake food instead of frying it, eat more colorful vegetables and fruit, have fish more often (several times a week), add nuts to your diet (the brain loves walnuts)…
  • DEAL WITH STRESS in a healthy way. I’m actually working on an article on this very subject which I should have published today or tomorrow.  Research is showing that stress and anxiety are devastating to our brains. Finding a way to relax and handle stress does more than protect your quality of life, it will protect your length of life and it will help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Be Sure to Get Enough Sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  We’ve become such a goal-oriented, “get it done” society that we’re overlooking one vital necessity – a great night’s sleep.

Make each moment count!

~ Joi

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