Friday, October 30, 2020

Burnout-Balance Link

Burnout is a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress—typically due to a life out of balance. Burnout triggers a sense of being overwhelmed from being unable to meet all the constant demands made of you. Burnout leads to lowered energy levels, fatigue and exhaustion, and can push you to be reactive rather than proactive. As your self-confidence and enjoyment in life collapse, so can your health and well-being, to say nothing of your relationships and goals. Those who crash and burn are often those who think they are super-heroes who can and must do everything and do it flawlessly. No such people really exist in the long term—except on paper and in cartoon series. Many think that living in balance means spending the same amount of time on each segment of life that is important to you. Big mistake. Some areas need more time than others, some less. The problem arises when you neglect important areas of life, which if not balanced will negatively influence your ability to be successful and happy: sleep, exercise, good nutrition, fun and play, quality time with family and friends—and with yourself to think and envision.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Twins: Balance & Boundaries

Some have referred to balance as the ultimate goal. That may be pretty close. But balance has a twin: boundaries. Siamese twins. In her book A Life in Balance Dr. Kathleen A. Hall wrote: “We have overstretched our personal boundaries and forgotten that true happiness comes from living an authentic life fueled with a sense of purpose and balance.” Evaluate your mental, emotional, physical, sexual, social, financial, educational, spiritual, and romantic boundaries, to name just a few. Are they too tight, too loose, nonexistent, or just right for you and a high-level healthiness lifestyle? Developing and implementing bona fide boundaries can help you keep your life in bona fide balance. Your boundaries are as individual as your brain and your thumbprint, and your daily choices impact everything. Even not making a decision is a decision. This is especially true when it comes to understanding how to age-proof your brain. You can only do what you know. Evaluate what needs to be tweaked and begin making desirable lifestyle changes a little at a time. That way your improvements will be more likely to last!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Find Balance

Thomas Merton said that happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony. Balance. According to Daniel G. Amen MD, author of Magnificent Mind at any Age, a magnificent mind begins with a balanced brain. A state of imbalance can leave your brain fatigued, discouraged, irritated, and screaming for relief. This can put you at increased risk for any number of brain dysfunctions, illnesses, or disease. You and your brain must identify your own priorities and find your own balance.

can be hard to find. Nevertheless, it is a goal worth pursuing. Life is constantly changing so finding balance is somewhat of a moving target. What is right for you now may not be right next week or next month or even next year, because priorities change over time. If you are struggling with ‘where the times goes,’ jot down for a few days what you are spending your time doing. This will help you identify and evaluate whether you’re allocating your time in the most productive or desirable way—based on your personal and professional goals. You may need to re-evaluate those goals. Some may no longer be realistic or even desirable. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Homeostatsis - or Balance

I keep hearing the words homeostasis in relation to health. Please help me understand what that means.

A synonym for homeostasis is balance. Pure and simple is means balance. Live a balanced life if you want to be healthy. Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, put it this way: “Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw some and paint some, and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” It means you have a handle on the various key elements in your life and do not sense that your brain and your heart are in a tug of war. Typically, you’re motivated, think clearly, and are calmly grounded in reality, enjoying most if not all aspects of your life. Likely you’ve seen the pendulum of a grandfather clock swinging back and forth and back and forth. It can be comforting, almost hypnotic. A pendulum that has stopped swinging means the clock has stopped functioning. An erratic pendulum tends to wobble, swing wildly from side to side, or crash into the glass and stop. Much like a well-running grandfather clock, the brain works best in balance—when everything is working congruently. Think of life as your balance beam—each person has one. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Nursing Home or Retirement Center

I keep hearing news items about nursing homes where there are lots of infections. I need a place for my parents where they can get meals fixed for them. Is it safe to go into such a place?

 I applaud you for recognizing your parents need some help. Avoiding painting all facilities with the same brush just because some are run better than others. Do your parents need a Nursing Home or just a Retirement Center? Nursing home differ from Retirement Centers. Many residents of Nursing Homes are already compromised with relatively serious underlying medical conditions. They can easily pick up viruses and can become very sick. If your parents primarily need meals prepared for them, then you might consider a Retirement Center.

If you are considering a Retirement Center get the facts: How many cases of infections have they had, if any? What precautions do they have in place? It actually may be safer in terms of exposure during an epidemic or pandemic since even meals are provided with many other amenities that mean your parents would not even have to leave the facility except for perhaps doctor’s appointments. Check it out and make an informed decision. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Family Health Issues

My family has some pretty serious health issues and I've picked up some bad habits. Is it ever too late to get serious about your health?

I try to avoid saying never. What studies suggest about health and longevity is that the brain and immune system would likely prefer you to be healthy because they do not like to be sick . . . it puts everything out of balance. Health falls slowly—the Immune System tries hard to keep things going. Eventually, however, if the bad habits are linked with serious health issues, the Immune System may fail. Sometimes it may be rebuilt but that takes a lot of time. Some estimate a month for every year of bad habits that suppressed immune system function.

So, my response would be, congratulations in recognizing that health issues can result from bad habits. Start now to build better health habits that research has shown helps support the Immune System—before long you may surprise even yourself. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Preventable Dementia


Recently I heard someone say that some dementia is preventable and some is even reversible. Is that really possible?

Studies suggest that this is true. Some dementia is believed due to a lazy brain. What is a lazy brain? Sitting in front of the TV for 12 hours a day, for example. When you watch TV you are passively picturing what another brain created. failing to take time to regularly challenge and stimulate your brain, is another. Reading, playing games, listening to audiobooks, doing crossword or jig saw puzzles require active mental picturing and that keeps the neuron pathways in the brain better able to transmit information, with small spaces or synapses between neurons. If you regularly challenge and stimulate your brain, you may prevent dementia related to lazy brain. And/or you may extend the time before dementia sets in. A lazy brain that starts challenging itself—if caught in time—can often prevent this type of dementia.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Generational Diabetes


Diabetes has run in our family for several generations. Am I doomed to develop diabetes?

 Not necessarily. Nature or genetics is estimated to account for about 30% of how long and how well you live. Some genetic pieces are a done deal: your eye and hair color (which you can change with eye contacts and by bleaching or dying your hair). Your height and bone size, not so much. Your IQ is a range so you can potentially raise your IQ by 5-30 points if you want to work on it. Other genetic pieces predispose you to certain things or increase your risk for them happening but do force that to happen, Enter Epigenetics, meaning above genetics, which encompasses everything that is not genetics including lifestyle. Finding out what types of lifestyle choices increase or decrease your risk, and choosing those that decrease your risk can even impact your genetic disposition. Meaning, building a lifestyle that includes choices that have been shown to help lower a risk of diabetes can definitely work in your favor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Blue Light Waves Protection

Blue light waves from the sun are here to stay—at least for the foreseeable future. Blue light waves from electronics are here to stay, too, and more types of electronics are being invented. It is possible to enjoy the benefits of sunlight—and you couldn’t live without it—and benefit from electronics and still minimize the hazards. Consider:

1.    When out in bright sun wear dark glasses (along with a hat when at the beach or out in the middle of the day) to help reduce the blue waves that reach the retina

When using electronics: 

            ·         Look “up and away” into the distance every few minutes

·         Consciously blink more frequently

·         Stay well hydrated to help keep eyeballs moisturized

·         Use blue-light-blocking glasses or screens to reduce the blue waves that reach the retina

·         Get up and move around for a couple of minutes every 30 minutes of screen time

            ·         Create and live a balanced lifestyle that includes disconnecting from electronics 

                 for some period every day 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Increasing Exposure to Blue Light Waves

Researchers say that while filters in human eye such as the cornea and the lens do a decent job of blocking ultraviolet rays from reaching the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye, those filters do not block natural or artificial blue light from reaching the retina. That is the reason it is important to wear sunglasses when out in the bright sun. Some are also choosing to wear special blue-light blocking glasses or screen protectors when using electronic devices. Studies have shown that exposing your eyes to a digital device for two consecutive hours can cause eyestrain and fatigue—to say nothing of exposure to artificial blue light waves. Estimates are that 60 percent of people who use electronic devices spent an average of six hours a day viewing a screen. That’s a great deal of unprotected exposure to artificial blue light waves—and no one really knows what this is doing to the developing brain and eyes. It is even more problematic now that people are sequestering at home, working remotely, and kids are trying to go to school electronically.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Artificial Electronic Blue Light Waves

Because they are shorter, Artificial Electronic Blue Light Waves or High Energy Visible (HEV) wavelengths flicker more easily than longer, weaker wavelengths. This type of flickering creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast and affect sharpness and clarity. This flickering and glaring may be one of the reasons for eyestrain, headaches, along with physical and mental fatigue caused by many hours sitting in front of a computer screen or other electronic device. Natural filters in the human eye do not provide enough protection against blue wave light rays from the sun, let alone the blue light emanating from these devices and from fluorescent-light tubes. Prolonged exposure to blue light may cause retinal damage and contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of vision over time. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Blue-Violet Wave Sunlight

The sun gives off a natural form of blue light waves that appears blue turquoise in the visible light spectrum. This has slightly lower energy and a corresponding lower potential to cause damage. Filters in the human eye are better able to filter out this natural source of blue light, although wearing dark glasses when out in bright sunlight is recommended for prevention. So, what is the problem? Technology! The closer blue light waves fall toward the Blue-Indigo end of the visible spectrum, the more risk they pose to your eye health. These are the type of blue light waves that emit from the LED screens of computers and smartphones and tablets and so on. These highest energy blue light waves can cause the most damage to your macula. With the huge increase in LED screen time in recent decades, human eyes are being asked to handle vast amounts of artificial blue light waves, putting a serious strain on vision. 

Retina & its Macula


 Perhaps the subtlest and potentially the most serious risk of blue light is long-term damage to your macula. The macula is the central area of the retina and is of particular interest to retina specialists. The macula is an oval-shaped pigmented area near the center of the retina. Remember, that the retina is the light sensitive tissue which lines the inside of the eye. The macula is the functional center of the retina. Over time, exposure to the sun’s blue light can lead to thinning of your macula, which can accelerate your eyes’ aging process, leading to age-related macular degeneration or AMD. A vision impairment resulting from deterioration of the central part of retina, it is quite common in the US, with more than 3 million cases per year. This disease often appears as blurred spots in your vision and cause central vision loss. Some of it can be preventable! Here’s the main problem: not all blue light waves are created equal. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Sunlight & the Retina


When sunlight enters the eye, it strikes the light-sensitive retina. Remember, the retina is part of the central nervous system (CNS) and is connected to the brain via the optic nerve. The retina contains different types of cells. The photoreceptor cells are sensitive to light. No doubt you’ve heard of rods and cones. These cells are specialized neurons in the human eye. Rods are more sensitive to light and help you see under low-light conditions. They do not process color vision, however. Cones are capable of color vision and are responsible for high spatial acuity. They need more light to produce a correct signal, however, so may find it difficult to process color on a dark night outdoors. The photosensitive ganglion cells in the retina, discovered only in the past decade or so, communicate not only with the master circadian pacemaker or clock located in the brain’s hypothalamus (known as the suprachiasmatic nuclei or SCN) but also impact many other brain areas that are known to be involved in the regulation of several functions including your health.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Blue Light Waves

I’m pretty sure I read a something you wrote a year or two ago that mentioned “blue light.” Can you expand on that? I don’t understand blue light at all. Moreover, I have no idea how that impacts me postively or negatively.

If you search the Internet for the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Some pictures clearly show the position of the colors that are also often seen in a rainbow. Imagine cutting a horizontal slice from a rainbow and placing it in a straight line. From left to right the human eye can see violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. The colors run into each other without clear demarcations between each one. There is a band of blue light on the spectrum, which has one of the shortest and highest-energy wave lengths. Blue light waves are everywhere. Did you ever wonder the reason the sky looks blue? When the sun’s rays travel through the atmosphere, the high-energy blue waves crash into the air molecules, scattering blue light everywhere. Blue light waves from the sun helps you feel alert, be in a pleasant mood, strengthen your immune system, and regulate your circadian rhythm. Whenever you are out of doors, you can be exposed to blue light wherever the sun’s rays can reach you.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Sleep & Electronics

I read somewhere that electronics should not be kept in the bedroom. What is that all about? I fall asleep with the TV on every night! Couldn’t go to sleep without it. What’s the problem?

 There are studies that show a link between electronics in the bedroom and restless or lower quality sleep. The recommendation is to keep all electronics out of the bedroom. Period. If you take your mobile phone into the bedroom, turn it off when you go to bed. Studies have shown that people who used mobile devices late at night were more depleted the next morning and less engaged at work. Another study found that people who responded to text messages or other alerts after they had turned in for the night had poorer sleep quality, which in turn predicted symptoms of anxiety and depression. Loss of sleep or poor sleep quality will not help one cope with the conditions on Planet Earth, much less risk an increase in anxiety and depression. Researchers say that filters in human eye such as the cornea and the lens do not block natural or artificial blue light from reaching the retina. Wearing blue-light-blocking glasses when you do use electronics can be important and helpful. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Brain & Quality Sleep

According to associate professor neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Rachel Salas, MD, some sleeping positions and sleeping habits may be more beneficial than others. For example, sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem. It involves episodes where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts. This interferes with the amount of oxygen your brain receives, which impacts how your brain and body function. No surprise you may have difficulty staying asleep (insomnia), experience loud snoring (which may cause relationship problems when your partner becomes sleep-deprived), excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia), waking with a dry mouth, morning headache. If you have any of these symptoms, you may be wise to obtain a medical evaluation. Sleeping on one’s side may help keep your airways open, reduce snoring, and alleviate mild apnea.

 Using Big Five personality traits, researchers followed 22,000 American and Japanese adults for over 10 years. The ones who slept poorly tended to become less conscientious over time. The ones who slept best were the least neurotic. It is worth doing whatever it takes to achieve quality sleep.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Brain & Sleeping Positions


I heard some cockamamie story about the fetus being short of oxygen depending on the mother’s sleeping position. Can you believe that?

 If you accept the definition of cockamamie as ridiculous or implausible, then it is perhaps an unfortunate word for your question. According to Rachel Salas, MD, associate professor neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, as a person becomes older and has more medical issues, sleep position can become positive or negative. It can impact much younger humans, however. Even a fetus. A side-sleeping position tends to be the most common, also called a lateral sleeping position by sleep scientists. It has been found to have some benefits. There is a left lateral and a right lateral option, however. Here are a few study findings.

 1.    Sleeping on one’s left side, for example:

 Maximizes circulation for mother and fetus, especially during the 3rd trimester (lying on one’s back can actually be dangerous for the fetus even for short periods of time)

May clear brain waste more efficiently 

Helps lessen gastric reflux for those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

 May help to alleviate or reduce snoring

 2.    Sleeping on one’s right side tends to be a better option for those with congestive heart failure 

Whatever position you choose, sleep in a dark room to avoid interfering with melatonin production (e.g., black-out drapes or soft eye patches). Open the drapes or go outside in the morning and allow sunlight to enter your eyes to reset your internal circadian clock.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

What's in Your Glass? Part 2

Metaphorically, your brain is your “glass.” When you experience trauma or an event that could be disruptive or have a communication misunderstanding, or something triggers unhappy memories from childhood, think of brain as having just been bumped into. What spills out is whatever was in your brain. If the contents involves “low levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ),” your brain will spill out JOT behaviors such as Jumping to conclusions, Overreacting, and Taking things personally—behaviors that will likely give you negative outcomes that may involve some “messes” that will take some doing to clean up (if they even can be cleaned up). If the contents of your brain involves “high levels of EQ skills,” it will spill out AAA behaviors that will likely avoid or minimize conflict, be reasonable, will result in positive outcomes, and create very few messes. Bottom line: no person forces you exhibit dysfunctional behaviors. The behaviors that you exhibit—that come out of your brain—are ones that were already in there. Fill your glass—your brain—with care. In adulthood, what it contains is largely your choice.

Monday, October 5, 2020

What's in Your Glass?


My siblings often do things that make me mad and then I say and do things that later I am sorry for. I heard you say that no one forces you to exhibit dysfunctional behaviors. Then where do they come from?

Excellent question. There is an old saying, “Every pathology has an ecology,” meaning that dysfunctional behaviors do not come from a vacuum. All behaviors come out some part of the brain: conscious thought, emotional impulses, or stress fight-flight areas. Here is one metaphor that might help describe this phenomenon. Imagine that you are holding a glass of lemonade and someone bumps into you. You exclaim: “Hey, you made me spill my lemonade.” Is that really true? Probably not. The person who bumped into you triggered a movement that resulted in you spilling something. You spilled lemonade only because lemonade was in your glass. If water had been in your glass, you would have spilled water. If it had been chocolate milk, cola, wine, orange juice—you would have spilled that. More tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Effective Daydreaming

Three general types of daydreaming have been described:

  •  Distractible daydreaming: low levels of attention control and difficulty concentrating can lead to low levels of conscientiousness, the personality trait most often linked with success
  • Dysphoric daydreaming: thinking hostile, aggressive fantasies about others, and dwelling on anxiety, gilt, fear of failure, and obsessive negative thoughts.
  • Dynamic daydreaming: This is linked with positivity, openness to new experiences, using imagination to explore new and useful ideas—in almost any genre. This type has been linked with happiness and high levels of creativity.

 If you want to become involved in an area you love, imagine in your mind’s eye what that would look like. Then do something constructive every day to move yourself toward that vision—sitting there waiting for gold to drop in your lap is generally unhelpful. Sure, something may fall into your lap:  autumn leaves, raindrops, bird droppings . . . but it may have nothing to do with your vision and aim. Stay positive. If one idea doesn’t work, try another. You may not “run the company,” but you may find yourself in a very rewarding branch of said company—or you may even you start your own! Be willing to collaborate. It is said that Edison worked with 14 other inventors and thousands of experiments to perfect the filament for incandescent light bulbs. The sky is the limit. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Daydreaming & Creativity

Daydreaming is linked with creativity. Einstein reportedly used it frequently. Unfortunately, when watching TV and movies, the brain is “passively picturing” what another brain created—which may be decreasing creativity in children. To flourish, the brain requires “active mental picturing” ¾the brain is actually creating ideas and solutions and not just processing what another brain created. Studies have shown that both excessive screen time and drug use can reduce the amount of gray matter in the frontal cortex, located directly behind the forehead. This can stunt creativity as well as slow the development of Emotional Intelligence skills. From an interview with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg TV, Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame has been quoted as saying that the future is creativity. He believes that the future is not about data scientists or soft-ware writers, but individuals who excel at creative and critical thinking. That is where the jobs will be.