Monday, January 31, 2022

Anxiety Triggers

What triggers anxiety in your mind and how does it show up?

Pure and simple, anxiety (or its twin synonym, worry) is a form of fear. It is triggered when you are afraid that something bad will happen or that something good that you hope happens won’t. It is triggered by imaginary fears, which themselves can be prompted by scary movies. Anxiety never solves anything. It is like a rocking chair. It keeps you occupied and moving—but only in one place. You never really go anywhere. How does anxiety show up? In any number of ways with symptoms such as: Sleep disturbances, Restlessness or feeling on edge, Difficulty concentrating or your  mind going blank, Easily fatigued, Irritable, Nausea, Diarrhea, Sweating, Dizziness, Accelerated heartbeat or palpitations, Muscle tension, Headache, and more. The symptoms are not pleasant. Personally, I am uninterested in experiencing any of them, especially for imaginary fears. That has been a learning process for me since I was raised by a mother who basically lived within the encircling arms of anxiety. Perhaps the bigger issue is that a person can develop the habit of being anxious. Fear stimulates the release of adrenalin. As adrenalin rises, so does dopamine, the feel better chemical to counteract the fearful and anxious feelings. Anxiety can become a habit. It can even become an addiction to your own adrenalin and dopamine.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Rejection & Brain Chemicals

What chemicals are released in your brain when someone is mean to you, especially if it involves rejection?

What a great question! First – The brain may view social rejection with anger, pouring out adrenalin. As adrenalin levels go up, so does dopamine – the chemical to help you feel better. If the person was not aggressive, anger or fear may not be triggered. As far as rejection itself goes, fMRI studies showed that physical pain and social rejection pain activate the parts of the same brain areas because they tend to overlap somewhat. Social rejection appears to piggyback on physical pain pathways in the brain. This may explain the reason that neurologically speaking, social rejection pain hurts so much. A heart ache can be felt as physical pain. Pain signals arrive in the brain through two different pathways. A fast pathway passes through the thalamus where it is triaged and sent to sensory and motor sections of the cerebral cortex for additional processing. The slow pathway passes through the central nervous system to the amygdala, hypothalamus, and the prefrontal cortex. This pathway is linked with the emotional reactions that occur in response to a social-emotional hurt such as the pain of rejection 

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Trauma Recovery

You always “lose” something in a traumatic event.  It could be the loss of feeling safe; the loss of health at least temporarily; perhaps the loss of a brain function or of a body part or even a person you love. Identifying the loss, grieving it, and letting it go, helps heal the pain from the event. To refuse to go through the process means that you allow the person or persons involved with the traumatic event to live rent-free in your brain. It wouldn’t matter to them—but it can matter to you and your health for the rest of your life. Healing from the event involves choosing healthier and thankful replacement thoughts. When you give up something you always get something. Find it and your life can change for the better. It might be knowledge, or verification of something you have experienced previously, or the freedom from something or someone you were inappropriately hanging onto. It could bring an unexpected opportunity or unexpected relief. The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Recovery from Traumatic Events

How can you bounce back from traumatic events?

Experiencing a traumatic event is one thing. Reexperiencing it in living color for the next 50 years by endlessly rehearsing it to yourself and anyone else who will listen is quite another. The more emotive your presentation, the more the traumatic event is fixed in living memory. Some try to repress the memory, but the pain will leak out in other areas of your life. My brain’s opinion is it takes bravery to deal with past traumatic events in a healthy and functional manner. Tell your story to a competent trauma counselor and/or wise trusted friend. Be open to feed back about what you can learn from it or how to prevent a reoccurrence (if at all possible), and then let it go. It’s a done deal. You can’t go back and prevent it. You can’t pretend it didn’t happen. Acknowledge that the traumatic event happened, and then work through the grieving process.  More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Suicide & Brain Pain

The brain processes the emotional hurt of losing a person you love through suicide much as it processes physical pain. The term “a broken heart” is real—loss and perceived rejection is physically painful. In response, the brain releases its natural opiate, endorphins, to help you feel better and to manage the pain. Going through the grieving process for the loss also can help you deal with this social-emotional pain. The good news is that even though you do not have the individual with you in tangible, three-dimensional presence, you still carry them within you. When you have been close to another human being and love him or her very much, their memory is filed inside the nucleus of your cells. You carry the memory of your loved one within you for as long as those cells are alive—which is as long as you are alive. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Suicide & the Brain

How does the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide affect the brain?

 Having a loved friend or relative committee suicide takes the brain on a rollercoaster of emotions. Anger, that they did it and left you; fear, that someone else you care about might do it; and sadness because you suffered a loss. A healthy brain in a balanced state does not kill itself. Period. Even when bad things happen the brain wants to live. It can tenaciously hang on to life—sometimes for years even after a negative diagnosis and terminal diagnosis or prognosis, so called. Suicide likely happens ONLY in a brain that is in an altered state. That can be due to substances, drugs, extreme depression, and so on. In a sense, suicide is both a loss and a social rejection and your brain hurts—much like a physical injury. More tomorrow. 

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Depression and Memory

When you are depressed, do you really lose some of your memory?

 Depression can change the brain. It can alter neuron pathways along which information travels, interrupting the clear transmission of messages—resembling an internet that keeps dropping. It can alter the synapses or spaces between neurons that can interfere with communication between thinking cells. It can shrink the size of the hippocampus, that moves information from short term into long term storage, and then retrieves it when you want to recall it--hopefully. The hippocampus is said to be the most susceptible brain organ to stress. If memories do not get moved into long term storage and you “lose the data,” there is no way to retrieve it. As the hippocampus shrinks with subsequent depressive episode, its search-engine function may falter, and it cannot locate even information that was moved into long term memory. Fortunately, the hippocampi—there are two of them—comprise one of the few parts of the brain that researchers have discovered can create new cells. That’s the reason getting treatment for depression is so critical—and the sooner the better. It is also important to learn effective stress management strategies as stress can trigger anxiety as well as depression. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Hair Products & the Brain

How do chemicals I hair products impact the brain, if at all?

 All substances that touch the skin have the potential to be pulled into the body in at least three ways: directly through the pores, by following a hair shaft down to the follicle, and through following lipid pathways between cells. In terms of an impact to the brain, Permanents and Relaxers contains many chemicals that can seep into the body and once able to enter lymph fluid or blood can spread to any part of the brain and body. The CDC reported that “skin contact represents a significant route of exposure for chemicals that have the potential to be absorbed through the skin and that subsequently can cause systemic effects including, but not limited to, neurotoxicity, cancers, and effects on the reproductive system.” None of this is great for the brain. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sociopaths and Psychopaths

Sociopaths and Psychopaths are born, not made, right? And how do they relate to Narcissists.

This is a complex question. Narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths are common terms that are now listed under the title of Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Edition 5. APD may represent a type of continuum in terms of individuals being dangerous. Sociopaths and psychopaths tend to be narcissistic; while not everyone who is a narcissist (fortunately) is either a sociopath or psychopath. In some individuals, the brain seems more susceptible for developing an APD. There may be a genetic component, as the child of a parent with this disorder has a higher risk of developing APD themselves. However, it also appears there needs to be an environmental cofactor or trigger to result in a dangerous Antisocial Personality Disorder. The most common trigger in those with a higher risk is childhood abuse. There is evidence that a narcissistic adult (whose brain did not learn to move toward more balanced behaviors) may eventually exhibit an Antisocial Personality Disorder with sociopathic characteristics, and can become extremely dangerous. The most dangerous APD (psychopaths) may be “born.” Recent studies have shown that the brain of someone who would be defined as a psychopath (so called) differs from the brains of most others, especially in areas that control aggression and empathy. For example, when seeing blood, some individuals become nervous or anxious. Their heart rate and breathing can become faster. The opposite happens in a psychopathic individual. The incidence of severe Antisocial Personality Disorder is fairly rare, about 1 percent of the population. 

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sociopath or Psychopath

What are characteristics of a sociopath or a psychopath?

First, be clear that both of these words are informal terms. The sociopath has a mental disorder that may be less severe than someone who is considered a psychopath. Those characterized as narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths are listed in the DSM-5 under the category of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Individuals who fall into this category can be viewed as being on a continuum of dysfunctionality and often criminal behaviors. In general, these types of brains seem to lack empathy. The more severe the mental disorder, the less regard they have for others. They tend not to feel guilt or remorse, even if they pretend to do so. Less severe forms of Antisocial Personality Disorder may have some twinges of conscience, but that in no way stops their behavior. They may act impulsively and then blame others. In the more severe forms of disease, the individuals tend to plan their strategies, actions, and behaviors carefully. They are also more likely to be violent as in serial killers and may not actually experience any emotions personallyMore tomorrow.

Monday, January 17, 2022

High Fructose Corn Syrup

 What is so bad about High Fructose Corn Syrup? It’s in almost everything that is pre-prepared, especially in refined products that use a lot of sugar, white flour, and fat. What can I eat?

 I am smiling. What can you eat? Products that do not contain High fructose Corn Syrup. Kathleen Page and colleagues at the University of Southern California, studied the effects of glucose and fructose on the hypothalamus—the appetite control center, which responds to hormones such as Leptin that tell the brain you are full. When study participants consumed a drink containing only glucose, blood flow and activity in the hypothalamus decreased and they reported feeling full. When the same participants were fed a fructose drink, the hypothalamus remained active, and they did not report feeling full. The brain still thought the body was hungry. In addition to Fruit, fructose may be present in your menu as the food additive high-fructose corn syrup (found in many beverages, salad dressings, and so on). Fructose absorption can be very rapid if the source is high-fructose corn syrup. Try to keep it out of your shopping cart, off your menu, and out of your mouth—for your brain and liver health!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Brain & Making Decisions

Why are people more emotional or less emotional about the decisions they make?

People react differently to decisions because every brain is different. There are some of generalizations, however. The human brain is divided into two hemispheres, each of which are divided in half, resulting in 4 divisions. Work by Dr. Richard Haier found that most brains appear to have an energy advantage in one of those four divisions, meaning it takes less energy to transfer information across the synapse, or space between neurons. Individuals who have their energy advantage in lower right quadrant or harmonizing division—often dither about decisions and may be more emotional about them. Contrast that with the frontal left quadrant or prioritizing division behind the left eye that wants to make the decisions and may be very unemotional about them—unless it gets angry when others do not want to accept its decision. The frontal right quadrant or visualizing division behind the right eye, does not want to be told what to do—period—and may get upset or just leave when others try to control its decisions. The lower left quadrant or maintaining division is willing to accept decisions if they make sense and seem practical. If not, it can dig in its heels and be beyond stubborn.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Weather on the Brain

Does weather impact the brain in any way?

 It definitely can. In fact, entire books have been written on how weather impacts human brains. One study of 16,400 individuals evaluated 19 aspects of weather variables—sunny, overcast, rain, snow, wind speed, chill, and so on—and correlated data with mental health distress. While some people prefer differing types of weather, researchers found only one weather variable that impacted mental health distress—the number of daylight hours between sunrise and sunset. Some brains are more susceptible to shorter daylight hours. Seasonal affective disorder or SAD, better known now as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) seasonally related, is much more common in Alaska and areas above the arctic Circle than in sunny California or Florida. Fortunately, light therapy can bring “natural sunlight” indoors, especially during the winter months, and can help weather-sensitive brains experience healthier mental health.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Complicated Brains


Why oh why are brains so complicated?

 They need to be complicated in order “to do what they were designed to do.” Do what they do. The brain has been called the most amazing piece of biological real estate in the known universe. Joel Havemann put it this way: What seems astonishing is that a mere three-pound object, made of the same atoms that constitute everything else under the sun, is capable of directing virtually everything that humans have done. Think about it: flying to the moon, Barry Bonds hitting 762 home runs in a 22-year career; athletes winning medals at the Olympics, researchers unlocking brains secrets, one by one. I like the way British philosopher Emerson M. Pugh put it: “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” In case you haven’t noticed, I am in awe of the human brain!

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Monday, January 10, 2022


How is rejection processed in the brain?

Rejection is a type of social-emotional hurt—a loss of something you wanted or thought you wanted. Sadness is the emotion that helps you recover from a loss. To change the way you feel, you must change the way you think, because feelings always follow thoughts. According to research from Case Western Reserve University, exposure to rejection led participants to have an immediate drop of 30 percent in cognition or mental reasoning and a 25 percent drop in IQ—which can make it difficult to process the experience in a rational and timely manner. Fortunately, as you recover from the hurt, the drop in cognition and IQ can reverse. A few sessions with a good counselor often can assist with recovery from rejection. I think of it like this: some people will always reject you; some will accept you some of the time, but all will never accept you all the time—and really, you don’t accept all people all the time. Here is my brain’s opinion: it is most important to first accept yourself. Think of anything beyond that as a bonus.


Friday, January 7, 2022

Repressing Memories

My girlfriend said that the brain doesn’t know the difference between good and bad memories so if you repress one, you repress them all. Is that true?

If the brain did not know the difference between good and bad memories it might repress either all of them or none of them. Memories are believed filed somewhat diffusely throughout the brain rather than in just one giant memory bank. Good thing because if a brain injury knocked out that one giant memory bank you might not ever remember who you are. When the brain does repress a painful memory think of it as using your thumb to put pressure on a ripe plumb. The area of pressure will, naturally, be strongest right under your thumb. There will also be an area around that point that is of lighter pressure. Depending on what was stored in that surrounding area, you might repress good memories as well.


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Pandemic of Anxiety

Why are so many people anxious?

 Anxiety is a form of fear. The news is filled with tragic and sensational news because it sells. If you watch a lot of news, that is what is being absorbed into your conscious and subconscious minds. Parts of the parietal lobe and the temporal lobe help the brain to evaluate its environment. The brain switches between these two different neural networks whereby one is triggered when we perceive a situation as positive, and the another is activated when we perceive it as negative. 
The areas apparently ‘speak’ to each other and interpret the weight or importance of the situation in order to decide which one will be switched on and which one will be switched off. Flooding the brain with anxiety-producing information. can lead to anxious rumination and perhaps a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder—because more negatives are going into the brain than positives.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Broken Resolutions

I make a dozen new resolutions and by this time each year none of them are sticking. I am so discouraged!

 First, pluck up. You were trying to do something that it is highly unlikely would be possible for your brain. A dozen resolutions? I can just imagine your brain said, “Are you nuts? Because a dozen new resolutions is nuts. What were you thinking? I’ll just sit this one out, and in a few days—if this year is like the last 35—you will have given up and forgotten all about them.” Second: select one doable resolution. One you want to keep doing for the rest of our life. Tell your brain using your first name:  ______ you are drinking water and have two pale urines today (or whatever your resolution is, stated in positive present tense.) The brain gets in gear when it thinks something is happening right now. Do it every day. Faithfully. Studies have shown that it takes on average nearly 12 weeks of doing that something every day until it becomes a built-in habit. If you want to add another resolution and keep honing your first one, fine. My brain’s opinion: better 1 good resolution turned into a habit than several that fell by the wayside.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022


People are talking about New Year’s Resolutions again—

change! Why is it so hard for humans to change?

 Humans are creatures of habits because habits are efficient, fast, and save brain-body energy. Why is change so hard? Because the brain must override and interrupt a habit or create a new one, which either way takes time and energy. Sometimes a good habit is unhelpful in specific situations only. For example, when confronted by danger the brain typically initiates a fight or flight response. If you are suddenly confronted by a large and potentially dangerous wild animal, however, fighting is not an option and running is exactly the WRONG thing to do if you plan to live another day. It that situation, the brain is also designed to get your attention in and tell you that a typical learned habit is NOT in your best interest in this situation.


Monday, January 3, 2022


              Happy New Year

It’s another New Year and all through my   house,

Rejoicing is high as there is no mouse.

Except for the one that runs my laptop—

So quiet you really can hear a pin drop.

 The new insulation I put in the garage,

Took lots of work plus a post-massage.

It was certainly worth it, I declare,

Inside there is now much warmer air!

My stocking once hung from the mantel with care,

Is back in its box—its yearly armchair.

And it its case my treasured tree,

Made of ceramic so there’s no debris.

 Another good meal is about to be served,

From all the left-overs we reserved.

The reheated dishes from holiday fare,

Account for the wonderful smells in the air.

 The sun shining brightly has dispelled the fog,

A very good thing as it looked like eggnog!

Despite the pandemic it’s been a good year,

I accomplished a lot with friends I hold dear.

 We have slipped through New-Year’s open gate,

On wings of time that never wait.

They take us to a different height—

A brand-new chance to get it right.

 Make time to connect—it goes so fast—

The love of true friends is what will last.

From my heart to yours, I wish for you,

The very best year in all that you do.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

New Year's Day Acrostic

New Year’s Day Acrostic

ow is the time to forgive yourself and others—for your own health.

Eye the future but live every day as if it were your last.

Work on raising your Emotional Intelligence skills. It pays big dividends!

Yesterday is gone—learn from it and be mindfully aware today.

Everyone needs to feel valuable, so find something to affirm in each one.

Always practice doing random acts of kindness.

Remember to be pleasant. Avoid being the dark cloud in someone’s sky.

Smile at everyone—it may be the only smile they see.

 Do say “I love you” every day—it may be the last time you see that person.

Always give thanks for what you have—you will have even more

Younger and healthier is possible. Live a Longevity Lifestyle—it matters.