For any health issues, physical or mental, ‘prevention is better than a cure.’
Mental health disorders are increasing, and the recent pandemic is only going to exacerbate an already worrying trend.
Research has also shown that poor lifestyle choices not only affect your physical and mental health increases your susceptibility to Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia.
Developing mental resilience is one of the most effective defenses against Dementia and depression or anxiety disorders. Scientists fervently believe the following activities can give you the most constructive barrier to avoiding debilitating brain disorders.
Socializing. Yes, having fun and spending time with friends and family, parties, BBQs, family time, visits, catching up on phone calls and so on. Steady, consistent family relationships and robust friendships increase resilience. Loneliness and isolation are the antitheses of mental health. In the midst of a global pandemic that relies on isolation, it is not rocket science to guess a severe impact to global mental health and the research could indicate a surge in dementias over future decades. Under normal circumstances, prioritizing your social activities over work and other obligations on a weekly basis. Not everyone has a social network so difficult as it may be, now is the time to begin reaching out and make new friendships. Stepping outside your comfort zone can only increase your resilience so it is a win, win. There are many befriending schemes for people isolated due to age and disabilities, volunteering to make friends has endless benefits for yourself and your audience including the feel-good factor of kindness which is proved to reduce stress and other mental health issues. During the pandemic, zoom calls can be fun if frustrating and taking socially distanced walks with others also adds to your overall wellbeing.
On cautionary note, social networking is also an excellent way to connect, but please avoid anything that makes you feel inadequate, angry, or sad. There are some excellent ‘interest’ groups on social media as well as volunteering opportunities, but it might be pertinent to block anything that causes a strong negative emotional reaction in you until the world returns to normal socialization. The same goes for the news or media programmes that increase your anxieties or despondency.
The science bit. Decision making and judgement is located in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is toughened and reinforced through social interaction, socializing is a brain workout. As the prefrontal cortex fortifies, it reduces activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for emotion. This ensures challenging circumstances will be subject to lengthier reasoning in the judgement area of the brain, resisting more emotional reactions.
Emotional reactions to life’s challenges can be unhelpful, and in many cases damaging. Building up your prefrontal cortex supports rational thinking and an acceptance of change as an inevitable part of life. The very definition of resilience.
Prompt and confident decision making is another tool in increasing mental resilience. Languishing issues can only fester and despite efforts to ignore them, they increase in size and anxiety. Set achievable goals every day, ones you know you can achieve giving you a sense of fulfilment. It could be having a shower or taking a walk. Applaud yourself in these small achievements and build up when and as you can.
Practicing gratitude is immense in brain health. Concentrating on what you have, the stuff you take for granted, legs that take you for a walk, a clean bed, sunshine. There are several apps and exercises online to assist you in practicing this every day. The positive aspect is self-awareness and constructing a positive self-knowing. A healthy brain is difficult to sabotage.
Sleep. It is not a rite of passage to go without sleep. It does not make you an indispensable employee or a successful entrepreneur nor does it make you some kind of hero, unless you are a new parent!
Sleep is indispensable to mental wellbeing and research appears to show that sleep allows the brain to house keep by organize memories and discarding irrelevant content. How does lack of sleep make you feel? Irritable, groggy, and depressed, sleep is underrated in the fight against mental illness or dementia.
In the meantime, Dementia is a priority with the WORLD Health Organization and its member states. Our population is growing older, and the increasing number of people diagnosed with dementias has enormous implications on the near future from the economy to society in general.
Funding is being directed into dementia studies and one promising area is noninvasive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation-TMS Los Angeles. Currently it is proving an excellent tool for accurate diagnosis of dementia conditions and experimentation into TMS Therapy (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) as a treatment is very promising.