Connecting the Dots

brain health emotional wellness and meditation 250x250Your mind and body are powerful allies and one’s emotional wellness can be very influential for overall health. Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown that emotional wellness can be improved by developing certain skills which will ultimately benefit your physical health. As it is with most things, balance can create opportunities for you to find the positive in a negative situation, helping to develop resilience. A positive mental state can lead to better health, improve quality of life and longevity. Don’t overlook the importance of reaching out to trusted people and resources and stay socially connected. These interactions can help keep things in perspective and help lead you to positive solutions.  

It’s not easy to find the motivation to adapt healthy lifestyle choices, which is why we connected with Lori Nisson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Banner Alzheimer’s and Banner Sun Health Research Institutes and asked her for some advice to overcome a few common objections.

I have a really hard time finding the good in bad situations. What helps?

“We tend to focus primarily on the challenges of a situation. Try taking a step back, change your perspective and explore both the negative and positive aspects of the situation. Sometimes this can be simple, other times it can feel quite difficult. It can be highly effective to locate a supportive friend or family member to talk through your feelings and it also lends an additional perspective. Another option is to begin a journal of thoughts and feelings, try identifying three things you feel grateful about each day, no matter how small. Often, we cannot change the situation, but the power lies in changing our perspective. You can make a conscience choice about how you will frame the situation. Resilience is developed over time by finding a way to cope and rebounding from difficult circumstances.” 

What kind of exercises can be done to lower stress?

“Consider forms of mindfulness to help lower stress. This can be done simply by taking in deep breaths and exhaling them slowly and deliberately. In addition, you may try participating in the variety of available audio and visual relaxation and meditative practices that can be located online. There are many forms to explore, including mindful meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, body scan or progressive muscle relaxation, or the use of guided imagery. Explore a few types to get a sense of what may feel comfortable for you. Be patient with yourself, it takes time and practice to quiet our busy minds, but the rewards can be abundant.”

I have a really hard time asking for help. How can I improve?

“Our societal norms promote self-reliance, but that often leads to overwhelm and excessive stress. First start by giving yourself permission to ask for help. Remind yourself about situation when you helped someone else and how good that may have felt. Make a note of supportive friends or family members in your life. Take steps to reach out to a few of those key people to stay in touch on the phone, virtually or in person if this can be done safely. If you need specific help, jot down your thoughts ahead of time so you can clearly convey your request. If you need additional support, consider calling a warm line (non-emergent) or hotline (more emergent) or locate a support group associated with your challenge for additional, objective support. If you need more individualized advice or believe you may be experiencing a mental health problem, consider consulting with a trained therapist either face to face or virtually. Recognizing the need for help and seeking assistance is a sign of strength.”

Chronic stress can be very damaging to the brain and body, causing problems with learning, memory, and a myriad of physical responses. A very effective way to calm the mind and reduce your stress is with meditation. The article from Deepak Chopra’s website provides “8 Steps to Establish a Daily Meditation Practice” and move forward with a wide array of health benefits. 

The above article states, “knowing that something is good for you doesn’t always translate into doing it”, but making a concentrated effort (see what we did there?) to link meditation to your routine will help you see changes in your sleep, overall attitude, and ability to focus in a few weeks. 

Browse all seven Building Blocks for Aging Wellto help maintain your brain health and wellness.