A Healthy Brain

A Healthy Brain

Recently, I’ve become concerned about what the effects of ongoing grief and depression have had on my brain. I have experienced so much trauma, heartache, abuse and betrayal over the course of my life that it feels like sometimes I am unable to cope and bounce back with the resilience I once had. I get depressed more often now, to the point where I can’t get out of bed.

This is not good.

I’ve done some research on brain health recently. Here’s what I’ve learned so far: As we age our brains shrink and lose weight. They also dry out, which I didn’t know. My first thought was to drink more water, but I read that that doesn’t help. Also, as we age, our cognition weakens, such as memory (especially short term), spatial orientation and inductive reasoning. In the past, we thought that the aging of the brain was due to cell loss, but this has been disproven.

So, what can we do to forestall dementia and decline of the brain? I read that coffee is good for the brain and mood, as are anti-inflammatories like dark chocolate, leafy green vegetables and resveratrol in red wine. Also, vigorous exercise, eating less but more nutrient dense foods, sleeping 8 hours a night and even taking a little bit of marijuana daily to control inflammation help.

We still aren’t really clear on how to slow down – really slow down – the aging of the brain. But, here’s what I have discovered in my own life: Our thoughts and the feelings associated with these thoughts make all the difference.

Most of us believe we are what we think about, what we perceive and how we feel about it. By indulging in negativity, especially on a regular basis, it becomes a very damaging habit. We create new neural pathways every time we think the same thought repeatedly. I know this because I’ve done it. And the longer I have practiced negative, hopeless thinking, the unhealthier my brain has become.

Once this negative habit takes root in our consciousness, the more our lives reflect our thoughts. When I realized that I was creating my own depression and unhappiness, I made a promise to myself that I would turn my thoughts around by becoming more positive and realistic. 

A big part of my problem is that I resist accepting the reality of my situation, mostly about being alienated and estranged. It is very sad and very challenging. I cry a lot and am profoundly depressed, even now. But, I can’t go on like this and am dedicating myself to changing my thought patterns, accepting things as they are and moving out of this dark place.

I don’t need anyone to change or alter their behaviors for me to be happy or healthy. What I need is to optimize my cognitive habits and create a more efficient, positive and stable mind.

Like so many things, this is an inside job.