The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise (Part 1)

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The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise


Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for the body. But exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Additionally, with a bit of help, there is no reason why you can’t get into amazing shape. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better. If you’re a bit tentative about doing some exercise because you’re not sure where to start maybe get some tennis lessons to ease you into exercising. A friend of mine had some Tennis Lessons Philadelphia and says they were a really great way to get back into the swing of exercising.

What are the mental health benefits of exercise?

Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active.

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Exercise and depression

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication-but without the side-effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise and anxiety

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element-really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise-you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

Exercise and stress

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind. So why not pick up a tennis racket and challenge your friends to daily competitions to see who can win. Or even try out a new sport like Pickleball. All you’ll need are pickleball paddles, a pitch to play on and you’re all good to go. Exercising doesn’t have to be boring and something you should dread doing. Anything that helps relieve stress should be seen as a positive.

Exercise and ADHD

Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels-all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise and PTSD and trauma

Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of thinking about other things, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs-such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing-are some of your best choices.

Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting (such as the hugely popular American Whitewater Expedition), and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

Other mental and emotional benefits of exercise

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

For more help in establishing a mental/emotional self-care plan that involves exercise, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Healing the 7 Types of ADD

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[An Excerpt From] Healing the 7 Types of ADD

By Dr. Daniel Amen

The 7 Types of ADD
During the live call, Dr. Amen walked listeners through the 7 types of ADD, but explained all exhibit three or more of the hallmark symptoms of ADD, which are:

– Short attention span
– Distractibility
– Disorganization
– Procrastination
– Impulse Control Issues.

“First of all, I use the term ADD and not ADHD because half of the people who have the disorder are not hyperactive,” he said. “People generally have three, four or five of the hallmark symptoms, and not just when they are going through a divorce, lost their mother or are going through menopause. This is a symptom cluster that you need to see throughout someone’s life.”

Type 1: Classic ADD – Hyperactive and restless are the hallmark symptoms here, and many tend to be active even inside the mother’s womb, said Dr. Amen. They have a short attention span unless they are interested, can be pretty impulsive, and they are very disorganized. They also tend to be extroverts.

Type 2: Innattentive ADD – These people are introverts. Like classic ADD, they have a short attention span unless really interested, can get easily distracted, be somewhat disorganized and wait until the last minute for things, but they are not very hyperactive or impulsive.

Type 3: Overfocused ADD – Described by a Harvard professor 30 years ago, for this type of ADD, it’s not that they can’t pay attention, but they can’t shift their attention.

“They tend to get stuck on negative thoughts or negative behaviors, and if you can’t shift your attention, you can’t really pay attention,” said Dr. Amen. “So five minutes ago I said something that bothered you, that you now thought of 15 times, so you have not heard anything I’ve said.”

The mechanism in the brain for Overfocused is very different from the first two types, which is low activity in the brain. For this type, a certain area of the brain Dr. Amen calls “the gear-shifter,” works too hard, so they tend to worry, hold grudges, and when things don’t go their way they get upset. They can be argumentative, oppositional, and get into loops of thinking.

“Put this type on a stimulant, and they focus more on the things that upset them and it can really make them almost obsessive,” he noted.

Type 4: Temporal Lobe ADD – We have temporal lobes in the brain under our temple and behind our eyes, which is the part of the brain for mood stability and temper control. When one of those is hurt, people have the ADD symptoms plus mood instability, aggression, memory problems and learning problems. Stimulants can make them much worse, Dr. Amen noted.

Type 5: Limbic ADD – This is where ADD, mood disorders or depression come together, but unlike depression that comes and goes, these people have a low-grade depression with the ADD symptoms all the time.

Type 6: Ring of Fire – This type is characterized by what Dr. Amen calls the “ring of fire” in the brain where people have too much going on everywhere in the brain.

Type 7: Anxious ADD – The newest type added in the revised addition of Dr. Amen’s book (which is part of his Special Package Offer) is where people have the symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, tension, tend to predict the worst, and have trouble with timed-tests or don’t like speaking in public, along with all the other ADD symptoms.

“Each of these types has it’s own treatment, and the problem is everyone who gets diagnosed with ADD gets stimulant medication, and that’s why we constantly hear the horror stories about stimulants, even though to the right person they can be really helpful,” said Dr. Amen.

Based on thousands of scans he developed a questionnaire to let people know if they have ADD and help them determine what type. Based on the answers, people get a report on what their type is because, while there are 7 types, many people have combinations, said Dr. Amen.

Treatments & Advice for Parents
While there are prescription medications available to help with certain types of ADD, Dr. Amen also advocates several natural approaches, including supplements and changes to diet.

“I’m really excited about natural ways to heal the brain. We have all had plenty of experience with medications making people worse. Many of our patients come and they say ‘I don’t want to take medications, what can I do?’ and I really felt like I needed to honor them. It starts by knowing your ADD type.”

For example, those with Classic ADD – both children and adults can benefit greatly from an elimination diet, said Dr. Amen. A study in Holland, that has been replicated, reported 73 percent show greater than a 50 percent reduction in symptoms within just one month of an elimination diet. So the first thing to do is get your diet right, he said.

“If you are Overfocused, and you got on a high protein, low carb diet, it will make you mean, so you have to get your diet right for your individual brain type,” said Dr. Amen. “If you do have Overfocused, there are natural ways to boost serotonin. One of them is exercise, and another is eating smart carbs such as sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans. Also certain supplements like 5HTP, St. John’s Wart and spices like Saffron.”

You could purchase the aforementioned supplements in tablet or capsule form, but this may cost you more in the long run. Alternatively, you could buy each one in powder form and then create your own supplements by mixing them into your own capsules. You can find more here about buying your own capsules and machines to fill them so that you can make your own supplements.

For parents who have a child with ADD, the most important thing to do is get blood work done first, Dr. Amen explained. This is one of the recommendations he gives in his plan “Heal ADD at Home in 30 Days,” which is part of his Special Offer, found at the end of the FREE questionnaire.

“If a child’s thyroid is off, he won’t get better. If he has allergies or infection, he won’t get better until you figure that out. If his iron is low, the medication, supplements or dietary interventions won’t work. Knowing your important numbers is one of the hallmark things we work on,” he explained.

It’s also important for parents to realize the harder their child tries the worse it gets for them because their brains shut off when they are suppose to turn on. Parents need to stop putting pressure on them and become their advocate, said Dr. Amen.

“Also, ADD kids and adults are often conflict seeking and adrenaline seeking. For ADD, we use stimulants, but without them, these people will find ways to stimulate themselves, and for kids, often what they do is pick on the most irritable parent in the family and work on them over and over,” he noted. “So if you scream at an ADD child, there is a part of him that likes that, and he will figure out a way to make you do it again. One of the first things we do is to teach people not to yell.”

Another recommendation for ADD is to exercise. Michael Phelps, an Olympian swimmer, took medication until the 6th grade when he realized with intense exercises – for him it was swimming – he was a lot more focused and did better, said Dr. Amen.

Fish oil can also be very helpful, but not just DHA. People with ADD also need EPA, which is more stimulating and can be helpful for those types who need it. For those who are looking to calm down, Dr. Amen recommends focused breathing, which is especially good for those with Anxious or Temporal Lobe ADD.

5 Myths About Mental Illness

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5 Myths About Mental Illness


It is common to hear about a loved one, friend, family member or coworker being treated by a mental health professional, yet many still feel shame about having a mental illness and blame themselves. This cycle of blame does nothing to help the emotional imbalance that is fueling their illness. There are still a lot of misconceptions and myths around mental illness, even though they have been disproved.

Here are some common myths about mental illness and the real truths behind them:


1. Myth: Psychiatric treatment is for weak people, and talk therapy is whining. You just have to get over it!

Truth: This is still one of the most popular myths, by far. Many people continue to feel that psychiatric treatment is not required for many problems. Treatment for psychiatric disorders is just as necessary as it is for other medical disorders, such as diabetes or heart disease. There are a wide range of therapy options that can be best determined by a mental health professional. In some cases, medication is required, while in others, therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy, has been shown to be very effective. It is not a sign of weakness to seek help. It is a sign of courage to recognize a problem and try to find a solution. Just as you would not feel bad about going to the doctor if you had an infection, you should never feel bad about seeking help for mental health issues.

2. Myth: You will not achieve your full potential when you have a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or depression.

Truth: From historical times to the present many of the most successful people have had bipolar disorder or depression. Names like Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Beethoven, Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey would hardly be seen as underachievers, yet they have all dealt with mental illness at some point in their lives. The reality is that reaching your full potential and being successful is very possible even if you are diagnosed with a mental health issue � provided you seek help, whether that be professionally or at home. To begin with, many will search into at home self help methods, such as starting new hobbies to distract the mind, or even trying out certain products like cannabis, which also comes in many forms so its best to do proper research first, for example finding out more on hash vs wax to see which would be the better consumption depending on your needs and lifestyle. These are just a couple of coping mechanisms that one could use, but no matter what, know that you can succeed in life whether you suffer from a mental illness, like depression, or not.

3. Myth: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is just a poor substitute for discipline and an excuse for bad behavior.

Truth: ADHD is a psychiatric illness with a well-described constellation of symptoms and proven treatments. ADHD is commonly thought of as a childhood disorder and often attributed to a lack of discipline. ADHD can affect people of all ages and can bring about a lack of focus and impulsivity that can cause the afflicted person to suffer. They or their families should recognize the signs of ADHD and seek treatment. This is especially true with children. Treatment helps a child excel in school and adjust in social settings.

4. Myth: All patients with schizophrenia are dangerous.

Truth: Only a very small percentage of schizophrenics are dangerous when left untreated. Schizophrenia is a very serious psychotic disorder, but patients who have it should not necessarily be feared or institutionalized. There are treatment options for schizophrenia, and many with the disorder can lead productive lives with the right treatment.

5. Myth: Suicide is not a problem in the U.S.

Truth: Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2007. Suicide is the most regrettable outcome for far too many people who have found their mental health issues to be too much to bear. It is often preceded for a long time with warning signs. It is so important to seek treatment if you feel like you have too much to cope with. Immediately seek professional help if you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts.

As more people learn about how the brain works, and how it affects our overall health, there will be much less stigma around seeking professional help for mental health issues. It is important to recognize psychological and psychiatric disorders as being just as necessary to treat as any other medical condition. If you, your friends or loved ones are experiencing any mental health issues, seek treatment. There is help available and treatment can help you lead a higher quality and happier life. It’s time for us to move away from the myths and move closer to the solutions.

Tips for Helping Children with ADHD

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Living with Children with ADHD

From: National Institute of Mental Health

Children’s health is very important and sometimes their mental health is overlooked and disregarded as just something that they are going through at the time and they will eventually grow out of this behavioural pattern. However, this can be damaging to a child’s health and educational success, which inhibits them in the future. If you suspect that your child has ADHD or other mental health issues then getting something like a psychiatric evaluation for children could give you the information you need about your child and then help them to move forward in a more comfortable and informed environment. In terms of ADHD here are a few tips that you could use to help your child to begin with and then assess if you need any further help and support for your child.

adhd childTips to Help Kids Stay Organized and Follow Directions

Schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.

Get outdoors. It’s been said that children with ADHD have midler symptoms when having the opportunity to play outside. Even playing in the back garden is enough to wear your child out and lessen their sympoms. Perhaps investing in outdoor playsets will encourage your child to get outside and have fun!

Organize everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.

Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.

Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.

Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it.

Some children with ADHD continue to have it as adults. And many adults who have the disorder don’t know it. They may feel that it is impossible to get organized, stick to a job, or remember and keep appointments. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, preparing to leave the house for work, arriving at work on time, and being productive on the job can be especially challenging for adults with ADHD.

These adults may have a history of failure at school, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships. Many have had multiple traffic accidents. Like teens, adults with ADHD may seem restless and may try to do several things at once, most of them unsuccessfully. They also tend to prefer “quick fixes,” rather than taking the steps needed to achieve greater rewards.

For more information or help for your child or yourself, please contact CornerStone at 614-459-3003.