Neurocore https://www.neurocorecenters.com Neurofeedback EEG Biofeedback Therapy for ADHD, Depression Mon, 03 Aug 2020 12:42:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7 4 Natural Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels – copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/4-natural-ways-to-increase-dopamine-levels-copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/4-natural-ways-to-increase-dopamine-levels-copy#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2020 15:05:30 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/?p=20436 The post 4 Natural Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels – copy appeared first on Neurocore.

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4 Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

August 1, 2019


happy woman lying in bed

Chances are that at some point in your life you’ve heard the term “dopamine.” Commonly known as a “feel-good” brain chemical, dopamine plays an important role in the brain’s reward system – if you’ve ever eaten a piece of chocolate and thought, just one more bite, you can thank dopamine for that response. And while a bite of chocolate may trigger a quick dopamine fix, these types of triggers have been shown to ultimately decrease dopamine levels over time. Keeping reading and try the tips below on how to increase dopamine naturally.

What is a Dopamine Imbalance?

This neurotransmitter plays a role in much more than just our reward system too. Dopamine levels contribute to mood, sleep, focus, and memory, among other areas, which is why an imbalance could significantly impact how you feel. Some research suggests that a dopamine deficiency could be associated with depression, although the connection isn’t fully understood yet.

Some symptoms of a dopamine deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Apathy
  • Lack of focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Moodiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Sugar cravings
  • Lower motivation
  • Feeling hopeless, guilty, or inexplicably sad
  • Feelings of anxiety

If you’re unsure of your dopamine levels and would like to learn more, talk to your doctor about testing.

The good news is that there are several effective, med-free ways that may help boost your dopamine levels, according to research.

Try these four methods to increase dopamine naturally:

  1. Exercise
    We all know by now that exercise is good for us. Aside from keeping our waistlines trim, exercising releases endorphins, which can act as a natural mood booster. While this endorphin boost isn’t the same as a change in dopamine, it may help improve mood in the short-term.One study found that practicing yoga for an hour a day, six days a week, significantly increased dopamine levels after a three-month period. While more research needs to be done, these results offer a positive outlook on the effects of exercise on dopamine levels. And regardless, exercise is great for brain health overall.
  1. Sleep Well
    One way to help encourage your brain to regulate dopamine production is to get adequate sleep. Studies suggest that dopamine levels naturally rise in the morning when it’s time to wake up and fall in the evening when it’s time for bed. So, by staying up late and sleeping in, this natural rhythm can be disrupted.Working on practicing good sleep hygiene is a great place to start. Try avoiding any screen time an hour before you’d like to go to bed. Keep your bedroom cool (around 68 degrees) and resist the urge to work or scroll on your phone from bed.
  1. Eat More Protein
    You may or may not have heard of an amino acid called tyrosine. Amino acids are what makes up proteins, and tyrosine, in particular, plays an important role in the production of dopamine.Studies have linked eating a tyrosine-rich diet to higher levels of dopamine. Chicken, fish, eggs, and legumes are great, protein-heavy foods that are easily incorporated into most diets. You can also add in other tyrosine boosters like avocados, broccoli, spinach, and kale to your diet as well.Related: If You Want to Be Happier, Stop These 5 Thought Patterns Now
  1. Meditate
    While meditation itself is nothing new, research is starting to find new benefits. Many studies have linked meditation to improved mental health (like reduced stress and anxiety). One study found an association between an hour-long meditation session and roughly a 65% increase in dopamine levels.There’s room for more research regarding this particular correlation, but meditation has been shown to help reduce anxiety symptoms, improve depression symptoms, lower blood pressure, and more. If you’d like to give it try, try this easy meditation exercise.

Remember that it’s normal to feel down from time to time, but when your symptoms begin to affect your quality of life, it might be time to talk to your doctor. Depression is a manageable condition with many different treatment options, so it’s just a matter of finding the option that will work best for you.

If you’d like to learn more about Neurocore’s drug-free depression program give us a call at 800.600.4096. We’d be happy to chat about how we may be able to help.

BrainMD. (2017, March 28). “7 ways to Boost Dopamine, Focus and Energy.” Retrieved from https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/7-ways-to-boost-dopamine-focus-and-energy/
Cadman, Bethany. (2018, January 17). “Dopamine Deficiency: What You Need to Know.” Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320637.php
Jade, Kathleen. (2018, June 21). “Dopamine Supplements to Improve Depression Symptoms, Mood, and Motivation.” Retrieved from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/depression/dopamine-supplements-for-improving-mood-and-motivation/
Julson, Erica. (2018, May 10). “10 Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally.” Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-dopamine

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Managing Worry and Anxiety During Coronavirus

April 20, 2020


As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, you may find yourself wondering if your safety measures are reasonable and responsible or paranoia-induced and extreme. You may wonder if you’re washing your hands too often or wiping down your house too much. Simply going outside these days can bring on a whole set of new worries.

And if you live with a form of anxiety, healthy habits can quickly slip into intrusive, compulsive, or panic-inducing. It can be difficult for anyone, but especially people with anxiety, to know where the line between healthy and unhealthy lives.

In this situation, it can be helpful to gain a deeper understanding of what triggers excessive worry, how to categorize it, and how to balance it.

What Triggers Anxiety

While everyone has their own unique set of anxiety triggers, there are some that many of us may be sharing right now. This pandemic is:

  • New – We’ve never experienced anything quite like this; it’s not comfortable or familiar
  • Unpredictable – Because we’ve never experienced something like this, we don’t have a set of expectations to follow in our minds.
  • Ambiguous – Guidelines and safety measures aren’t entirely clear and can vary from state-to-state.

Types of Worry

It can also be helpful to recognize the difference between what psychologists call “real problem worries” and “hypothetical worries.”

Real problem worries are actual issues that require solutions in the moment. This may be, going to the store and then washing your hands when you get home. It could also be worries about how to arrange child care while you’re working from home.

Hypothetical worries are worries that arise from a spiraling train of thought, or catastrophizing. These might include “what if” thoughts, like, “What if we have to isolate for a year or longer?”

It’s inevitable that we’ll all experience some degree of worry during this time, but it’s excessive worry that can become a problem. If your worrying leaves you feeling drained or upset and is getting in the way of your life, it’s possible that you’re experiencing harmful, excess worry.

How to Find Balance

Even though many aspects of our normal lives have been cancelled, there are still things you can do at home to help manage your anxiety.

  • Counseling – A great way to help you navigate your own specific set of worries and anxieties and to know if they’re healthy or harmful, is to talk to a therapist. Virtual counseling is a great way to stay safe, but still give your mental wellbeing the attention it may be needing right now.
  • Limit your news intake – While it’s important to stay informed during this time, too much information can crowd your headspace. This can leave little room for other, non-anxiety-inducing thoughts. Try giving yourself 15 minutes a day to get caught up on new developments, from reputable sources, then switch to something else.
  • Follow guidelines (and then stop) – It’s hard to know when enough is too much, so trust the experts and follow their guidelines. It may seem helpful, but resist the urge to go above and beyond. Fixating on germs and cleanliness could lead to paranoia and obsessive thoughts.
  • Write down your worries – Some people find that listing their worries helps organize their thoughts into clearer categories. You may find that what you think you’re worried about all falls under the same, actionable group.
  • Make time for a hobby – Whatever it is that brings you joy, make time for it. Whether it’s drawing, reading, listening to music, or FaceTiming with friends, make that thing a priority in your life.
  • Don’t skip self-care – This isn’t the time to skip workouts and binge junk food, as tempting as it may be. Regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, meditation, etc. are all things that can help keep anxiety from going from bad to worse.

As always, remember to be kind to yourself. Some days will be worse than others and that’s okay. Remind yourself that anxiety, like this crisis, is temporary.

Learn more about our virtual counseling and remote brain training programs.

“CBT Worksheets, Information, Exercises & Audio.” Psychology Tools, www.psychologytools.com/downloads/cbt-worksheets-and-therapy-resources/?fwp_search=Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty.

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10 Habits to Improve Your Mental Health – copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/10-habits-to-improve-your-mental-health-copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/10-habits-to-improve-your-mental-health-copy#respond Fri, 17 Apr 2020 22:44:37 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/?p=20234 The post 10 Habits to Improve Your Mental Health – copy appeared first on Neurocore.

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10 Habits to Improve Your Mental Health

April 17, 2020


Many of us are facing an extension to our social distancing mandate. If you’re wondering how you’re going to make it through the next couple of weeks, we have a few simple ideas for improving your mental health while you’re stuck at home.

When it comes to mental health, sometimes small, manageable changes can actually have the biggest impact.

10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health at Home

  1. Exercise
    Everyone knows exercise is good for us. But not only does it keep us physically healthy, it also helps improve brain function, increases endorphins, and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you’re just starting out, aim for 20 minutes of exercise five days a week.
  1. Socialize
    Studies have shown that people with strong social ties to friends, family, and their community, are happier and live longer than people without those ties. Furthermore, people who are lacking social connections are at a higher risk for depression and cognitive decline over time. So, even though you can’t physically be around people, make an effort to call or FaceTime the people whose company you enjoy.
  1. Go Outside
    You don’t have to be “outdoors-y” to benefit from nature. Being outside for even a brief period of  time can help boost serotonin levels in your brain, improving mood. Something as simple as going for a walk around the block could be enough to lift your mood.
  1. Meditate
    Meditation can take many forms. Simply sitting quietly for five minutes and taking a few deep breaths could be enough to calm a racing mind. You don’t have to be a master of zen – just try to find a few moments of peace and quiet each day.
  1. Laugh
    Everybody loves a good laugh. That’s because laughing releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. But it doesn’t just make us feel good – laughing can reduce stress, improve short-term memory, and increase your ability to learn. So, watch more comedies, listen to funny podcasts, or keep a folder on your computer full of fun things that make you smile.
  1. Sleep Well
    Sleep is closely linked to mental health. Poor sleep can lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, stress, weight gain, and heart disease, to name a few. If you haven’t already, start making sleep a priority. Try these easy tips to get better sleep tonight.
  1. Be Thankful
    Start a journal to keep track of all the good things that happen in your life. Now, possibly more than ever, it’s important for us to focus on the positives. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; just a notebook where you write three things that you are thankful for that day. You could even add a few things that you accomplished too. When you’re looking for the positive, you’ll start to see it more.
  1. Craft
    Research has shown that when we use our hands to create something, we feel a unique sense of satisfaction. This is because activities like painting, woodworking, or knitting reinforces the hand-brain connection. This kind of activity engages our brains in a more creative way – and our brains like that!
  1. Eat Well
    We’re learning more and more about just how much diet impacts our bodies. While we can link specific foods to brain health, new research has begun to suggest that certain foods could help lower anxiety. In addition to improving your mental health, eating right will keep you in better physical shape too.
  1. Plan Something Fun
    Studies have shown that planning a trip can be just as rewarding as the trip itself. Luckily, you don’t have to actually plan a vacation to feel this effect. Consider making a list of things you’d like to do when this is over. It might be a nice reminder that this will pass too.

If you feel like you could use some extra help with your journey towards better mental health, give us a call at 800.600.4096. We’re currently offering virtual counseling and remote brain training programs.

Wolff, Carina. (2016, April 18). “11 Things To Do Daily For Your Mental Health, So You Can Stay Balanced & Happy.” Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/154896-11-things-to-do-daily-for-your-mental-health-so-you-can-stay-balanced-happy

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How Walking Helps Your Brain

April 7, 2020


In a world where everything seems to be cancelled, one thing is still allowed – walking. Socially distant walking, of course.

It seems everyone has turned to walking as an escape to get out of the house. The good news is that it’s also doing wonders for your brain, too.

Have you ever gone for a walk and ended it feeling energized yet relaxed, focused but still calm? Walking has long been recognized as both an effective form of physical exercise, as well as a tool to help gain mental clarity.

What Happens to Our Bodies When We Walk

We’ve known some of the physical benefits of walking for quite some time now – it’s good for your heart, works your muscles, improves circulation ­– the list goes on. But what’s becoming more and more prevalent are the positive effects walking can have on brain health.

For starters, we’ve known that walking helps improve oxygen flow to the brain. Maintaining even a moderate pace increases our heart rate and causes us to breathe deeper. Those deep breaths help more oxygen get into the bloodstream. With the heart pumping faster, our circulation increases and more oxygen gets to the brain.

But, new research has suggested that it’s not just our hearts that are responsible for blood flow to the brain. New Mexico Highlands University looked at 12 healthy young adults and measured the impact of blood flowing upward as they walked.

The researchers found that the impact from hitting our feet on the ground while walking sends a hydraulic wave upward through our bodies. This wave is actually strong enough to send blood back up through our arteries, increasing blood flow to the brain.

Higher impact activities, like running, have been studied in the past finding similar results, but this measurable result is new territory when it comes to walking. Alternatively, cycling has also been studied without the same results, suggesting the root of this phenomenon is in the impact of feet hitting the ground.

What Happens to Our Brains When We Walk

More oxygen getting to the brain is a good thing. Our brains use about 20% of our body’s total oxygen supply, so if we’re not getting enough oxygen up there, it’s easy to feel “foggy” or unfocused.

On top of that, about a third of the brain is made up of blood vessels, so it’s no wonder that substantial blood flow is important to brain health. In fact, increased blood flow to the brain is linked to better cognitive function, improved memory, and overall protection against decline.

The good news is, walking more is a relatively accessible goal for most people. You don’t need to start running marathons to improve your health, you can start by simply going for a walk. But keep social distancing at the top of your mind too, if you’re walking outside. Stay at least 6 feet away from people and consider wearing a face if you expect others to be around.

If you use a pedometer, 10,000 steps in a day is a great (but steep) goal. 10,000 steps averages out to about five miles. If that’s too drastic for you right now, try making a goal to increase your steps by 1,000 a day, which is roughly a half mile. In a month, you’ll be walking 14 miles more than you are today, which is bound to leave you feeling pretty good.

If you’ve noticed your mental wellbeing suffering during self quarantining, consider virtual counseling or remote brain training. Both are great, safe ways to maintain your mental wellness. Visit our website or give us a call at 800.600.4096 to learn more or get started.

AARP. New Research Provides Clues to the Brain Benefits of Walking. Retrieved from https://stayingsharp.aarp.org/art/move/17/walking-benefits-brain.html
Well Pet Coach
Experimental Biology 2017. (2017, April 24). How walking benefits the brain: Researchers show that foot’s impact helps control, increase the amount of blood sent to the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141340.htm

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Recognizing Subtle Signs of Depression During Isolation – copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/recognizing-subtle-signs-of-depression-during-isolationcopy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/recognizing-subtle-signs-of-depression-during-isolationcopy#respond Fri, 03 Apr 2020 20:04:30 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/?p=20101 The post Recognizing Subtle Signs of Depression During Isolation – copy appeared first on Neurocore.

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Recognizing Subtle Signs of Depression During Isolation

April 3, 2020


You may have lost count of how many days you’ve been stuck at home, unable to see friends, or go out for dinner. Some people don’t seem to mind the social distancing, but many of us are fighting every day to make sure our mental health is well.

With this in mind, we wanted to highlight some lesser known symptoms of depression. If these sound familiar, you can start taking steps to manage it.

When we hear people talking about depression, there are usually two or three symptoms that are always mentioned: feelings of hopelessness, prolonged feelings of sadness, and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. While these symptoms are commonly associated with depression, they’re not necessarily the face of this condition for everyone.

While we experience this uncertain time, it’s important to recognize the more subtle signs of depression so you can take action early.

Subtle Signs of Depression

  1. Externalizing or Lashing Out

    It’s not uncommon for someone with depression to experience physical symptoms, like pain or trouble sleeping. These “external” symptoms are particularly prominent among men, but because depression is typically thought of as an emotional condition, these symptoms can often be attributed to other things.

    Hostility and irritability are along the same vein and can also occur with undiagnosed depression. If you notice yourself snapping at a coworker on Zoom or yelling at your kids more often, it could be a sign of a deeper issue. Try asking yourself if your reaction is appropriate for the situation or if you’re feelings of irritability are playing a role.

  1. Trouble Concentrating

    Another frequently overlooked symptom of depression is difficulty concentrating. While focus issues are more often associated with conditions like ADHD, people with depression may also find it difficult to concentrate on a project or task. Circular and repetitive thinking is a possible culprit.

    People with depression (and possibly depression and anxiety) will oftentimes find their minds “stuck” on past experiences – regrets, embarrassing moments, unfished to-do lists – or future worries – quarantine uncertaintity, becoming sick, job security. This loop can be significantly distracting and can cause a “spiraling” effect. This can be what actually drives a person to take a deeper look at their mental health.

  1. Perfectionism

    Perfectionism is often thought of as a positive trait to have, but it’s possible for it to do more harm than good for many people. For those with depression, perfectionism can stem from a cognitive distortion believing that making mistakes will cause others to stop loving or accepting them. This can lead to these individuals to set exceptionally high standards, and if those standards aren’t met, they can end up feeling like a failure.

    Because these expectations are set so high, many people will fall short of them, which can spark feelings of poor self-esteem, guilt, or embarrassment. This cycle can be increasingly harmful to a person’s mental health, so it’s important to recognize this pattern and find ways to stop it when it starts.

It’s important to note other signs that your mental health may need some help, like excessive worry about your own health, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping, worsening of chronic health problems, increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

If these symptoms sound familiar to you, consider virtual counseling or remote brain tarining to help get you through this tough time. Give us a call at 800.600.4096 to learn more.

Walton, Alice. (2015, February 17). “Depression Isn’t Always What You Think: The Subtle Signs.” Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/17/the-subtle-symptoms-of-depression/#2830d50f1a3e
Bhandari, Smitha. (2018, April 22). “What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Depression?” Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-symptoms-causes#1

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Does Deep Breathing Really Do Anything? – copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/does-deep-breathing-really-do-anything-copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/does-deep-breathing-really-do-anything-copy#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2020 19:51:14 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/?p=20046 The post Does Deep Breathing Really Do Anything? – copy appeared first on Neurocore.

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Does Deep Breathing Really Do Anything?

April 1, 2020


a main relaxed and stress free while she leans back in a chair closing his eyes and smiling

If you’ve been social distancing for a while now you may be feeling stressed, anxious, or even angry. You’ve probably also heard people talking about combatting those feelings with self care, meditation, and taking deep, mindful breaths.

If you’ve rolled your eyes at the thought of taking deep breaths to combat your coronavirus fears, we understand. It doesn’t seem possible that changing your breathing could be that impactful.

But the truth of the matter is, taking a deep breath is likely exactly what you should do when you’re angry, stressed, or anxious.

Somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood, most of us subconsciously changed the way we breathe – and not for the better.

As babies and children, we naturally breathe deeper ­­– ever notice how a baby’s belly rises and falls as they breathe in and out? Yet as adults, it’s our chest that rises and falls when we breathe.

Why does this matter?

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, shallow, chest breathing won’t help you feel any better. But deep, belly breathing actually could.

Deep Breathing Fundamentals

When you take a deep breath in, your heart rate quickens slightly. As you exhale, your heart rate slows. Repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect. But if you’re shallow breathing, that endorphin release doesn’t happen.

It’s no coincidence that deep breathing is the groundwork in so many types of meditation. This calming effect can be so significant that there’s research linking meditation to a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms; as well as improved sleep and focus. And it all comes back to the breath.

But that’s not all that happens.

Meditation and the Brain

Some studies show that meditation can change the structure of our brains and improve neuroplasticity. This could be due to the fact that the brain is so oxygen dependent, using 20% of the body’s oxygen supply. And just like any other body part, if it doesn’t get what it needs, symptoms can manifest. So, a deficit in oxygen could cause you to feel foggy, unfocused, or on edge.

None of this is to say that taking a few deep breaths now and then will cure your depression, but more so this type of breathing practice might stand to be a useful coping tool for lessening symptoms for a range of issues.

If you’re ready to give deep breathing practice a try but you don’t know where to start, here are a couple of options you can try right at home.

Meditation

Start by sitting on a comfortable chair in a quiet room with the lights dimmed. (You may find it enjoyable to add quiet, gentle music with no lyrics.)

Close your eyes. Try to clear your mind and push away extraneous thoughts. Whenever a stray thought comes to mind during the course of your meditating, just push it gently aside. Remember to count slowly at each step.

Now try this…

  • Deeply breathe in, counting to three, and breathe out, counting to three
  • Start by focusing your attention on your toes. Imagine a tingling sensation there. Then relax your toes. Inhale, exhale.
  • Move your focus up your body to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, neck, chin, and cheeks. Imagine a tingling sensation in each spot before relaxing and moving on. Inhale and exhale with each muscle group.
  • After your cheeks, focus your attention on the spot right between your eyebrows. Relax your eyebrows. Inhale, exhale.
  • Imagine you are in a field with green grass as far as you can see. In the distance is a big, beautiful tree. Imagine yourself walking toward that tree, sitting down under it and relaxing. Inhale, exhale.
  • Allow yourself to notice any thoughts, feelings or sensations that come to mind. Don’t analyze them, just note them. You’re simply paying attention, not thinking of them as good or bad or trying to think more deeply about them. Do this for five minutes. Inhale, exhale.
  • Imagine yourself standing up and leaving the tree and walking back to where you started. Inhale, exhale.
  • Focus your attention on your toes. Imagine a tingling sensation there. Relax your toes. Inhale, exhale.
  • Continue focusing on the parts of your body until you reach the spot between your eyebrows. Once you do, you may either start at your toes again or open your eyes and end your session.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes and relax your mind. Run through each muscle group, relaxing for 10 seconds after each muscle group.

  • Close eyes tightly for five seconds.
  • Clench jaw — not so tightly that your teeth hurt — for five seconds.
  • Slowly rotate your head in a circle to the left for three rotations. Rotate to the right for three rotations.
  • Pull your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for five seconds.
  • Pull your chin to your chest for five seconds.
  • Hold your arms out like you are pushing against a wall for five seconds. Then drop your arms.
  • Squeeze your fists for five seconds.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles for five seconds.
  • Tighten your thighs for five seconds.
  • Flex your calves for five seconds.
  • Curl toes to tighten for five seconds.
  • Finish your muscle relaxation exercises with 60 seconds of focusing on all muscle groups and being aware of a calm, relaxed feeling within them.

If you’d like to learn about our remote brain traing or remote counseling options, give us a call at 800.600.4096!

Harvard Health Publishing. (2016, March 18). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

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How Parents Can Stay Productive While Working from Home

March 27, 2020


Most of us have suddenly found ourselves spending way more time at home than we’re used to. We’re working where we live, parenting where we live, and trying to unwind where we live. It can be difficult (to say the least) to know where one boundary ends and the next begins. Not to mention, the toll this new normal can have on your mental wellbeing.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. We’ve got a few tips to help get you through these taxing times.

  1. Maintain a Routine

    You may feel like things are out of your control at the moment and, let’s face it, they kind of are. But you can control your daily routine. As temping as it may be to sleep in a bit, work in your pajamas, and snack all day, it probably won’t help you in the long run.

    Instead, get up at close to your usual time, change out of your pajamas, and take a lunch break. If you normally do your hair and makeup for work, try doing that some days too. There’s a psychological shift that happens when we physically prepare ourselves for work, which can help improve your focus and productivity.

  1. Organize and Prioritize

    Even if you’re not usually a to-do list kind of person, consider giving it a try. It’s all too easy right now to be pulled away from your desk for 10 minutes that turn into a half hour. But keeping a list of tasks to get doe in the day may help you keep a 10-minute break to a 10-minute break.

    You may also need to reevaluate what’s actually important for you to get done right now. For many of us, things aren’t “business as usual.” Which means just because there was something you were working on before, doesn’t mean it’s still as time-sensitive now.

  1. Avoid Too Much Family Time During Work Hours

    If your kids or partner needs you, that’s one thing. But it can be easy to slip out of work mode if you’re putting in too much play time with the kids. If you normally spend your days working away from home, try your best to maintain that mentality. Too many family interruptions can just make your work day longer, causing you to work late, missing even more family time in the evenings.

    Close the door if you need to or try listening to white noise to cancel out distractions. Maybe establish set family break times so the kids know when they can and can’t visit.

  1. Video Chat

    Zoom and Skype meetings are everywhere these days, but they don’t have to always be a formal meeting. If you find yourself in a situation where, under normal circumstances, you’d just walk over to someone’s desk and ask them a question, why not video call them?

    The quality of communication is better “face-to-face,” which could save you time rather than going back and forth with emails. Not to mention the benefits of engaging with someone who’s in the same situation that you are. It’s one thing to know you’re not alone during this tough time, but it’s another to see it first-hand.

  1. Make Time for Exercise

    We say it all the time, but exercise is more important now than possibly ever before. Exercise is good for the brain, both in health and wellness. Exercise causes our brains to release an array of beneficial chemicals. Norepinephrine can be released, which can help improve attention, perception, and motivation. It also can cause a release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDFN), which can help protect and repair neurons from degeneration. “Feel-good” chemicals are released too, like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These chemicals can improve mood and help support better sleep.

    So, while you may not be able to go to the gym, there are still things you can do at home and even involve the kids. Try family yoga, do a relay race on the stairs, or do a few squats while holding a child, just be sure to get moving.

  1. Be Kinder to Yourself

    Most importantly, remember that these are unprecedented times, so it may take a while to figure out your groove. If the kids pull you away for longer than you’d like, or your to-do list doesn’t get wrapped up every day it’s okay. You’re doing your best and that’s all you can do.

Remember, if you’re struggling, reach out for help. Consider looking into remote counseling and tell someone that you’re struggling. While this is a tough time for many of us, it will pass, and we’ll get through it together.


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What Happens to the Brain during Exercise https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/what-happens-to-the-brain-during-exercise https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/what-happens-to-the-brain-during-exercise#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 19:45:29 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/?p=19991 The post What Happens to the Brain during Exercise appeared first on Neurocore.

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What Happens to the Brain during Exercise

March 26, 2020


close up of athlete's feet going up stairs

With all the gyms closed, you may be tempted to take a break from your regular workout routine. But you really should resist that tempation.

The benefits of exercise go beyond just staying strong and slender. Studies are beginning to show that exercise is one of the simplest, most effective ways to keep your brain sharp. In fact, some studies suggest that lifestyle interventions may be critical in helping stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s. Not to mention how exercise can improve your mental health, which we all could use some help with right now.

You may be wondering, what happens to the brain when we exercise that’s so beneficial? The answer has a bit of ambiguity to it. While scientists aren’t able to pinpoint one exact reason why exercise is so beneficial to brain health, countless studies have found a wide range of positive effects that exercise has on the brain.

How Exercise Affects the Brain

We know that exercise improves blood flow to the brain. About a third of the brain is made up of blood vessels alone. It’s no wonder that substantial blood flow is important to brain health. In fact, increased blood flow to the brain correlates with better cognitive function, improved memory, and overall protection against decline.

Increased blood flow also increases the amount of oxygen sent to the brain. Because the brain uses about 20% of our bodies’ total oxygen supply, it’s important it gets a sufficient amount.

Furthermore, exercise causes our brains to release an array of beneficial chemicals. Norepinephrine can be released, which can help improve attention, perception, and motivation. Exercise can cause a release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDFN), which can help protect and repair neurons from degeneration. “Feel-good” chemicals are released too, like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These chemicals can dull the sensation of pain, improve mood, and help support better sleep.

RELATED: How to Increase Dopamine Naturally

But it doesn’t stop there. It’s possible for exercise to go so far as to change the physical structure of your brain. One area that can be particularly affected is the hippocampus. This area is critical for learning and memory, but it also has a unique ability to generate new neurons daily. Neurons are an indicator of a healthy brain, so the more you have, the more you want to keep.

One study examined the relationship between regular aerobic exercise and brain health in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment. It found that the hippocampus grew significantly larger in the participants who took up consistent, regular exercise.

Best Exercises for Brain Health

If you’re sold on exercising for brain health but don’t know what to do, there’s good news. Essentially, any kind of exercise can benefit your brain.

Aerobic exercise (walking, running, etc.) has been linked to improvement in cognitive function and memory. Resistance training (weight lifting) may improve executive function – skills that help with time management, focus, and organization. Yoga and tai chi may help lower cortisol, decrease blood pressure, and improve mood and cognition.

Another great option is dance. Studies have linked dance to reducing stress, increased serotonin, and new neural connections. This is especially true in areas of the brain associated with long-term memory, executive function, and spatial recognition. This may be in part due to the need to remember steps, count, and move mindfully all at once.

So, don’t be afraid to start moving even if you’re not athletic. Something as simple as a (responsibly socially distant) walk is a great way to start getting used to being more active. Or sample a few exercise videos on YouTube to see what you’re most drawn to. The most important thing is picking an activity that you enjoy and will stick with even after the quarantine is over.

Sifferlin, Alexandra. (2017, April 26). “The Simple Reason Exercise Enhances Your Brain.” Retrieved from https://time.com/4752846/exercise-brain-health/
Park, Alice. (2014, July 14). “To Prevent Alzheimer’s, Diet and Exercise Are Effective, Large Study Shows.” Retrieved from https://time.com/2982908/to-prevent-alzheimers-diet-and-exercise-are-effective-large-study-shows/?iid=sr-link1
Godman, Heidi. (2018, April 5). “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.” Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

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7 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight Copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/7-easy-ways-to-get-better-sleep-tonight-copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/7-easy-ways-to-get-better-sleep-tonight-copy#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2020 20:20:48 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/7-easy-ways-to-get-better-sleep-tonight-copy The post 7 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight Copy appeared first on Neurocore.

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7 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

March 24, 2020


beautiful woman with closed eyes in bedroom in sunny morning at home

In the midst of pandemic chaos, you may have noticed changes to your sleep. You may be staying up later and sleeping in more. Or maybe you’re struggling to sleep at all. If this sounds familiar, it makes sense. Stress and anxiety can play a major role in the quality of sleep we get – and many of us are feeling stressedor anxious right now.

While we may not know how long our lives will be disrupted, we do know that prolonged sleep disruption can lead to complications like weight gain, depression, heart disease, stroke, and even dementia. Which is why it’s so important to make sleep a priority, now, maybe more than ever.

 Ways to sleep better at night

There’s good news, though. There are things you can do tonight to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Here are just a few:

  1. Stop watching the clock

    It may be tempting, but when you can’t sleep, try to resist the urge to check the clock. Knowing just how much sleep you’re losing will only create stress and anxiety, and neither will help you fall asleep.

  1. Reduce your blue light

    Our computer and phone screens emit blue light, which actually signals our brains to wake up. Try to stop looking at your phone and computer an hour before bedtime. If you need to look at your phone, switch it to sleep setting. Most smartphones can be adjusted in the settings section.

  1. Use light to your advantage

    Keep your bedroom dark with light-blocking blinds or drapes, and minimize the light given off by your alarm clock. Light is a major cue to your brain to wake up, so if you have a hard time waking up in the morning, open your blinds as soon as possible or consider getting a blue light to start your day.

  1. Go to bed when you’re actually tired

    If you’re not tired, you’ll likely end up watching TV, scrolling on your phone, or working from your bed. If you aren’t tired, go to another room to do these things and come back to bed when you’re tired enough to sleep. If you use your bedroom as a place dedicated only for sleeping, your mind will start to make that connection subconsciously.

  1. Write it down

    If you’re the type of person who thinks too much before sleep, keep a notepad on a bedside table. The act of writing down your worries or thoughts as soon as you get in bed can help program your brain to put your troubles aside before sleep and drift away more easily over time.

  1. Keep it cool and quiet

    Avoid music or leaving the TV on to fall asleep. If you need noise to sleep, use a white noise machine, or consider or a bedroom fan – actually, keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees at night is best for melatonin production.

  1. Keep a routine

    Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help get your body into a rhythm. Set your alarm clock so you’re getting 8 hours each night – even on the weekends.

These quick and easy tips are a great place to start, but if your sleep issues persist, there may be an underlying issue, like anxiety or depression.  Consider signing up for our remote counseling services to help you through this uncertain time.

npr. (2008, May 20). “Can’t Sleep? Neither Can 60 Million Other Americans.” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90638364

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Understanding the Relationship Between Stress & Depression – copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/understanding-the-relationship-between-stress-depression-copy https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/understanding-the-relationship-between-stress-depression-copy#respond Mon, 23 Mar 2020 19:57:02 +0000 https://www.neurocorecenters.com/?p=19960 The post Understanding the Relationship Between Stress & Depression – copy appeared first on Neurocore.

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Understanding the Relationship Between Stress & Depression

March 23, 2020


stressed man sitting at computer

If you’re feeling more stressed lately, you’re not alone. This level of uncertainty has us all stressed to some degree. It’s true that some degree of stress is healthy – after all, it’s part of why the human race has survived so long. When our ancestors were being chased by a tiger, it was stress that helped send their bodies into hyperdrive.

How are Stress & Depression Connected?

The problem is that today, the wear and tear of coronavirus stress can become harmful to not just our physical health, but our mental health as well. Chronic stress has even been known to contribute to, or trigger, depression for some people.

As many people know, cortisol is a stress hormone linked to a slew of physical health complications. Excess cortisol can contribute to heart disease, headaches, weight gain, and trouble sleeping, among other issues. But the stress-depression connection is a less talked about effect.

The Chemical Effects of Stress on Mental Health

Whether your stress is chronic (occurs over an extended period of time) or acute (occurs periodically), both can cause a spike in cortisol production and a dysregulation of brain chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine.

While research is continuing to uncover the complex role these chemicals play in mood regulation, both serotonin and dopamine have been shown to have an important impact on depression symptoms.

Dopamine is closely related to our feelings of motivation and reward. A hallmark symptom of depression is low motivation and a loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable – potential rewards.

Researchers used to believe that low levels of serotonin were correlated with depression symptoms, but we now know this isn’t necessarily true. While dopamine dysregulation is tied to certain depression symptoms, serotonin is now thought to impact the way in which we process emotions, which can affect mood.

When we’re not under stress, our bodies regulate this chemical production in a way that helps us get a good night’s sleep, feel energized, and be able to regulate our moods in a healthy way. But when we are under stress – especially long-term stress, like feeling stuck in a dead-end job – our chemical production can get thrown out of whack, which can put us at an increased risk for depression.

Stress Management

It’s important to find ways to manage stress to lessen the likelihood of it developing into other physical and mental complications. Luckily, there are ways to help manage all kinds of stress.

Acute vs. Chronic Stress

First, start by identifying your stress source. Ask yourself if it’s an internal or external source and if it’s acute or chronic stress. An internal source would be something like a fear – worrying about getting everything done on you to-do list. External stress comes from major life changes, like a global virus.

Being able to identify the source of your stress should help you gain more of a sense of control over the situation. From there, you can start to take steps towards managing your stress.

These steps for stress management could include:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Making getting better sleep a priority
  • Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation – yoga is a great way to blend exercise with deep breathing.
  • Finding a hobby and making time to enjoy it
  • Making FaceTime dates with people who make you happy
  • Having a “laugh folder” on your computer full of things that make you smile
  • Starting counseling

Remember that it’s normal to feel some level of stress right now, but if it feels like too much, consider remote counseling.

If you’d like to learn more about Neurocore’s remote counseling, give us a call at 800.600.4096. We’d be happy to chat about how we may be able to help.

Bruno, Karen. “Stress and Depression.” Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/stress-depression#1
Vandergriendt, Carly. (2018, May 9). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-vs-serotonin
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, April 21). “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.” Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

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