Struck by Living: Top Ten for Mental Health Brain Protection for Adults

Editor's Note: The below was authored by Julie K. Hersh, a guest on tonight's Glenn Beck Program on TheBlaze TV.

Top Ten for Mental Health Brain Protection for Adults– Julie K. Hersh

Mental illness, like many diseases, is prime example of “what comes first?” Do genetics cause mental  illness or does the environment breed it? I always answer “both” to this question. How we react to our environment determines our mental health, oftentimes more than the environment itself. We’ve all seen one person devastated by failure or disappointment, while another person uses that same situation as motivation for future success. As Charles Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is that one that is the most adaptable to change."

This list has undergone various iterations – showing that a mental health list changes for different phases of life. The first five items are what I would call “brain preservation” tactics; things that I do on a daily basis to maintain health. The rest are more “stress management” techniques, and I have seen these items change as stress in my life changes. The key is to make your own list. No one keeps a list like this perfectly, certainly not me! Try to remember tomorrow is always a new day and a new chance to create good habits.

1. Sleep. Get the right amount. Most depressed people report problems with sleep. Depression, insomnia and anxiety combined are danger signals that (unchecked) can be precursors to suicidal behavior. I need about 7 hours of sleep a night. If I find myself sleeping less, closer to 5 or less a night, this is usually an indication that stress is interfering with my sleep. I cut back on caffeine, and don’t read electronics close to bedtime. If this does not work, I consult with my psychiatrist and use medication to ensure sleep.

2. Exercise. Due to an injury, in all three of my depressive episodes I was unable to run. Now I find an alternate exercise if injured. 150 minutes of brisk walking can reduce—and sometimes eliminate—depression according to research done by Dr. Madhukar Trivedi of UT Southwestern. For more information on exercise and brain function read Spark by John Ratey.

3. Medication: Be aware the Impact of Alcohol/Drugs and take medication if prescribed. Not everyone needs medication for mental health, but everyone needs to understand the impact of alcohol and drugs on brain function. Alcohol is a depressant and impacts brain hormone dopamine. Dopamine controls our ability to experience pleasure. When drinking, alcohol increases dopamine, hence the reason we feel good after a few drinks. Once drinking stops, dopamine levels drop at an escalated rate, leaving a person in a dopamine-deprived state. If you have a tendency to be depressed, alcohol or illegal drugs only compounds the impact of depression.

I take an antidepressant (which happens to be dopamine based) on a daily basis. Many people stop their medication as soon as their brains stabilize, only to see their depression reemerge. I did this in 2005. I relapsed and learned the hard way that a small bit of prevention ensures health. Medication (combined with the other actions on this list) creates a preventative buffer against a potentially deadly level of depression.

4. Meditation. I meditate on a daily basis, currently about 30 minutes. For me, mediation is a combination of meditation/prayer, although meditation has a different quality. Prayer is about asking, meditation is about listening and acceptance. While my prayer life has been sporadic and crisis-driven throughout my life, meditation has allowed for a deepening and consistency in both practices. Meditation often surfaces ideas and sources of comfort that I had not been able to obtain in the other areas of my action-packed life.

5. Nutrition. I’m convinced that Seasonal Affect Disorder - SAD (caused by lack of sunlight and a Vitamin D deficiency) played a part in my depression. All three of my depressive episodes began in January and peaked in the spring. All three occurred in gray weather – one was in South Bend and the other two were two of the rainiest winters on record in Dallas. I try to get 15 minutes of unprotected sunlight every day. SAD lamps and visors can be purchased for gray environments. Supplements can help with Vitamin D efficiency, but make sure to check with your physician to make sure you actually have a deficiency. Excess vitamins can sometimes lead to other unanticipated problems.

6. Friends and Family as a Barometer for Health. My family and friends are often the best people to help keep me honest with regard to my mental health. If they see me not sleeping, committing to too many tasks (more than usual) or withdrawing from social settings, they tell me. Remember, depression is a brain disease. Trying to solve depression with the very organ in your body that is broken is a difficult task.

7. Brain Engagement. A happy brain is a more productive brain. I try to have a day a month where I feed my brain with something I love that is not related to work. I love theater, art, and museums. I dismissed these things as unessential in the past. Today, I see them as critical for my thinking and creativity.

8. Avoid the Age Escalation Trap. Often, at least in the US, people of the same age group tend to socialize and work together, magnifying the problems of that age group. A simple question such as “Where will my child go to college?” or “How can I find a job?” becomes amped with anxiety, fueled by other people agonizing over the same thing. Someone out of the same age group - 10 years or more older (or younger) can act as a sounding board to keep problems in perspective. An older person often has the insight from weathering the same experiences we face. One of my most valued friends today is an 85 year-old man who helps me keep my 53 year-old worries in check.

He helps me maintain my sense of humor and perspective.

9. Plan proactively for a health crisis and know the signs of depression. These days I proactively call my psychologist when I am about to approach a major transition point in my life. I know my warning signs of depression (insomnia, lack of appetite, isolation) and together we are watchful during the transition period. If you are unsure what might be a sign of depression, check out this list from the Grant Halliburton Foundation: http://www.granthalliburton.org/knowthesigns.html.

Here is a 24-hour number for support: 1-800-873-TALK.

10. Remember that your value is more than what you do. High achievers have a tendency to feel like a failure unless they are constantly productive. That’s just not realistic. Oftentimes the moments we believe to be the worst in our lives become the turning point to a better path we never imagined. Unfortunately we often only see the path in retrospect. In the gray period of uncertainty, try to remember that you have value just in being. This is perhaps the hardest point for me to remember, but when I do, I laugh a lot more. This lesson humbles us, yet frees us to pursue our passions in the same instant.

Most of my life I have not been depressed. I use this list to keep my depression in check, so I can maximize the positive moments in my life. For more information about me, Julie K Hersh, check out my website: www.struckbyliving.com.

It's not just the Twitter mobs, the Leftist extremists and the flagrant fourth-wave feminists who want ICE abolished. As we've seen, there's a growing number of politicians who want to see it as well.

Cue Alejandro Alvarez, who in his 32 years has managed to cultivate his brand as a "serial immigration violator." Alejandro has been deported 11 times. Well, he's facing deportation once again, after allegedly "slashing his wife with a chainsaw." His wife is in recovery and is expected to survive.

RELATED: The cost of unchecked illegal immigration is very real, and very high

Around 3:00 pm last Wednesday, police arrived at Alejandro's. When they arrived, they found Alvarez's wife suffering from "traumatic physical injuries, believed to have been inflicted by a chainsaw." The couple's three children were huddled in fear inside the home. Alejandro's wife was rushed to a nearby trauma center for an emergency surgery.

Alejandro fled the scene of the crime, but was eventually hauled in by police and booked under "suspicion of attempted murder, child endangerment, hit and run, and grand theft auto."

Sounds like the kind of guy who should be in our country illegally, right?

ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley noted that "Immigration officers have lodged a detainer against Alvarez, requesting that local authorities notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement before his release to allow them to take the man into custody."

This is the new reality.

This is the new reality. The immigration agency has to ask for permission, to file requests, to have illegal immigrants who are guilty of crimes dealt with. Luckily for Alejandro, Los Angeles is a sanctuary city, so maybe he'll get another pass and be back on the streets in no time.

The Purple Heart is reserved for those wounded or killed during battle. Awarded by the President, the medal has George Washington's image right there on the front of it. Make no mistake, it is reserved for heroes. True heroes. Men and women who've faced death and still persevered. Soldiers who fought in battle at the cost of their limbs, their lives, or their inner peace. John F. Kennedy earned a Purple Heart for his heroism as a gunboat pilot in 1944. John McCain received one for, well, we all know his horrific story. Colin Powell. Roughly one million Purple Heart medals have been awarded to veterans, all of whom were determined to have fought valiantly, with courage and heart.

RELATED: An FBI Agent Was Dismissed From the Mueller Probe. What Happened?

So it was a bit of a head-scratcher to hear comments from Democratic Representative Steve Cohen from Tennessee and self-appointed "Leader in Effort to #ImpeachTrump." During a House Oversight Committee hearing questioning Peter Strzok, Cohen said, perplexingly, that Strzok deserves a Purple Heart. You know, because he's injured by all those mean text messages that HE sent?

As we've seen, other than Cohen's fanboy praise, Strzok hasn't gotten off easy. Thankfully. The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General wrote: "We did not have confidence that Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the [Anthony] Weiner laptop was free from bias."

Lack of confidence. I believe that's one of the criteria for a different medal. Not a Purple Heart, though. Sorry, Strzok, you'll have to get your trophy elsewhere.

Time mgazine is back at it again, reporting the real news, doing the proper journalism. One of their latest articles is sure to earn them a Pulitzer. Surely. The article is titled, "Women Are Buying Up Plan B Because They're Terrified of the Future Supreme Court."

Here's how the article opens:

Within hours of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement announcement last month, Emily Hauser was standing at a drugstore counter asking a pharmacist for two packages of Plan B. At age 53, she didn't need the emergency contraception pills — in fact, she wasn't sure who would, or when. But Hauser bought them anyway.

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I like that the article sets up Kennedy's retirement as an apocalyptic event. A recurring theme in the mainstream media, now that I think of it, especially lately. Here's the gist of it:

Across the country, Americans are stockpiling emergency contraception in light of Justice Kennedy's retirement and President Donald Trump's Monday nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. The nation's highest court is on its way to having a conservative majority, making threats against Roe v. Wade seem more dire than ever.

A good article includes backstory. History. The context. Here's what Time had to say about the sudden influx—some would say panic—in birth control:

To understand the interest in buying up Plan B, you need to brush up on Roe v. Wade. Some background: The court handed down the 7-2 decision in 1973, confirming that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is covered by the Fourteenth Amendment. Progress has been rocky since then.

Of course they reduce the issue to a series of strawman fallacies.

Ah, yes. Of course they reduce the issue to a series of strawman fallacies. At this point, it's impossible for those inflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome, and now Kavanaugh Derangement Syndrome, to have a civil conversation. They certainly aren't going to budge in their opinion. Our main goal, obviously, is to connect to them as fellow human beings, living in the same chaotic world, and, hey, maybe along the way they'll admit that, maybe, they're a little more biased and deranged than they previously realized.

If all you knew about American politics came from The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, or MSNBC, you'd think that a "Blue wave" is about to swamp the country, with hip, millennial geniuses like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez surfing the crest of the wave. In fact, you would already think Ocasio-Cortez is the greatest hope for America since Barack Obama.

America is a very large country, and reality is usually more complex than the media lets on. But, since the media already has their narrative and superstar Ocasio-Cortez set for this November, there's no room for another young, minority, female, child of immigrants, political outsider, from the ultimate blue-wave state of California, named Elizabeth Heng. Well, there probably would be room for a story like that, except that she's a conservative.

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Thirty-two-year-old Elizabeth Heng is running for Congress against Democrat Jim Costa, in California's 16th district. It's been 40 years since a Republican won in that district.

In the early 1980s, Heng's parents fled the violence in Cambodia and immigrated to the U.S. In 2008, after graduating from Stanford where she was student-body president, Heng opened several cell-phone stores with her brothers in the central San Joaquin Valley. Running her own business and managing 75 employees opened her eyes to a not-so-dirty secret about capitalism trying to survive the virus of progressivism. She says, "I saw firsthand how government regulations impacted businesses negatively. I constantly felt that from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, they were saying that I was everything wrong with our country, when all I was doing was creating jobs."

That's when she decided to venture to Washington, D.C., where she worked for six years learning the ins and outs of legislation and campaigning. She ended up working as a director for President Trump's inauguration ceremony, a job she managed while also finishing her MBA at Yale.

Fiscal responsibility isn't quite as sexy-sounding as free college for everyone.

One of the biggest lessons she learned working in Washington became the platform she is now running for office on: fiscal responsibility. She says, "In a family or a business, we don't suddenly act surprised when a budget comes up for the year. We get it done."

What a concept.

Still, fiscal responsibility isn't quite as sexy-sounding as free college for everyone. So, don't expect Elizabeth Heng to replace Ocasio-Cortez as the media darling anytime soon.