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.

In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

This event seeks to answer three fundamental questions:

  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
  2. Do we as a nation still agree on the core principles and values laid out by our founding fathers?
  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

Schedule a private tour or purchase general admission ticket below:

Dates:
June 15-17

Location:

Mercury Studios

6301 Riverside Drive, Irving, TX 75039

Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

We don't stand between government aid and people in need. We stand with people in need so they no longer need the government

Some of Mercury One's core initiatives include assisting our nation's veterans, providing aid to those in crisis and restoring the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. When evil prevails, the best way to overcome it is for regular people to do good. Mercury One is committed to helping sustain the good actions of regular people who want to make a difference through humanitarian aid and education initiatives. Mercury One will stand, speak and act when no one else will.

Support Mercury One's mission to restore the human spirit by making an online donation or calling 972-499-4747. Together, we can make a difference.

What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

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“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

RELATED: Glenn Addresses Tomi Lahren's Pro-Choice Stance on 'The View'

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.