Learning Differences – What They Are and What They Are Not

Learning Differences are heart breaking for all concerned – a child’s self esteem is sacrificed; parents are emotionally pained and physically drained; teachers are perplexed and frustrated.

The most common learning differences are dyslexia (language learning disabilities), attention deficit disorderslearndiff (ADHD), nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD), and executive function disorder (EFD).  These may exist alone or in combination.  Below is an overview of each learning difference.

Dyslexia – Many learning differences involve language. These language-based learning differences, also referred to as dyslexia, or reading disabilities,  may show up as problems with reading, writing (dysgraphia), spelling, speaking, listening, and/or math (dyscalculia). Additional specific learning differences (SLD) include perceptual differences, or brain injury.

Nonverbal Learning Differences – In contrast to language learning differences, children with nonverbal learning differences (NLD) have difficulties with visual and spatial relations, which impact their ability to learn from nonverbal information. Kids with NLD often have trouble understanding the “big picture,” and because social interaction relies heavily on the exchange of nonverbal cues (e.g. body language, facial cues), children with NLD may be socially awkward.

ADHD – Although it is not included in the term-specific learning differences, ADHD involves problems regulating attention, which occurs often among children with learning differences. If not treated, ADHD interferes significantly with a child’s ability to learn and function in school, on the playground, and at home.

Executive Function Disorder – Executive Function Disorder (EFD) refers to difficulties carrying out the tasks that are a part of daily life—the ability to plan, organize, set goals, solve problems, regulate emotions, and monitor behavior. Because these skills are fundamental to what goes on in the classroom as well as in other settings, children with EFD often have significant problems in school and, as they grow older, in life.

Learning differences are not the result of:

  • Low intelligence
  • Poor instruction
  • Lack of motivation
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Seeing or hearing problems

Contrary to what some people think, people with LD are smart, talented, and resourceful; they just learn differently.

Some students with these challenges never get diagnosed as having a learning difference in spite of their struggles, but about 5-9% do get officially diagnosed because the discrepancy between their potential, or intelligence, and their actual performance is so great.

Learning and attention challenges are perplexing because they may cause very “able” individuals to be unsuccessful or “disabled” in certain situations. Children and adults with learning differences look and act like the rest of the population. They are bright and often talented in creative or physical areas. Their “difference,” with it’s accompanying frustration, hours of homework, and coping behaviors, rears its head in the face of specific tasks or expectations.

The most common reason for a child to struggle in school is weak or inconsistent learning skills or what you might think of as information processing skills. These underlying skills cause interference to learning. Unfortunately, they do not typically improve with time or traditional tutoring.  As a result students become more frustrated and anxious about their learning challenges. They may become angry or withdrawn. They may appear unmotivated or lazy. They may make poor decisions, feel like a failure, and quit believe in themselves.

The term ‘Learning Difference’ (LD) refers to an array of problems that cause bright and capable people of all ages to have difficulty learning using teaching methods found in most traditional classrooms.

While the underlying cause of LD remains a mystery, experts agree that it is neurologically based, meaning it results from differences in the way the brain is wired and processes information.

Although LD cannot be outgrown or “cured,” it can be compensated for and re-mediated. The better you understand the nature of your  learning difficulties, the greater your chances are of succeeding academically and socially. It’s important to understand people with LD may be highly intelligent and have considerable strengths upon which to build.

As incredible as it might sound, especially considering the profound emotional, physical, and mental impact, specific Learning Differences are usually not all that complicated brain-wise. With rare exception, the learning issue is being created by a localized brain dysfunction in an otherwise normal or even high functioning brain. Fortunately, the Quantitative EEG (computerized brain wave analysis) is efficient in detecting and defining these defective performance areas and Neurofeedback has shown the ability to re-mediate these dysfunctions and to optimize brain function.

Learning differences do not have to be permanent!

We live in an amazing time. In the last 20 years, brain research, as well as clinical evidence, has shown that the brain can literally be retrained to process information more quickly and easily.

The weak or inefficient underlying skills that cause learning differences can be developed. With specialized training the brain can learn to think and process information in more effective ways. Students don’t have to go through life crippled by their learning challenges.

Recent brain research tells us that the brain has plasticity, or the ability to change with training. Through intensive training that “stretches” an individual’s thinking, chemical and physical changes can occur in the brain. Because we know this kind of “neuro-rehabilitation” is possible, we also know that with the right tools and strategies, new, higher functioning neuropathways can be developed to permanently improve student’s overall processing and performance.

Our brains are continually modified by our experiences. This implies that programs which target processing and motor skills can improve those areas in students with brain injuries or motor or learning challenges. Learning differences can be corrected so that students can go on to live up to their potential!

Keep Your Brain Forever Young

As we age physically, we also age mentally. Many things can expedite that process, like chemotherapy, emotional trauma, injury, medications, or other treatments. The one we all deal with, though, is time. At a certain point, we have to be a little more intentional about “working out” the brain as if it were a muscle in the body.

What Happens in the Brain, Changes the Brain

There are a lot of factors at play in the brain as we age. While we develop new neurons throughout our lives and reach our peak brain size in our 20s, the brain eventually experiences a decline in volume and decrease in blood flow. The miraculous thing about the brain, though, is that studies have shown it can regrow and is capable of learning and retaining new information. In other words, it is capable of neural reorganization.

When the brain changes, we tend to change. Mental tasks become a little more difficult, as do forming new long-term memories and performing certain mental operations. Our cognitive function becomes more of a challenge. Other parts of who we are, like our confidence, social life, or work life may also suffer.

That’s why, to help maintain the brain’s plasticity—its ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections—we have to put in more effort by creating our own mental stimulation and treatment. There are several ways you can do this.

Active Body, Active Brain

Woman CyclingWhen you work out your body, you work out your brain. While I don’t recommend going crazy and starting P90X or other high-intensity training, I do recommend some physical activity. Studies have shown that physical activity is a promising strategy that influences the brain to enhance cognitive function and emotional function, particularly in late adulthood. Exercising regularly is great for refreshing the immune system, which can improve cognitive function and information processing by increasing volume of the hippocampus(the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system). So, go for a “fast walk” or purchase a stationary exercise bike so you can “Netflix and cycle.”

Eat, Sleep, Think

By eating right, you’re doing your brain a favor. For years, scientists have suspected that the intake of specific nutrients can impact cognitive processes and emotions. A primary nutrient? Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be obtained from dietary fish. This nutrient can improve synaptic and cognitive functioning “by providing plasma membrane fluidity at synaptic regions.”

Also, give yourself a rest. Circulation and the brain is imperative to the proper nutrients and oxygen reaching the brain cells. To maintain that proper circulation and brain energy metabolism, we must receive the right amount of sleep. Think of it like this: it’s a great excuse to sleep in. But really, make your sleep a priority. Your brain will thank you 5 to 10 years from now. (And when the alarm goes off.)

Multi-Task

Autumn CandlesOkay, that’s a little misleading. Rather, let your senses multi-task. Some studies over time have shown that, if you can’t give your full attention to both activities, you’ll experience a deficit in cognitive function. But, if you allow your senses to multitask, you could be doing some wonders for your brain. (It’s fun, too.) Perform two sensory tasks at the same time, such as watching the rain and listening to jazz. Or, listening to jazz and smelling the Fresh Autumn candle you just lit. Stimulate to form new connections.

Get Artsy

Tap into the passionate part of you that has a soft spot for the arts. That could be music, visual art, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, reading. There are so many options, and they all stimulate the mind in unique, creative ways that help with abstract thinking. One in particular that has become incredibly popular in the last 5 years: coloring books for grown-ups.

Music, whether listening or learning to play it, is always a great choice, as it is complex and multisensory and has a positive influence on neuroplasticity in several regions of the brain. It’s the integration of audiovisual information as well as appreciation of abstract rules that has been shown to improve cognitive skills of attention, control, motor function, visual scanning, and executive functioning.

Change is Good

Making small adjustments or changes to your regular routine can stimulate your brain to create some new thinking pathways, new connections. That could mean just taking a new route to work, eating something new for lunch, changing your computer background, anything simple like that.

Stay Positive

Don’t let the ageist stereotypes about memory decline keep you from being hopeful about your brain’s future functioning. Confidence is hard to craft, but treat yourself kindly, take the measures needed to be healthy all around, and understand that the more positive you are about your memory, the more likely you are to improve it.

Lastly, Use Science

To scientifically assess and improve neuroplasticity and performance, you can always involve professionals and utilize neuromodulation, which can come in the form of neurofeedback, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (pEMF), Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), and Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS). These stimulating neuro techniques use technology in a non-invasive way to increase blood flow and functional connectivity in the brain. In other words, our brains have taught us how to improve our brains.

This blog was previously posted in Prime Women magazine here.

How To Train your Brain to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Ever wonder how some people are able to handle extremely hectic schedules and still seem calm, relaxed and having fun while at it?  The answer is: They have effectively learned to manage stress and anxiety. We all know that stress can cause us to perform our work poorly and therefore, be less productive. When we have too much on our plate, we often end up not accomplishing what we planned to at the start of each day. You can guess what happens then – this causes more stress and adds anxiety which further compounds the problem!

The good news is that there are ways that you can train your brain to handle the stress and anxiety positively, resulting in increased productivity and more joy in your life.

There is exciting new research and positive case studies about a new treatment that has been used  to help treat stress and anxiety disorders in the brain. This treatment is referred to as neurofeedback and has been touted to be the savior when it comes to real-time treatments. This is an exciting development since many people are either unresponsive to brain-enhancing supplements or are simply looking for a safer and healthier alternative to drugs such as antidepressants – especially when treating children.

The mechanism fronted by neurofeedback is aimed at being more precise than previously available therapies. As such, it goes to target the dysfunction in the cognitive and emotional processes in the brain. These are the areas that underlie psychiatric disorders. It is hoped that treatments can be personalized to address the various challenges in the brain, taking to account that each patient has their own unique set of problems. Neurofeedback also studies phobia, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, obsessive compulsive behavior, ADD/ADHD, autism, depression, sleep disorders, chronic pain, learning differences, memory loss and migraines.  The best feature of neurofeedback is that it is safe. It eliminates the need for brain enhancing supplements and medication.

There are other safe, natural and free ways to train the brain to release ‘feel-good’ hormones to help stay relaxed and calm. The most obvious is by engaging in relaxing activities. These help wire the brain to be calm and relaxed as opposed to the normal day to day demands that stress us out.

A great ‘calming exercise’ is meditation. Meditation allows us to slow down all the activities going on in and around ourselves and find peace and serenity within. In so doing, it becomes much easier to notice when your internal balance is off and to how to react accordingly. Focusing on the now allows us to be more present and be sharp at mind.

Another way to reduce stress is to ward off anxiety. In most cases, our bodies overreact to a given threat – causing a rush of anxiety. When threats are overestimated, we find ourselves worrying too much, thus causing more stress. A great tool to manage anxiety is to remember a time when you truly felt strong and could cope with just about anything that was thrown at you. Next, make a list of all the various resources that can help you deal with the uncertainties of life. Then, try to meditate on how good it feels to be strong and safe. This good feeling helps the body come out with renewed energy and focus going into the future.

And finally – and this is sometimes harder than it sounds-  you need to learn to ‘let it go.’ We tend to hang on to the negatives in life. Let go of resentment, regret, pain and unrealistic expectations that you may have had in the past. Letting go allows one to be strong and gives one renewed energy to move on to better. Letting go can start off from something simple as saying goodbye to a friend, taking out the trash, donating some of your old stuff to charity, or just plain sending that email you have been procrastinating. Letting go helps one appreciate the past for what it was and move forward to the future with renewed focus. A simple exercise in ’letting go’ is to write yourself a letter describing how you’re feeling, then reading it aloud.  This ‘literal’ release of negative feelings allows the body to move on to a positive state with renewed feelings of calm and focus.

Are you overthinking things??

93700-Over-Thinking-Kills-Happiness

It  happens all the time.  Someone you know is going through something really tough.  You want to reach out to them, but you just don’t know what to say.  The more you think about it, the more your mind begins to overthink it.

We all have thoughts that inhibit our actions.  We question ourselves, should I call or email, or maybe text my friend in need? What if I say the wrong thing and make it worse? What if they don’t want to talk to me?  What if I make it worse?  Those negative self defeating thoughts keep coming and coming.  Sadly,  we end up not reaching out and continue to overthink the situations.

Our brains directly control our behavior. When the brain is ‘regulated’ properly it works better. It gives us clarity.  How do we get that clarity?

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback provide clearer thinking.

Biofeedback and  Neurofeedback are a great ways to help open our brain’s neural pathways that create self regulation to improve, and enhance our neurological and physiological responses. It can help us think more clearly and teach us how to respond to everyday stress in a healthy way. Biofeedback and neurofeedback provide the kind of evidence-based therapy that can benefit everyone. It enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance in our daily lives.

Clear thinking allows action:

  • Don’t assume others have called. Often, even good friends don’t call because they know what to say.
  • Don’t text or email. A phone call can make someone feel loved at a time they need it most. They will remember it.
  • Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. The act of you picking up the phone and giving your voice to their pain trumps any of the actual words you’d use in the conversation.
  • If they don’t want to talk, they won’t answer. Leave a message. It means just as much.
  • If you’re worried about it being uncomfortable, you’re focusing too much on yourself. The phone call isn’t about you. It’s about them, and there is nothing uncomfortable about taking a few minutes to let another human know they matter.

Don’t overthink things.  Just call.

What Being in Love Does to The Brain?

We have all heard about the “look of love” but love has a lot more to do with the brain than the eyes. To some, love seems mysterious – people fall in love in mysterious ways. There was song from the 90’s, Love Moves in Mysterious Ways.  But science clearly provides an explanation. When a person is falling in love with another individual, their brain gets flooded with hormones and chemicals that generate feelings of pleasure, attachment and obsession. So, what does being in love do to the brain?

Hormone Rush

When someone is in love for the first time, their brain experiences a certain hormonal rush. Oxytocin, also called the “love hormone”; dopamine, or the “pleasure hormone”; and testosterone and estrogen, the sex hormones are the ones that get activated. Other hormones, such as adrenaline, cause the heart to beat faster. Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, also increase during this stage. As cortisol levels go up, neurotransmitter serotonin levels start to deplete.

Increased dopamine concentrations in the brain are linked with a relatively unique or novel environment. Increased dopamine levels are also linked with heightened motivation, attention and objective-directed behaviors. These parallels indicate that dopamine levels are going up in the person as they focus their attention on a beloved.

Becomes Addictive

Falling in love could lead to obsessive thoughts and an intense desire to spend as much time possible with the person one is in love with. And the person feels like they are addicted to the other person. Neuroscience research studies have found that falling in love with another individual activates the same part of the brain that cocaine addiction triggers. Romantic love could activate the opioid system of the human brain. And when a love relationship goes wrong or it comes to an end abruptly, there is a major risk of emotional distress and depression for both or one of the individuals involved.

Hurts Focus

People who have been in romantic relationships could know how distracting the feeling of love could be. Besides major changes in attention and emotion, passionate love also reduces cognitive control. However, the same passionate love leads to enhanced attention toward the beloved. Many people have reported that they expend 85 percent of the time they’re awake thinking about their beloved.

Serotonin levels dip when a person falls in love. And this depletion of serotonin precipitates intrusive, vexingly preoccupying thoughts. When the link between cognitive control and passionate control was examined among a group of students who recently were embroiled in a passionate relationship, it was deduced that the increased intensity of passionate love correlated with their reduced cognitive control efficiency. 

 Strengthens Empathy

 A romantic relationship activates the human brain’s emotion and empathy-processing centers. It also makes the individual less self-focused. Falling in love, like meditation, increases the brain’s grey matter volume, which is linked with emotion processing. However, this empathy is a lot more toward the person one is in love with and not necessarily for other people around them. When in love, a person would be able to feel the pain of their romantic interest a lot more earnestly than anybody else and will also willingly forgo anything for the other person.

 Differential Impact

 The impact love has on the human brain varies with the actual stage of love the concerned person is in. MRI scans can help accurately ascertain the stage of passionate or romantic love the individual is in, based on their cerebral activities. If someone has recently fallen in love, their brain’s reward center gets activated since it’s experiencing a significant amount of pleasure. This also produces a variety of emotional and physical responses, such as racing hearts, flushed cheeks, sweaty palms and feelings of anxiety and passion. The reward center experiences a decline if the person in love breaks up with the other person, causing a dip in the associated pleasure. At this stage, there is also a sharp reduction in functional connectivity and activity.

 Lifelong Impact

 With everlasting love, people invariably do not fall out of love and stay connected with the individual for the rest of their life. This explains why some couples – who fell in love early in life – remain in love even during their 60s, 70s, and beyond. According to a 2011 study, certain regions of the brain among happily, long-time married couples exhibit similar activity. When one of the two is not around, the other person feels irritable or restless. They may resent friends and family even though they spend pretty much all their free time together. When love is in the air, things look beautiful, everywhere you look.  Close your eyes and think back to Barry White signing Love Is in The Air or google it!

 https://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/love-and-brain

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-013-9380-3

https://www.dana.org/article/brains-do-it-lust-attraction-and-attachment/

6 MOOD BOOSTERS TO TRY IF YOU’RE SINGLE ON VALENTINE’S DAY

For individuals in relationships, Valentine’s Day can be tremendously thrilling. Particularly if you have an affinity for grand gestures of love, this day can be the perfect justification for going all out. However, if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, “love day” might remind them of how alone you feel.

For some, the day of romance can feel like a burden, especially those who are grieving the absence of a relationship. These can bring up bittersweet or unpleasant memories of the past and feed into feelings of loneliness. Below are some tips on how singles can stay upbeat and occupied on when you’re single on Valentine’s Day.

Do Not Stay In

Make efforts to ensure that the night of Valentine’s Day is not spent alone at home. If your loved ones are unavailable, do some volunteer work, check out a cookery class, seek out a singles event or get otherwise involved. Typically, there are some ‘anti-Valentine’s’ events going on and you’ll be surprised by how many individuals head out alone.  This might take some amount of courage. However, it is a great reminder of the number of people who are in a similar situation as you. Sitting home alone, it can feel as if you are the only individual in the world who is not in a relationship. However, this is not the case.

Go Out with Loved Ones

single on Valentine's Day

There are many individuals in our lives who we adore, and a significant other is only one of those individuals. There is nothing that stipulates that because you are not currently involved in a relationship that you cannot spend the day with someone you love and care for. Make Valentine’s Day plans with your best friends, siblings or parents. Remind yourself of how difficult pinning some people down can be when they are in a relationship. You should also rejoice in the fact that you are able to dedicate quality time to other individuals in your life who you love.

Pamper Yourself

Being single on Valentine’s Day gives you the opportunity to engage in whatever you want to do. You don’t need to check in with anybody else. This time away from needing to compromise without having to worry about another person’s needs or wants presents a tremendous opportunity to unselfishly and deservedly concentrate on yourself. “Love day” provides a wonderful chance to pamper and celebrate yourself. Go ahead and spoil yourself by indulging in loving, self-care gifts. Try a scented bubble bath, a facial, a manicure, a pedicure, a massage or a makeover.

Go Get Physical

Traditionally, yoga studios, running trails and gyms are crowded on Valentine’s Day and this is for good reason. Since the heart is way more than just a symbol for Valentine’s Day, keeping it healthy is an essential part of self-love and care. Not being a part of a couple on Valentine’s Day makes it a remarkable time to get into a workout facility. Or even try a Zumba class and dance yourself happy.

Quit Complaining

Loneliness is a painful feeling that can gnaw at your gut and make you miserable; but only if you allow it. It is quite understandable that you might want to vent and grumble for a bit. However, constant complaining tends to annoy other people and make things seem worse than they really are. Among the things that take place when you are complaining repeatedly — even when individuals are caring enough to listen for the first few times — is that you reinforce the issues you are having. You are basically causing your brain to become aggravated repeatedly. Which will only feed the negativity and cause you to feel worse.

Find Satisfaction in Your Situation

If your circumstances do not permit you to date or you opt not to, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Thankfully, your self-worth is not defined by the existence of a significant other or the lack of thereof. There is definitely no need to rush to be in a relationship by Valentine’s Day. Just ensure that you are happy despite your relationship status.

Can Positive Affirmations Create Positive Changes in Your Brain?

Positive affirmations have more power than you think for improving attitudes and challenging those negative thoughts. Growing up I heard two phrases” you are what you eat” and “you are what you think”. As a teenager both were equally difficult to accept and change. Affirmations are positive thoughts that can be used for support and encouragement. When you repeat them daily and believe in them, they will help make positive change in your life.

 

The Power of Positive Thinking

 

Truly successful people in all areas of life don’t just stumble their way to success. They work hard to achieve their goals, and positive thinking can be the key to success. Positive affirmations can inspire and motivate you to take yourself to the next level, whether that is an extraordinary athlete, entrepreneur or top author.  

If you’re relatively new to the idea of expressing positive affirmations, they come in different designs.  Some help you to acknowledge the good that can come from daily life. Here a few of those:

  • I will learn something positive from each mistake I make.
  • I will find someone to share my life with by taking a greater interest in other people.
  • I will not give up on my dreams but pursue each goal steadily until I succeed.

There are affirmations that focus on what you can control and the choices you make in life. Some example of that would be;

Being happy is a choice I make daily and I am grateful for the opportunities that I accept. 

My life is just beginning and I will design it for a peaceful life style. 

My marriage is becoming stronger and stable every day.

What is most important is to believe in yourself and use verbal expression to strengthen your commitment.

Some people have more success by placing their affirmations in the present tense:

  • I am succeeding in my business goals monthly.
  • I make progress in losing weight each day.
  • I support my children as they achieve their goals

Reprogramming Your Thought Patterns

You can reprogram your thought patterns with daily positive affirmations. There is research that supports affirmations to be proven methods of self-improvement.  Just like exercise, utilizing affirmations will increase the production of feel good neurotransmitters that make us feel more positive.

You might have to experiment to find the perfect formula for making positive affirmations, but the technique works and has been proven in scientific studies. The self-affirmation theory has been tested in neuroscientific research, and the findings include evidence that positive affirmations strengthen key neural pathways related to self-worth and taking positive action. Studies also show that positive affirmations reduce stress, reinforce media messages about the best practices for good health and have a positive impact on diet and exercise.

https://positivepsychology.com/daily-affirmations/

https://www.thecut.com/2015/11/why-self-affirmation-works.html

http://www.brainsync.com/blog/rewire-your-brain-with-affirmations/

COULD CBD BE A NEW SOLUTION FOR DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY?

What exactly is CBD?  It is a kind of natural compound called a cannabinoid, which is derived from the cannabis plant.  It is directly derived from the hemp plant which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. This is where it gets confusing, which plant does it come from? The main difference is the level of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabis plants contain.  THC is linked to a “high;” however, CBD is made from industrial hemp that does not contain THC. Even the minuscule trace amounts found in full-spectrum CBD are sterile and don’t have psychotropic effects.

You may find CBD advertised everywhere you look in many different formations. I saw a collagen mask with CBD oil in a wellness store being touted as an anti-aging product. In recent years, there has been a surge in the popularity of CBD as new studies explore the potential health benefits.  Several studies suggest that CBD products, like the oil, may be helpful for symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia.

How It Can Help

If you are considering the use of CBD for therapeutic reasons, it is important to understand that the studies around CBD are non-conclusive. In the last decade, many studies were conducted. However, the majority were done using animals.

This indicates that the possible benefits of CBD being an effective treatment for depression in human beings are speculative. Still, CBD appears to have several benefits for depression, particularly for dealing with:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Anxiety

In addition, CBD and THC may be beneficial for conditions possibly related to depression, like chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using animals, that CBDD applied to the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis.

>READ: ADD CBD OIL TO YOUR FIGHT AGAINST CHRONIC INFLAMMATION?

Research Findings

Experts believe the potential benefits of CBD for depression and anxiety are associated with its positive outcome on serotonin receptors in the brain. It is highly likely that low amounts of serotonin are linked to depression. CBD does not necessarily improve levels of serotonin, but it could impact how the chemical receptors in your brain react to the serotonin that is currently in your system.

 

 

A 2014 study conducted on animals found that the effects CBD has on the brain receptors are both anti-anxiety and antidepressant.  A more recent study conducted in 2018 concluded that CBD contains anti-stress effects, which could lower stress-related depression. The studies are promising, but bottom line, without high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses.

This area is being actively researched and new reviews and studies are published each year. As researchers start to have a better understanding of CBD and its potential concerns or benefits, information on how to use the product most effectively will continue to change.

>READ: WHY CANNABIS IN OINTMENTS, LOTIONS AND DRINKS IS A THING NOW

Side Effects

So far, it does not appear that CBD causes many side effects. However, there are some individuals who might be more sensitive to the compound and experience side effects like:

  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability

It is challenging to know whether CBD results in any long-term side effects because of a lack of research. At this point, no major long-term risk has been identified by experts. Bear in mind that this is not an indication that there is none. It just means researchers have yet to encounter any.

In a review conducted by the World Health Organization in 2017, it was concluded that CBD is safe in general. However, they noted that adverse effects could result from interactions between certain medications and CBD. Also, be sure to note that CBD is not regulated by agency. So be sure you are getting high-quality CBD, from a reputable source that uses effective extraction methods.

To lessen the risk of side effects, ensure that you have a discussion with your healthcare provider prior to using CBD. This is vital if you take herbal supplements, over-the-counter medications and prescription medications.

>READ: WILL CBD HELP THE PAIN IN YOUR JOINTS AND MUSCLES?

4 Ways to Use CBD

 

 

There are four formulations in which CBD is available.  They are:

  • Vaping With CBD Oil. This is one method of quickly ingesting the compounds. However, some debate is there about the long-term safety of this technique. Additionally, it can cause throat irritation and coughing as well.
  • Oral. This includes oils, sprays, capsules and tinctures. The mixes can be taken as is or they can be used in coffee, smoothies or other preparations.
  • Edible. There is an abundance of CBD-infused gummies, foods and drinks currently available on the market.
  • Topical. CBD-infused creams, lotions and other beauty products are currently quite popular. The products contain CBD and you apply directly to skin.  However, it is likely that this formulation is better for pain and not necessarily mental health uses.

Research has revealed that the compound is generally safe. However, it could interact with existing medications. As such, it is wise to speak with your healthcare provider and get a professional review of your medications and other supplements you currently take before you start using CBD. But CBD is becoming a popular remedy for a variety of health issues, including anxiety and depression.

Make 2020 the most successful New Year yet!

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect and many of us have evaluated the last few months and are looking for what we can do better.   The new year, the new decade, brings hope and excitement for the future. In our enthusiasm we can set unrealistic goals that could leave us burnt out or frustrated. Here are some tips that will give you a clearer vision on how to set yourself up for success in 2020.

 

1. Ask yourself what is really important to you.

 

Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish next year and think about why you have included each item. Why are they important? What do they mean to you? Are these goals part of a larger long-term plan? Are you just trying to impress your friends? You need to answer these now to have a solid mental foundation. When things get tough, you can draw on your motivations to keep going instead of giving up. For example, you might want to run your first 5K race to lose weight and be healthy for your children. 

 

2. Establish your priorities.

 

You have several goals and only one year to accomplish them. You need to set clear priorities in order to make meaningful progress. After all, you have a limited amount of free time each day. Your resources are also limited and, you still have work and other responsibilities to attend to. Focus your energies on those that matter most. What would make the biggest positive impact on your future? It really depends on where your priorities lie. Of course, priorities can change so be prepared if that happens.

 

3. Be flexible.

 

It is common to overestimate what we can actually finish. We also fail to anticipate possible challenges along the way. When we fall behind, we get frustrated and lose motivation. It is better to set realistic goals and provide a level of flexibility around each goal.  For example, you might want to read a book per week or 52 books in one year. When you set this goal consider your available time to read, and whether this is all done on personal time. If the reading is for professional enrichment may be some can be done during the work day.

 

4. Create a system that will help you achieve your goals.

 

It is easy to do something good from time to time. However, doing this consistently is difficult. Most people start out guns blazing in January but falter from February onwards. It’s not that they were lazy or incapable. They simply did not have a system that could ensure continued achievement day in and day out. Runners make it a point to wake up early every morning to finish their workouts before responsibilities take over. If they only ran when they found free time, then they are unlikely to train consistently to get faster.

 

5. Optimize your environment.

 

Discipline is surely a vital part of maintaining a system. However, you cannot rely on willpower alone. It will quickly get exhausting if you are in a constant struggle to do what is right. Consider optimizing your environment instead. Make it easy to accomplish your tasks. For example, set a daily alarm to wake yourself up early. Open the curtains facing east to welcome the sun. Prepare healthy meals in advance so you can just heat them up when you’re hungry. Get your shoes, socks, and running clothes ready before going to sleep.

 

6. Eliminate distractions.

 

Even if we know what we should do, we often drag our feet and give in to distractions. We waste countless hours on our phones checking social media, chatting with friends, or playing games. These aren’t bad as long as we limit them. Install an app that can track your phone usage. If you are distracted at home, then work or study in a library.

 

7. Stay focused on your goals.

 

Sometimes we can’t get a rhythm going because we keep thinking about other things we want to do. These may be good ideas you don’t want to forget so write them down in a notebook. Park them for later and resume working on your main task. Get back to these at the end of the day if time allows and tackle them one by one. 

The New Year is a great time to learn from past mistakes and establish better habits. Ensure that you reach your goals this time by keeping them realistic and setting yourself up for success.

https://www.success.com/44-ways-to-kick-start-your-new-year/

https://www.gailgazelle.com/new-years-resolutions-10-tips-to-set-yourself-up-for-success/

https://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/why-set-yourself-up-for-failure-ditch-new-years-resolution-do-this-instead.html

Relax And Be Cheerful This Holiday

The approaching holiday season invariably fills us with feelings of warmth and joyful anticipation. We can spend more time with family and friends, go on a vacation, take time away from work, relax and get refreshed. That said, unless we welcome the holidays with the right mindset, they can turn into sources of stress and anxiety.

The words “holiday stress” have in fact become part of popular jargon these days and for good reasons. We work all year long and when the holidays are approaching, it is only natural that we will try to make the best of them. However, the problem seems to lie in the fact that often in our eagerness to get the most out of the holidays or the festive season, we sometime end up overdoing things a little and this may often lead to stress, frustrations, disappointments, etc.

Don’t run after a “perfect holiday.” Quit trying to make the perfect holiday. This should be your basic guideline for cutting off the stress factor from your holidays. No matter what we are doing during the holiday season, visiting or preparing special dinners with family members and the friends, we always set certain expectations. And that is only natural. However, as it is with everything in life, things often don’t turn out exactly as we had planned. No matter how diligently you’ve planned your activities some slight disasters may still ensue. Kids may break out in tears when you were least expecting it, or you may get into arguments with your spouse. It is all how you look at it. Don’t see these things as spoiling your vacation. Take them in stride and do your best to make light of them and everyone will be happier for that.

Do not pander to other’s expectations. We often put unnecessary stress on ourselves by putting undue emphasis on other’s opinions and expectations. Giving and receiving gifts, for example, often acts as a common source of anxiety and stress during the holiday season. Have we chosen the proper gifts for such and such a person? Will he/she be happy with the gifts? Don’t fret too much over these things. Gifts do not make the holidays. It is the mutual sense of joy and camaraderie that does. As long as you’ve chosen your gifts with care and thought that must suffice since that is the best you can do after all.

Sometimes, even your kids may feel not happy with their gifts and that may feel bad for you. Nevertheless, don’t let that spoil your mood. Instead, try to reason with them. Kids are kids after all, and we cannot expect them to be all rational all the time, right?

How much money do you have to spend? Closely associated with the problem of gifts is the question of money, especially if money is a bit tight during holiday season. It is common to let the lack of money get in your way of enjoying the holidays to the fullest.

However, it needn’t be so. Come up with some creative ideas. For adults, a White Elephant gift exchange is a good idea. You may also consider some non-material gifts such as framed family pictures or notes or drawings from your kids are good options. Work within your means and those who really care for you will appreciate receiving such thoughtful gifts.

The same goes for decorations and other holiday preparations. Again, do not strive for perfection. The Christmas tree does not have to be the most spectacular in your neighborhood. Instead, try as much as possible to engage family and friends in the process. So, for instance, assign certain responsibilities for decorations to the kids alone. And you can be certain that the kids will be happy and proud of their handiwork and so will you and your guests.

Look back on your year and feel grateful. Finally, take some time to reflect on the past year and dwell on the good things that it has brought you. Of course, there will be a few things that didn’t turn out quite according to expectations. That is only natural (and expected, right?). So, don’t dwell on the negative but reflect on the good things and feel sincerely grateful that they have happened to you. We now know that feeling truly grateful gives us a natural high as these feelings release in our brains compounds such as serotonin and dopamine — responsible for immediately lifting our mood and making us feel happy and serene from inside.

On a final note, the most important thing is to be able to relax and feel joyful. If you can achieve that, the holidays will turn out to be a ‘perfect’ one for you.

A Fox News Radio contributor, Richardson has spent her educational and professional career learning human behavior. She holds a Master of Science in Counseling from the University of North Texas and is working to integrate cognitive behavioral therapy into the treatment programs for many clients. In April 2009, Richardson opened The Brain Performance Center.