Stress Headaches

Stressed Asian woman biting pencil while sitting in front of laptop during daytime

When Tension Headaches Disrupt Your Day

Stress headaches, also known as tension headaches, are a type of headache that come about when you are experiencing stress, inadequate sleep or poor posture. They’re described as dull pain, tightness or pressure around your forehead or the back of your head and neck. Some describe it as a band squeezing their head.

Stress headaches are extremely common: there are about 3 million cases in the U.S. every year. They’re usually self-diagnosable, self-treatable and resolve within days to weeks. Treatments include pain relievers, ice or heat pads on sore muscles and good posture. But probably the most important factor is the alleviation of stress in your life.

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. When you experience stress, what most likely is occurring is increased myofascial pain sensitivity caused by sensitization of neurons in the supraspinal region.

In other words, stress is bad. And believe it or not, stress also increases your blood pressure and places a greater strain on your heart; it also increases your chances of developing a stroke. Tension headaches are actually very minor compared to what stress can do to your body in the long-term.

When you consistently experience stress headaches, then you know it’s time to make some adjustments to your daily routines. You have to identify what factors are stressful in your life and fix them. Maybe work is getting to you. Then try fixing something about your work, such as adjusting your pace or the way you approach work mentally.

Maybe you’re not getting enough exercise in your life. Exercise is a great source for the alleviation of stress: it helps you escape pressure and the demands of work and family life. It’s also very healthy and makes you feel great mentally, physically and emotionally. You cannot go wrong with exercise.

Maybe your sleep hygiene is slacking. Are you getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night? Yes, we all know that you’ve heard this one a thousand times, but how come you’re still not applying it? Sleep is crucial for a well-functioning brain! In order to feel less stress and perform more optimally, you need to treat yourself right with 8 hours of sleep per night.

By getting rid of stress, improving your sleep hygiene and posture and exercising at least 2-3 times a week, you will start to feel much better in many aspects of your life. You will also notice that your stress headaches will dissipate and you will start feeling great again! Start making the changes today.

(As always, feel free to check out DSM Gear for some cool accessories and make sure to click the share buttons below to spread the message to your family and friends)

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Creatine: Not Just for Muscle — Human Performance Psychology

If you’re involved in sports that require speed, power, and strength, then you’ve likely come across creatine before. The supplement gained prominence in the early 1990s as a method of enhancing strength, and since then research has continued to explore its use as a sports performance aid. Beyond muscle, creatine is a supplement that […]

Creatine: Not Just for Muscle — Human Performance Psychology

Lyme Disease

Panoramic photography of man in blue jacket with backpack standing on grass in front of trees

When Ticks Take A Bite

As most people have probably heard, famous superstar Justin Bieber has been battling lyme disease, a vector-borne disease commonly spread by the deer tick in the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-cental United States. But it’s not the tick itself that causes the disease, but rather the bacterium that lives inside the tick, also known as Borrelia Burgdorferi. When the tick takes a bite, the bacteria is inoculated into the bloodstream of the individual.

About 3-30 days after an individual is infected with the bacterium, common symptoms develop such as: fever, fatigue, joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and a classic “bull’s-eye” skin rash known as erythema migrans. If left untreated, more serious signs and symptoms usually develop a few months later.

These may include: neck stiffness, swollen knees with severe joint pain, facial palsy (drooping of one side of the face), heart palpitations known as “lyme carditis“, nerve pain, tingling in the hands and feet, etc. Diagnosis is done clinically based on signs and symptoms, as well as on blood samples measuring antibodies made by the body in response to infection.

There are even reports that when lyme disease infects the brain, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as psychosis, rapid mood swings, episodes of rage, depression, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts. That’s why it’s very important to receive an early diagnosis, so that treatment can be started right away.

The early stages of lyme disease have a good prognosis. Treatment involves oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or doxycycline. If more advanced cases such as “lyme carditis” or “neuro lyme” develop, intravenous antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin are used. Most people start to recover within a few weeks of starting the antibiotics.

It is important to note that if fatigue, difficulty thinking and muscle aches continue to last approximately 6 months after treatment was started, the patient may have something called “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” or “chronic lyme disease.” There is no proven treatment at the moment for chronic lyme disease; however, patients eventually feel better after many months.

The way to prevent lyme disease is to make sure that you remain covered up when exploring wooded or grassy areas. Also wear repellant, immediately shower after being outdoors and check for any tick bites. It’s not that difficult to miss a tick bite and be walking around with lyme disease for weeks at a time without even knowing it.

Safety always comes first; mentally and physically.

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Intermittent Fasting

Young brunette woman smiling while eating pasta at wooden table

Sticking To A Healthy Diet And Exercise

There is some hype regarding intermittent fasting and its benefits. Intermittent fasting (intermittent energy restriction) is the adoption of various meal timing schedules that alternate between fasting and non-fasting over a given period of time. The idea is that by switching up your eating intervals, your body snaps out of its regular metabolic rate, resulting in increased cellular breakdown of glucose, the burning of more fat and eventual weight loss.

It sounds like another modern-day gimmick for people who struggle to lose weight. All of these diet fads are nothing more than attempts by society to get you to try various weight loss programs. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, a person is going to eat whatever they want; no dieting or fasting will prevent them from doing so.

And why is that? Because it comes down to personality and mindset. If you are truly motivated to lose weight, then you will do whatever it takes to lose it in a healthy manner. You won’t have to rely on diet fads and new ideas to make it happen. It always comes down to a few basics: eat less, eat healthier and exercise your core off!

Why would you ever want to expose yourself to hunger and irritability and wait a few weeks, until your body becomes adjusted to intermittent fasting? It makes absolutely no sense. Anyone who struggles with weight loss would probably give up after a day of fasting. And anyone who already has a normal BMI would never need to fast in the first place.

Unless you are doing it for religious purposes, then there is no good reason to fast. You’ll find tons of articles out there from physicians relying on scientific evidence that intermittent fasting is healthy, and can lead to weight loss, decreased blood pressure and improved glucose regulation. Whoopee! Or you can just stop being lazy and go exercise three times a week, while consuming less carbohydrates and fats.

Humans are pleasurable creatures: we strive on dopamine spurts throughout the day. And there is nothing wrong with rewarding ourselves with food. Sleeping, eating and having sex are the most natural activities of all living creatures. Why mess around with one of them, just because modern-day science is entertaining the idea of intermittent fasting?

It’s good to keep up to date with medical advances and new recommendations, but until more legitimate evidence exists, it’s better to just stick with the basics. No college student goes to medical school to learn how to recommend intermittent fasting to their patients; it’s not part of the curricula.

Always be honest with yourself. How many of you are entertaining the idea of intermittent fasting, because the thought of eating healthier and exercising more sounds unbearable? There’s the problem in the first place: the thought sounds unbearable because you are not willing to put in the effort.

People are always looking for shortcuts in life, but shortcuts do not deliver solid results. Discipline and hard work do.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Can’t Keep My Eyes Open

Tired young man laying in bed with sunrays shining on face

Exhausted But Still Kicking

The lack of sleep is a silent killer, similar to uncontrolled high blood pressure. While high blood pressure viciously attacks your organs such as your brain, heart, kidneys and more, the lack of sleep nonchalantly attacks your mental well-being. And so you start to rely on coffee, energy drinks, stimulants or a bunch of sugar.

While not the best way to go about your day, millions of people worldwide are sleep-deprived due to a poor sleep hygiene. Not having enough time to sleep is only an excuse propelled by those who actually do not have the discipline to get a full night’s 8-hour rest. It’s not hard to get good sleep, but are you interested in getting it in the first place?

The worst days are when you wake up and can’t keep your eyes open! All you can think of is emailing your employer, “leave me alone for today, I don’t want to think about you” and climb back into bed and peacefully snooze. That sounds nice and can definitely be done once in a while, but should not be your go-to-strategy.

And even if you sleep all day, it’s just not the same quality of sleep as you get during the night, especially when going to bed earlier in the evening. Sometimes it’s worth considering taking days off from work in order to refresh your mind and unwind your chakras. But your best strategy should be an awesome sleep hygiene!

You may be exhausted and still kicking, but is that really how you want to go about your day? Wouldn’t have it been easier to just go to sleep on time the previous night? But that’s where a lot of us struggle: we want to watch another episode of a Netflix show, talk an extra hour on the phone, fall deeper down the YouTube hole, etc.

The excuses for not getting enough sleep at night can pile up, until you become chronically sleep-deprived and start to experience a change in your mental well-being. Lack of sleep is associated with irritability, sadness, anger, anxiety and a poor outlook on life; it’s associated with feeling incomplete!

Can’t keep your eyes open but are still kicking? Good. A little pain is what it sometimes takes to make a change in poor behavior.

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Punch-Drunk Syndrome

Man walking towards boxing ring surrounded by audience

Living With Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs after repeated head traumas and multiple blows to the head. It tends to occur in athletes such as boxers and hockey and football players, but may also be seen in cases of domestic violence and military personnel exposed to concussions. The symptoms tend to occur 8-10 years later. The disorder is based on a clinical judgment, since a definitive diagnosis does not occur until after death, available as autopsy results.

There are four stages. Some of the first symptoms include confusion, dizziness and headaches. This is followed by memory loss and impulsive behavior. Eventually, dementia, vertigo, depression, deafness and suicidality occur. There are many more symptoms which may occur, such as:

  • Pathological jealousy
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Parkinsonism
  • Speech problems
  • Unsteady gait

Pathologically, there is atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as well as the hippocampus, mammillary bodies and amygdala. There is also evidence of neuronal loss, white matter changes, hyperphosphorylated tau protein deposition, thinning of the corpus callosum, dilated ventricles, and much more. The disorder causes a great deal of damage to the brain, especially after years of repetitive blows to the head.

There is no effective way of preventing this disorder, unless one quits the sport or activity which increases their risk of repetitive concussions and head trauma. One important method of helping to prevent this disorder is the time-off period required after a concussion or head trauma.

Immediately returning to a sport or activity without providing enough time for recovery, increases the chances of experiencing future impacts followed by neurological complications. But even if this protocol is followed, it’s not going to prevent boxers from being exposed to heavy hits or football players from experiencing helmet-first tackles. Some have even called for the banning of boxing!

At this moment in time, there is no treatment for CTE. As with other forms of dementia, supportive treatment is provided. This involves having a caregiver guide and help take care of the patient at home. When one experiences memory loss, depression and confusion, he or she puts themselves at a greater risk of encountering dangerous situations, such as:

  • Leaving the stove on while alone at home
  • Getting into car accidents or not knowing how to return home
  • Wandering in the neighborhood and getting lost
  • Losing items and personal belongings
  • Death due to injuries or suicidality

As you can see, this is a very serious mental condition which can easily impair one’s life, and there are no good preventative strategies to avoid its development. The best way to prevent the development of this disorder is to avoid contact sports, but how can you convince thousands of people worldwide to stop playing their favorite sports?

It just won’t happen anytime soon.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Coping With Memory Loss

White woman with curly hair lying on bed with hands on face surrounded by photos and white camera

When Your Mind Goes Blank

Memory is one of the most fascinating features of the human mind. It allows us to relive past experiences via thoughts and fantasies. Memories are the gateway to our past; without them, we would never be able to recall life as it was previously experienced. Memory is precious and must be preserved for as long as possible.

Therefore, memory preservation should be on everyone’s agenda. Every living person has experienced memory lapses at some point in their lives. There doesn’t always have to be something wrong with your mind in order for you to experience the loss of memory; sometimes it just naturally happens.

But certain people are definitely more vulnerable to experiencing memory loss. For instance, drug addicts and alcoholics are at risk for worsening memory! Marijuana and other drugs affect the hippocampus adversely, resulting in the loss of short-term memory. Illicit drugs also alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, making it more difficult to recall memories. Anyone who has smoked marijuana for a while can attest to the fact that their memory and concentration improve upon discontinuation of the drug!

Alcohol adversely affects memory as well. Patients who develop Korsakoff’s syndrome experience a symptom called confabulation. This involves making up stories, events and scenarios in order to fill in for the memory gaps secondary to alcohol damage of the mammillary bodies. The mammillary bodies are responsible for recollective memory.

Your lifestyle also plays a big role in the maintenance of your memory in the long-term. Living a life that involves unhealthy eating, consumption of drugs and alcohol, little to no exercise and poor stimulation of your mind, can cause you to experience premature memory loss.

Lastly, genetics play a role in a lot of peoples’ lives in regards to the development of a mental illness. Mental conditions such as major depression, schizophrenia, substance use disorder and dementia are just some of the illnesses which impact memory adversely. When one is depressed, he or she experiences less drive and interest in recollecting events of the past.

People with schizophrenia actually have hippocampal volume loss, resulting in worsening memory and cognitive function. Cognitive remediation is a form of therapy provided for schizophrenics who experience cognitive dysfunction. And people with dementia experience severe and progress memory loss secondary to continual neuronal loss.

As you can see, there are many reasons why someone may experience memory loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure to combat the culprit genes that are responsible for the mental illnesses which bring upon memory loss. But one can always help slow down, cope with or prevent memory loss by maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle:

  • Consistently eating healthy (i.e.: low fats, low carbs, high protein)
  • Consistently getting a good night’s sleep (i.e.: 8-10 hours per night)
  • Consistently stimulating your mind by reading, writing, playing chess or brain games
  • Consistently exercising (i.e.: exercise helps oxygenate the brain)
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol or marijuana use
  • Avoiding hard drugs
  • Avoiding cigarettes and vaping
  • Consistently getting involved in social activities (i.e.: socializing helps to maintain a sound state of mind)
  • Avoiding risky sexual behavior which increases your chances of acquiring an STD that can infect your brain (i.e.: syphilis, herpes, HIV)

. . . and the list goes on.

Good memory is an awesome brain tool to maintain! Don’t lose it.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Fast Food Once In A While

Selective focus photography of big burger with knife into it on brown wooden tray

There Is No Such Thing As Perfection

Maintaining a healthy eating habit can be quite challenging, especially if you love eating just about anything under the sun. The key is to implement discipline, maintain your motivation and determination and to avoid any shortcuts. But there is no such thing as perfection, when it comes to eating food.

You can have one of the healthiest diets in the world and still be overweight, due to your sloth-like nature. Without exercising, healthy food can still lead you to become overweight. Therefore, you need to apply both strategies in order to remain fit and maintain a healthy weight: exercise at least 2-3 times a week and eat healthy food on a consistent basis.

However, fast food once in a while is okay too! Most health freaks would argue that fast food should be avoided at all costs; even an ounce of that White Castle Original Slider is the end of it all! While it’s true that fast food is not healthy, once in a while, it is healthy in another type of way: your mental wellbeing.

Wait . . . you’re probably a little confused on what you just read: “fast food once in a while, is good for my mental wellbeing?” That is correct. You see, as much as you want to lead a perfect life by eating healthy as much as possible and exercising habitually, you need to also appreciate diversity in your life, even if it presents in different shapes and forms.

By eating some fast food here and there, you become human again by putting aside all of that stress and pressure to maintain perfection. Guess who are the type of people who most of the time, end up developing anorexia nervosa? They’re actually perfectionistic girls with type A personality features!

Perfection is good to strive for, but it can sometimes drive you into the ground! That’s why it’s very important, that from time to time, you step out of your daily routine and reward yourself with something different; even if it’s not that healthy for you! In the case of eating, that may include pleasuring yourself with some tasty fast food!

Life is definitely about being smart, healthy and fit. But if you sacrifice your happiness and pleasure, then what kind of life are you even living?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Exercise Alone Won’t Help You Lose Weight

Bowl on wooden table filled with colorful mixed fruits

The Weight Loss We All Crave

We all naively believe from the media that if we suddenly start hitting the gym or the hills, our weight will start to decrease over time. Until we realize after many weeks or months of decent workout routines, that our weight has not budged; or has not declined as much as we were hoping it would.

To achieve weight loss, an entire new mindset has to be adopted in order for the results to be observed. You have to be determined and believe that you will lose weight in the long run; not the short run. Many people don’t last as long as it takes to see weight loss results, because they lose hope prematurely.

Hope should only be lost if you are genetically predisposed to being obese and have tried your hardest to lose weight. But even then, hope should actually never be lost! Because lost hope opens the doors to mental illness: say goodbye to happiness and hello to depression!

In addition to a right mindset and legitimate exercise routines, you have to ditch the unhealthy food and start eating right! If you’re addicted to fast food, well guess what? You’re going to have to shed that addiction and make Whole Foods your new addiction! Bad food simply will not get you where you want to be.

Another mistake that people make is indulging in fast food mixed with healthy food, as if the healthy food would bring any benefit when junk is still being consumed! It’s like how we’re taught in the bible, “you can’t worship both good and evil.” How in the world do you expect to lose weight when you’re still sneaking in those quarter pounders?

Do yourself a favor and stop trying to find shortcuts in life. The DSM Ready Movement does not advocate for shortcuts. We are in this together to promote and lead a healthy lifestyle and state of mind!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sleep Hygiene

Pretty young brunette woman sleeping on green tropical leaves during daytime

Sleeping More Efficiently

It’s not about sleeping more or less. Sleeping too much takes away time from potentially important activities which you can be doing. Sleeping too little contributes to fatigue and decreased work performance. You have to discover the happy medium where you are getting just the right amount of sleep.

Sleep hygiene is a concept based on the fact that one needs to avoid certain behaviors in order to fall into a good sleep. Inconsistent bedtimes contribute to poor sleep because your brain is not being allowed to adjust to one particular hour of falling asleep. The same applies with inconsistent wakeup times.

Besides no electronics in the bedroom, soda or alcohol prior to bedtime and no intensive exercising a few hours before going to sleep, you also need to listen to your mind and body! Many of us don’t listen to our tired mind because we are too preoccupied with staying up and getting more done.

Especially adolescents; they have a difficult time listening to their mind because they are distracted by video games, texting, calling or watching Netflix. What they are essentially doing is ignoring their mind’s request for proper sleep. This results in less efficient sleep and feeling more tired during the day.

The reason we are so hesitant on getting a proper night’s rest is because many of us find sleep to be boring. We’d rather be up accomplishing something. The fighting spirit is great to have but not when it impacts your physical and mental well-being. Do not forget the basics; they always come first!

Learn to be efficient during the day and while you sleep. You become efficient during your sleep by adopting a proper sleep hygiene and listening to your mind when it’s telling you that it’s tired. Sometimes you just have to drop what it is that you are doing and go to sleep.

It will pay off the next day with a bright smile on your mind’s face!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)