Neuroscience in the Global Village
By 2030, mental illness had so plagued the Global Village that the regard for Clinical Psychologists and Psychotherapists was the lowest of any medical profession. Murder, Suicide, Clinical Depression, wars and genocide threatened the entire planet. Global issues like climate change, pandemics, and drought were seen as affecting only individual nations, not the entire planet. Any attempts to resolve these problems on a global scale were met with suspicion and tribalism. Many nations turned to mind control drugs to fight the growing mental decay and depravity. But this only provided temporary relief, and initiated drug dependencies that often exacerbated addiction to those drugs. Finally, in desperation, Residents looked to neuroscience for answers.
Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions.
Psychology is the study of behavior and the mental processes which lead to behavior — thoughts, feelings and desires. Psychology observes these behaviors and processes indirectly. Neuroscience delves deeper into the human mind, observing biological and chemical processes in the brain and nervous system.
Neuroscience has traditionally been classed as a subdivision of biology. By 2030, however, it became an interdisciplinary science which liaises closely with other disciplines, such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, and medicine. Armed with these strategic disciplines, Residents sought evidence-based solutions to global social problems under the domain of social neuroscience.
Social neuroscience — this interdisciplinary field is dedicated to understanding how biological systems, especially human beings, implement social processes and behaviors. Social neuroscience gathers biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social behavior. It uses social and behavioral concepts and data to refine neural organization and function theories.
Cultural neuroscience — looks at how beliefs, practices and cultural values are shaped by and shape the brain, minds and genes over different periods.
Cognitive neuroscience — the study of higher cognitive functions that exist in humans, and their underlying neural bases. Cognitive neuroscience draws from linguistics, neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science. Cognitive neuroscientists can take two broad directions; behavioral/experimental or computational/modeling, the aim being to understand the nature of cognition from a neural point of view.
Neuroscience methodology is a multi-modal approach to treatment that uncovers the root cause of human issues or challenges that are not discovered by traditional psychiatry. Neuroscientists look at the brain within the context of daily life. This context includes biological, psychological, social, and spiritual influences.
This comprehensive approach to mental health has shown that psychiatric conditions are not single or simple disorders. They all have multiple types, so the same treatment plan won’t work for everybody, and it could make symptoms worse. For this reason, Residents of the Global Village created a database, with over two billion brain scans, used to identify various types of ADD, anxiety, depression, and many other mental health conditions afflicting life in the Global Village. Armed with this data, Global Village neuroscientists compiled a guide designed to halt the mental illness pandemic and restore sanity.
The practice of mental hygiene was something that can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life — and it doesn’t really cost anything. By adopting the five simple strategies, Residents were able to shift to new habits that improved their overall well-being.
1. Have a regular morning routine.
Starting each morning in a similar way can help you feel more grounded and focused as you prepare for the day ahead. Some people may find that sipping a cup of tea while reading or listening to the birds sing can help them feel centered. Others may spend 15 minutes in meditation, going for a walk, or doing some yoga. Whatever it is that helps you feel calmer and more mindful, rather than rattled and rushed, is good for your mental hygiene.
2. Disinfect your thoughts.
If your mind is filled with ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) that run rampant, it’s likely making you feel miserable, stressed, anxious, or depressed. Unfortunately, ANTs are very common — especially as social and political discord continue to abound, the COVID-19 pandemic still looms, and the nightly news seems to be filled with one tragedy after another. All of these can trigger the emotional centers in our brain, making those ANTs feel difficult to control.
The good news is that you can get the upper hand with them by learning to challenge the ANTs that are infecting your mind. Here’s how:
For each ANT you have, write it down and answer the following questions about it:
- Is it true?
- Is it absolutely true — with 100% certainty?
- How do you feel when you have this thought?
- How would you feel if you didn’t have this thought?
Then, flip the ANT you started with to its opposite and see if this new thought isn’t actually truer — and more accurate — than the ANT is.
Whenever you catch yourself ruminating on an upsetting thought, take a few minutes to challenge it. With practice, your thinking will become more realistic and improve your emotional health.
3. Fit in time for physical activity.
The many benefits of exercise for your mental and physical health can’t be overstated. Not only does it help with your fitness, but it also promotes the growth of new brain cells and increases the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, as well as endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones. Physical activity can induce calmness and clarity, which elevate your mental hygiene. Exercising doesn’t have to be a chore — choose a variety of activities you enjoy. Better yet, get an exercise buddy to make it more fun. Even if you can only squeeze in 10–15 minutes at a time, it is still worth the effort.
4. Make good decisions about what you eat.
“Food is medicine, or it is poison.” Everything you drink or put on the end of your fork can help you feel energized and focused, or end up making you irritable, tired, and foggy-headed. A healthy balanced diet includes lots of fresh produce, clean protein, healthy fats, such as the ones from avocado and coconut, and foods like walnuts, salmon, and flax seeds that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Starting your day off with a boost of protein, whether it’s a brain-healthy smoothie, eggs, or almond flour pancakes can provide you with the energy and focus needed to achieve your goals. Sugar, processed foods, and alcohol do not support your mental or physical health, so steer clear of these. To help you make better decisions about food and beverages, every time you plan to consume something, ask yourself, “Is this good for my brain, or bad for it?”
5. Prioritize your sleep.
When you don’t get adequate amounts of sleep, it affects the health of your brain and body beyond feeling cranky and tired. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety, make you prone to cravings, addiction, and brain fog, cause weight gain, and elevate the risk for type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
One reason for this is that while you sleep, your brain undergoes a critical process during which it eliminates toxins and waste that are normal byproducts of cellular function. These mechanisms help to keep your brain healthy, which is a vital component of good mental hygiene.
Making the necessary changes to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night supports your mental and physical health and will help you think more clearly, manage your thoughts, make better decisions, and give you the energy necessary to accomplish what you need to do.
These guidelines can help you get the zzzzzz’s you need:
- Avoid anything that interferes with your sleep, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Even though a drink might help you feel drowsy, alcohol decreases the stages of sleep that are the most restful.
- Create a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time every morning.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. A white noise machine can help eliminate distracting sounds.
- Turn off your devices and the TV at least an hour before you hit the hay. The blue light they emit can keep you more alert when your brain should be winding down.
- Supplements like melatonin and magnesium can promote better sleep.
- If you snore or stop breathing while asleep, have your doctor order a sleep study to assess for sleep apnea, a condition that deprives your brain cells of oxygen.
When you have a better brain, you have a better life — a better career, better relationships, and better moods. That’s just the way it is in the Global Village.