ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Brain-Intensive Tasks and a Good Environment Are Therapeutic

Jack Bragen
Friday March 15, 2019 - 02:26:00 PM

One of the many things that can better the condition and outlook of mentally ill people, and can ease depression, is to have brain intensive activity on a regular basis.

Reading books would be one example. Reading intense books or technical books is a rung higher on the ladder. Getting involved in complex, organized tasks that engage the mind and body such as some jobs in technology, or some classes in adult schools or colleges, would be yet another example.

You don't have to become a rocket scientist and you don't have to be on the "cutting edge" of science or technology. Just being engaged in a stimulating, and at the same time, constructive environment, will help the brain develop. When you develop the brain through "mental exercise" it may alleviate some of the "negative symptoms" of some mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. 

Brain intensive activity doesn't fix everything. Yet, it is a way of improving the brain, by causing neurons to form new connections with other neurons. 

Living in a good environment, (and there are numerous factors to this) helps one's condition and one's outlook. The term, "Use it or lose it," applies to numerous things in life. 

Exercising the mind is akin to bodybuilding. In bodybuilding the muscles are enlarged and strengthened through a regimen of physical exercises. When you put the mind to task through mental activity, you strengthen the mind. Mental activity isn't limited to academic-type work. Social interactions use other parts of the brain that aren’t used in reading, writing and thinking. Working with your hands uses yet another area of brain capacity. Any activity that is organized uses the brain's capacities and strengthens the brain. 


Absence of abuse is very important to your well-being. You should not be abusive to people, and you should not have to receive abuse. 

Environment is never going to be perfect. But one hopes that your environment isn't overfilled with stressors, has some fun things, and engages the body and mind. 

Some amount of stress is healthy. Being overly sensitive to stress could be addressed with medication or could be addressed with some forms of meditation. Sometimes too much avoidance of discomfort is counterproductive. 

Everyone has to deal with hard and demanding situations at times in our lives. If life was always easy, we wouldn't really be alive. Compared to a few generations ago, most Americans have it easy, materially speaking and in terms of health. Advances in technology, the availability for most people of enough food, and the wealth that most people are calling "middle class" cause most people to have very high standards for what is acceptable. 

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way, and in the not so distant future many people could be looking at bleak prospects, because of what we're doing to the atmosphere, and because of deterioration in societal structures. If you can acclimate yourself to a level of stress that you can handle, this may serve you in the coming years. 

As it stands, mentally ill people often do not live in good environments or under good living conditions. If we are institutionalized, including outpatient institutionalization, we do not have much power over our external circumstances. We may not be able to get away from disturbances, whether this is noise, someone getting into a conflict nearby, lack of privacy, or incessant, bad television. We may also be subject to supervision, and this isn't always necessary. 

In order to establish a better environment, sometimes it seems as though a miracle must happen. However, if we are at liberty some of the time to live in a peaceful situation, and during that time, exercise our faculties, it will help improve brain condition. 

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