Establish new relationships and nurture your existing relationships. As you get older, it can be difficult to maintain old friendships and find new people to connect with. But staying social can add up to three years to the average lifespan. Plus, with more quality relationships, you’ll find it easier to deal with stress and loneliness. Find a group that meets regularly to make sure you get out of the house, or look for opportunities to volunteer at a local nonprofit that you care about.
I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Bryan Bruno. Dr. Bruno is the founder and Medical Director at Mid City TMS in New York City. A long-time resident of New York, Dr. Bruno is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Bruno has more than 20 years of clinical experience diagnosing and treating patients with psychiatric disorders including Major Depression.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Dr. Bruno! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I am a Psychiatrist who specializes in treatment refractory Depression. I have always been interested in helping those people with depression with novel treatment strategies such as TMS (transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) who have tried and failed other forms of treatment.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the success rate of TMS, with over 70 % of the hundreds of patients since 2008 I have treated with TMS getting substantially better.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
All of the patients I have treated have taught me how best to help others with compassion and expertise.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
There are many sources of burnout, and many of them depend on an individual’s workplace and predispositions. However, one of the leading causes of burnout is when things start to pile up. When tasks begin to accumulate, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Our brains are like computers in this respect. If you run too many programs at the same time, eventually your computer won’t be able to handle everything.
To avoid this source of burnout, you have to stay organized. It sounds simple, but clearing off your workspace at the end of each day and keeping your email inbox tidy can have a profound effect. Reorganizing can allow your brain to “reboot” and help you to regain your bearings and take on tasks with a fresh perspective. By helping you break apart your work into more manageable chunks, you’ll feel like your work is easier to handle.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I recommend encouraging others to continue to enhance their skills by ongoing education and training.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Keep your brain stimulated. Every day, take time to read, do a crossword puzzle, or find another way to challenge yourself intellectually. Problem-solving will help form new connections between brain cells and sharpen your mind
- Eat a balanced diet. Staying healthy is important for your mind and your body. Your brain needs a variety of vitamins and nutrients to work its best. Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals, and avoid overindulging. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and magnesium are directly linked to positive mental health. Avoid processed foods and added sugars. And make sure you stay hydrated.
- Take a break if you’re feeling stressed. Stress can affect the body in many negative ways, so find strategies to avoid it. Give yourself time to relax and recover, especially after periods of high activity or high stress.
- Get plenty of sleep. The brain and body restores itself during a good night’s rest, ultimately helping you feel better. Adults should aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. To improve your sleep, avoid using electronic devices in bed, and try to go to sleep around the same time each night.
- Creativity. Flexing your creative muscles is a proven way to improve your self-esteem and relieve stress. Creativity can take many forms — as long as you’re giving your brain opportunities to think in new ways. Allot time to hobbies you enjoy, or get creative in the kitchen. Decreased stress is great for your long-term health, as stress has been shown to shorten one’s lifespan.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
As we age, our brain chemistry changes. There is decreased communication between neurons, and deposits from fat and other materials can cause the brain to work differently. While for most people, the brain adapts easily to these differences, there are ways we can resist negative changes over time.
- Stay active. Exercise delivers oxygen to the brain and improves general brain function. And when your heart rate rises from exercise, your brain produces endorphins that can make you happier, improve your ability to sleep, and also reduce stress. While exercise might not be the same for retirees as people in their 20s and 30s, walking regularly and staying active can help prevent deterioration in parts of the brain that are vital to memory, learning, and emotions.
- Establish new relationships and nurture your existing relationships. As you get older, it can be difficult to maintain old friendships and find new people to connect with. But staying social can add up to three years to the average lifespan. Plus, with more quality relationships, you’ll find it easier to deal with stress and loneliness. Find a group that meets regularly to make sure you get out of the house, or look for opportunities to volunteer at a local nonprofit that you care about.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
While regular exercise is important for people of all ages, it’s especially crucial for teenagers. The surge of endorphins from physical activity has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and provide necessary structure that is helpful for young adults. Exercise can also increase discipline, boost confidence, and contribute to body positivity.
I also recommend that teenagers and their parents be proactive with mental health and see a medical professional with any specific concerns. Recognizing any issues as early as possible is a key factor in treatment.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Clinical Applications for Psychiatric Practice written by Richard Bermudes, MD is an excellent overview of TMS, including best practices and guidelines.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would encourage others to learn more about TMS so that more people suffering with Depression could get better.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?