Having social support is critical for good health.

“Having social support is critical for good health. Think of how few healthy people you know who have no social support.” Bill Chesnut, MD

Loneliness: How to Give It the Old Heave-Ho

Set Your Intentions
1. At the start of your day, sit quietly and center yourself with your breath. 
2. Choose the qualities you will live out today. For example: Being open-minded, courageous or friendly, or being a compassionate leader or team player.
3. Privately state your intention for the day. For example: “I bring the best in me to all whom I encounter and to all my efforts.” Now, imagine engaging with others and notice how it feels. 
4. Check in with yourself throughout the day; write a word or two on a sticky note to remind you of your intentions. 

How will you approach the day? Remember that what we think, we become. What we repeatedly say to ourselves becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cleveland Clinic Wellness newsletter.


Awareness and Compassion are essential daily attitudes for a good life.

“Awareness and compassion are essentials of daily living and for daily enjoying being a healthcare provider.”    Bill Chesnut, MD

Cleveland Clinic Wellness, November 21, 2015
Upgrade your stress relief! Two key qualities can help you nix habits that may add to your anxiety.
Feeling stressed? Time to turn up the A-C. No, we’re not referring to your cooling system — it’s November, after all. We’re talking about Awareness and Compassion.

Awareness: You may be attempting to relieve your stress with habits that do more harm than good. Seeing your automatic habits through a nonjudgmental, just-the-facts-ma’am lens can help you trade them in for effective stress relief. The next time you find yourself heading for the vending machine after a stressful meeting, trading exercise for Netflix, or doing whatever your personal automatic response to stress is, step back and notice. Instead of the quick fix that causes collateral damage, go for a win-win: a walk, some deep breathing, or a heart-to-heart with a close friend.

Compassion: Call it a design flaw, call it the modern world, but we’re very good at exhausting ourselves and not so good at replenishing ourselves. “We shortchange ourselves every day,” says Jennifer Hunter, LISW-S, Cleveland Clinic’s wellness director. A hearty dose of unconditional love — for yourself! — will help you shift the balance. “When you come from a place of compassion, you begin to prioritize how you’re going to keep yourself healthy and centered throughout the day.” And you won’t just feel better — you’ll get more done, too.


“Enjoy yourself” said Guy Lombardo and Doris Day.

“Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink.” Tip of the hat to Guy Lombardo, 1950.  Bill Chesnut, MD  January 14, 2016
R&R Rx! Be still this winter and enjoy some rest and reflection
In winter, when nature is dormant, you might find yourself naturally drawn to sit by the fireplace and quietly stare at the flames. Go ahead, says Jane P. Ehrman, M.Ed., Behavioral Health Specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Lifestyle Medicine. Use the stillness of the season to allow yourself some rest and reflection. Here, a few ideas for enjoying winter to the fullest:

  1. Put down the remote and the smartphone, and curl up by the fire with a good book. Research shows that reading, whether a suspense-filled thriller, a biography or self-help book, stimulates the imagination, improves mood, expands vocabulary, increases focus and concentration, reduces stress and slows memory loss.
  2. Sit and thoughtfully consider what is going well in your life. Let yourself soak in the positive feelings associated with your blessings. Gratitude elevates mood and energizes us.
  3. Begin a meditation practice. Take just five to ten minutes and sit quietly. For your meditation focus, try one of these:
    • Gaze out a window and observe the positive qualities of nature, whatever the weather.
    • Sit by the fire and experience the glow and dance of the flames, the coziness of the heat, etc.
    • Gently close your eyes and be present to your breath, heartbeat and body resting in a quiet place.

Whatever you choose, you are helping your body and mind take a break from all the analysis, judgment, worry, and planning that tends to distract us from the present moment, says Ehrman. While it may feel as though you are doing nothing, the truth is you are releasing stress and tension from your body. Enjoy the feelings of calm and peace. 


For more happiness, shift your perspective!

 “Shifting our mood during stress and illness in this busy age is powerful.  Other research shows that saying your positive words aloud will change your mood. Being kind, helpful and engaging with others is proven to improve your mood for some while.” Bill Chesnut, MD

From Cleveland Clinic Wellness, January 31, 2016

Get lucky! For less stress and more happiness, shift your perspective.
Life can be like one of those face-vase optical illusions: Do you see two faces looking at each other or the vase in between? Change your perspective and everything looks different. Seeing your life with fresh eyes and appreciating what you have, rather than what you lack or want, is a good recipe for happiness. “A friend of mine lives in a beautiful spot with a view of two lakes,” says Roxanne Sukol, MD, medical director of Cleveland Clinic Wellness. “In the window of his small cabin there’s a sign that reads, ‘If you’re lucky enough to live on the water, you’re lucky enough.’ It always gets me thinking about all the signs I might make.” Step back and think about the things in your life that you are lucky to have. A dear friend, or several? A beloved cat or dog? Warm shelter and enough food? A lilac bush in your backyard? Write your own sign, such as: “If you’re lucky enough to be able to take long walks every weekend, you’re lucky enough.” Post it in a place that you see every day, and when you look at it, let yourself feel how lucky you are.


Run for your mind, stay smart longer.

“Run for your mind, stay smart longer. We all underestimate the ability of our mind to grow especially if it has years to accumulate experience.” Bill Chesnut, MD
Think on this: Running improves learning and memory, among many other benefits.
We love how researchers keep learning more about why exercise needs to be a priority for everyone. Take the latest news about running, for example. You may already know that running has a host of health benefits: It reduces your risk of certain cancers and protects against heart disease; increases bone mass and helps slow age-related bone loss; helps prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes; adds years to your life; and improves mood, focus and clarity. Well, new research shows that running also enhances the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, resulting in improved learning and memory. Pretty impressive for an exercise that requires just a comfortable pair of sneakers and some motivation! Before you lace up your shoes and head out to log some miles, though, be sure your body is ready. If you think you may be at risk for heart disease, or if you have been having chest pains, light-headedness or shortness of breath, please be evaluated by your primary care provider or cardiologist before you hit the track.

Cleveland Clinic Wellness Newsletter, February 3, 2016.

Association of Seafood Consumption, Brain Mercury Level, and APOE ε4 Status With Brain Neuropathology in Older Adults

“About the safety of eating seafood: Seafood consumption has been a concern because of the increased levels of mercury in fish. This study shows that moderate intake of seafood may produce a decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.” 

The best way to absorb the several findings of this critical study is this YouTube video by one of the authors at Rush Medical Center in Chicago and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network. First rate research.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9MncHHHXpA  .” Bill Chesnut, MD


Martha Clare Morris, ScD1; John Brockman, PhD2; Julie A. Schneider, MD, MPH3,4,5; Yamin Wang, PhD1; David A. Bennett, MD3,4; Christy C. Tangney, PhD6; Ondine van de Rest, PhD7

JAMA. 2016;315(5):489-497. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.19451.

Importance  Seafood consumption is promoted for its many health benefits even though its contamination by mercury, a known neurotoxin, is a growing concern.

Objective  To determine whether seafood consumption is correlated with increased brain mercury levels and also whether seafood consumption or brain mercury levels are correlated with brain neuropathologies.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Cross-sectional analyses of deceased participants in the Memory and Aging Project clinical neuropathological cohort study, 2004-2013. Participants resided in Chicago retirement communities and subsidized housing. The study included 286 autopsied brains of 554 deceased participants (51.6%). The mean (SD) age at death was 89.9 (6.1) years, 67% (193) were women, and the mean (SD) educational attainment was 14.6 (2.7) years.

Exposures  Seafood intake was first measured by a food frequency questionnaire at a mean of 4.5 years before death.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Dementia-related pathologies assessed were Alzheimer disease, Lewy bodies, and the number of macroinfarcts and microinfarcts. Dietary consumption of seafood and n-3 fatty acids was annually assessed by a food frequency questionnaire in the years before death. Tissue concentrations of mercury and selenium were measured using instrumental neutron activation analyses.

Results  Among the 286 autopsied brains of 544 participants, brain mercury levels were positively correlated with the number of seafood meals consumed per week (ρ = 0.16; P = .02). In models adjusted for age, sex, education, and total energy intake, seafood consumption (≥ 1 meal[s]/week) was significantly correlated with less Alzheimer disease pathology including lower density of neuritic plaques (β = −0.69 score units [95% CI, −1.34 to −0.04]), less severe and widespread neurofibrillary tangles (β = −0.77 score units [95% CI, −1.52 to −0.02]), and lower neuropathologically defined Alzheimer disease (β = −0.53 score units [95% CI, −0.96 to −0.10]) but only among apolipoprotein E (APOE ε4) carriers. Higher intake levels of α-linolenic acid (18:3 n-3) were correlated with lower odds of cerebral macroinfarctions (odds ratio for tertiles 3 vs 1, 0.51 [95% CI, 0.27 to 0.94]). Fish oil supplementation had no statistically significant correlation with any neuropathologic marker. Higher brain concentrations of mercury were not significantly correlated with increased levels of brain neuropathology.

Conclusions and Relevance  In cross-sectional analyses, moderate seafood consumption was correlated with lesser Alzheimer disease neuropathology. Although seafood consumption was also correlated with higher brain levels of mercury, these levels were not correlated with brain neuropathology.