By: Alvaro Fernandez
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains.
1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.
2. Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements, just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff”.
3. Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis.
4. Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.
5. Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges. The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Once new neurons appear in your brain, where they stay in your brain and how long they survive depends on how you use them. “Use It or Lose It” does not mean “do crossword puzzle number 1,234,567″. It means, “challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”.
6. We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.
7. Explore, travel. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.
8. Don’t Outsource Your Brain. Not to media personalities, not to politicians, not to your smart neighbour… Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbour’s.
9. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. We are “social animals”, and need social interaction. Which, by the way, is why ‘Baby Einstein’ has been shown not to be the panacea for children development.
10. Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises.
DRUMROLL PLEASE…# 11 COMES TO US FROM A READER NAMED, JOHN. I love the hobbies he mentions as they’re my own and they do serve to keep the mind sharp. John has a beautiful blog. I encourage you to take a look at it. The link for it is: http://realtruelove.wordpress.com/
11. Write, journal, blog (as well as draw, paint, play an instrument, learn photography). And read decent books (and poetry); give yourself some real food for thought. And when you read decent books, read slowly enough to explore–and even better, to journal–your own thoughts in relation to what you are reading. Developing and refining our own personal philosophy or “life map” is a huge part of using it and not losing it.
Now, remember that what counts is not reading this article-or any other-, but practicing a bit every day until small steps snowball into unstoppable, internalized habits…so, pick your next battle and try to start improving at least one of these 10 habits today. Revisit the habit above that really grabbed your attention, click on a link below to learn more, and make a decision to try something different today!
- Want a More Effective Brain? (writersresortllc.wordpress.com)
- Transcript: Dr. Gary Small on Enhancing Memory and the Brain (sharpbrains.com)
- Can Brain Training and Biofeedback Help Prevent Depression (sharpbrains.com)
- 10 Biggest Brain Damaging Habits (socyberty.com)
- the human brain: a slave to habit (gethardgohard.wordpress.com)
- Insight on Brain Development (enfamil.com)
- Big Brain, Little Baby (enfamil.com)
- Transcript: Alvaro Fernandez on Mental Capitalism and Non-invasive Cognitive Enhancement (sharpbrains.com)
- Transcript: Paul Nussbaum on Meditation, Neuropsychology and Thanksgiving (sharpbrains.com)
- The Ten Habits of a Sharp Brain (sharpbrains.com)
Hot Books on Brain Health:
The Brain Mechanic by Spencer Lord
Super Body, Super Brain by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace
All Books by John Assaraf
Take a Listen to John’s Latest Podcast Here on The Power of Expanding Your Awareness:
Your Brain After Chemo by Idelle Davidson
You can also check out my own book HEALTHY WITHIN at the following link. Make sure you check for Discount Codes before checkout.
MARIA DORFNER is the founder of Healthy Within Network (HWN) and NewsMD Communications, LLC.
This is her blog.
“When We Tell Stories…People Listen.”