I don’t know about you, but this time of year I feel like my brain is about to explode!
On top of the normal working week, cooking, cleaning, shuttling the kids and squeezing in a bit of exercise, there is a frenzy of end-of-year school, work and social events. There are plans to sort out for xmas, plans for entertaining the kids for 6 weeks over summer and Christmas shopping. And there’s our significant-milestone wedding anniversary just a few days after New Year……!
It’s during these hectic periods that we especially need to call on ways to nurture our overburdened brains back to health. So, it was timely that I recently attended a conference and heard Dr Sarah McKay, of the Neuroscience Academy, share the daily habits we can adopt for optimum brain health. I’d love to share these tips with you because when our brains are healthy, we boost our creativity and performance in our work and our lives. Our wellbeing lifts and we move towards flourishing!
These rescue remedies are in order of importance and are supported by rigorous scientific research.
- Sleep. The number one bedrock of good health! Sleep deprivation impacts our thinking, mood and learning. As well, an afternoon nap of 20 minutes has been proven to strengthen memory and boost creativity.
- Move. The best exercise for our brains is physical exercise and it’s also a potent antidepressant, regulating mood. We’ll do our best thinking when out walking, so grab your child, husband, friend or dog and go!
- Nourish. A healthy brain requires a healthy body. Research points towards a Mediterranean diet of fruit, vegies, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, fish and some meat. Good news….wine and coffee in moderation prevent memory loss!
- Calm. Try and reduce stress levels – the stress hormone cortisol affects our learning and memory. What works for you? – yoga, reading a book, cooking up a storm or just chilling out? Importantly, seek out pleasurable experiences to boost positive emotions.
- Connect. Having close relationships is a fundamental human need and helps us live longer happier and healthier. They also reduce the effects of stress. Connection with nature is also beneficial – so try and find a way to do this daily - soak up the sun, picnic in the garden, stare at the ocean.
- Challenge. Keeping our brains mentally active protects ourselves against mental health issues and brain related diseases such as dementia. If your work doesn’t challenge you, then do a daily crossword or learn a new skill.
- Believe. People who seek meaning from serving a cause bigger than ourselves are not only happier but are healthier and live longer. Dream big, set lofty goals and pursue them!
When you get some well-deserved time out over the holiday season, think about how you might incorporate some of these remedies on a daily or regular basis to nurture your brain and support your wellbeing into the New Year and beyond.
With love, from Flourishing Mothers.
Inspired by the work of Dr Sarah McKay.