Healthy brain habits
The human brain is an astonishing organ capable of great feats of memory but susceptible to damage. It is remarkably adaptable to change. The scientists claim that the average human brain is three times the size of what it should be in relation to our body size. Human beings have a much larger brains than animals as compared to the size of our bodies.
All don’t have exactly the same size of brain. Some have larger and some have smaller. Many of us wonder if the brain size may be linked with intelligence or some disabilities. According to one large-scale study by Michael McDaniel of Virginia Commonwealth University, bigger brains were correlated with higher intelligence. But many experts do not agree with the conclusions. So, more research is needed on this issue. An important observation has been made that elderly adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have smaller hippocampus. This area of the brain is strongly associated with memory.
Like any other habit, it requires motivation to develop a brain healthy habit. A very large part of our life is dictated by the commands of the sub-conscious mind. It implies that our life runs on an auto-pilot to a large extent. To develop a new habit, we can harness the power of the unconscious mind, whereby the brain creates new neural pathways. It takes about 6 weeks to 3 months to create such neural pathways. When we develop the neural pathways of the new habit, we no longer need will power and motivation.
Since our brain is remarkably adaptable to change, our lifestyle will influence its health to a large extent. The following are some habits which are good for brain health.
- Being social—People who stay connected with others have higher levels of intelligence and wisdom than those who are more isolated. So, join a new club or make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Social networking sites like Facebook are good means to connect with far-flung people.
- Being open-minded—We should keep our mind open to the views and perspectives of others without being judgmental. We should empathize with others if they are different in any way. There is a lot we can learn from others at any time if we are open-minded.
- Accept the mistakes readily-- The Roman philosopher Cicero said, “Any man is liable to err; only a fool persists in error.” So, let us be bold enough to accept our mistakes readily. Feeling guilty about the mistakes of the past robs us of the happiness, which is a key factor in the promotion of brain health.
- Read books and newspapers—Read books on various topics and subjects which will enhance your knowledge and learn other’s viewpoints. Current news will keep us updated in knowledge and there is a lot to learn from them.
- Tap into self-knowledge—There are so many events and circumstances in the life of everyone, which teach us many invaluable lessons. Let us reflect on them sometime and implement the teachings of those lessons.
- Get fit—Aerobic exercise has been found to reduce brain cell loss in elderly persons. The duration doesn’t matter so long as one is actively exercising regularly.
- Feed the brain—Diet specifically low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein can reduce the risk of developing dementia. Vegetables and fruits promote excellent brain health because of anti-oxidants, vitamins and nutrients provided by them. Also are recommended nuts and cold water fish for omega-3 fatty acids contained in them.
- Let the brain work—Studies show that lower level of education lead to higher level of Alzheimer’s disease due to less mental stimulation. Take time to get lost in a book; do a crossword puzzle. What about scrabble?
- Re-wire brain into positivity—Positive emotions are like fuel for the brain – mental efficiency goes up, focus and alertness strengthens and innovation sparks. Positive people communicate better, feel energized and make better decisions. We can train ourselves to be more aware of what is worth appreciating in our lives. Consciously cultivating more positive emotions re-fuels us and improves mental health.
- Challenge the brain-- If we challenge the brain by learning a new skill or a language, we will enhance its health. We can do this by solving puzzles and quizzes. Such challenges create new neurones and strengthen the existing neuronal connections.
- Practice regular meditation—Researchers have found that regular mindfulness meditation is linked with an increase in the brains signaling connections, called axonal density as well as the protective tissue that surrounds the brain’s axons. Research has also shown that regular meditation has a positive effect on the brain by decreasing the density of the grey matter in brain’s amygdala, which is a brain region known for its role in stress. So, regular meditation reduces stress, anxiety depression, anger and fatigue, and increases alertness.
- Quit smoking-- Smoking is quite harmful for brain health so we must kick this habit as quickly as possible. It accelerates the process of atherosclerosis and, therefore, blocks the adequate blood supply to the brain.
- Avoid overwork-- According to a study, the people who working longer than 55 hours per week adversely affect their vocabulary, cognition and memory. So, it is advisable not to burn the candle at both ends during the week.
- Have a good sleep-- Long term deprivation from sleep causes neurones to malfunction, diminish mental performance and accelerates the death of brain cells. So, do your best to have 7 to 8 hours of good sleep.
It has been found that the people, who partook in unhealthy habits, faced greater than twofold risk of memory loss and nearly threefold increased chance of poor brain function. One of the scariest things about getting older is the prospect of a decline in mental functioning. So, by adopting the above brain healthy habits, we can prevent or reduce the decline in mental functioning which occurs with age.