Question by Isobel Martinez:
In the chapter about managing stress and building resilience, the sharpbrains guide talks about things like aerobic exercise, meditation and biofeedback-based training games. Where should a 46-year-old HR executive start? I’m interested in myself and also in what to potentially bring to the organization.
Answer by Dr. Andrew Newberg:
Well, certainly all three are ways of helping the brain. You should probably work towards outlining a program in which you work towards incorporating all three approaches. This could include evaluating your own schedule to determine the best time for you to do each of these. For example, if you like to exercise in the morning, and have the time, then that might be a good starting point — doing an exercise program (walking, running, training, etc) for 30 minutes in the morning at least 3–4 times per week. Meditation is something that can be done at any time. Maybe you have time in the middle of the day or before bed. And meditation practices can be relatively short (i.e. 5 minutes) or longer (30–60 minutes). But I would start with something short and easy to accomplish so that you feel that you are able to do it. Then you can start adding in the brain exercises. Again, I think the important thing is to set a definite schedule so you can be sure to follow it and really work towards creating a program that you can follow and accomplish. Then you can slowly tweak or increase what you are doing as you move into the program. You might even try to blend some things — for example, try a walking meditation for 20 minutes. For the organization, a similar approach would make sense, making sure people have the time to incorporate some walking during lunch or brief meditations throughout the day.