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Ten Suggestions for Brain-friendly New Year’s Resolutions

neuroplasticity-brain—–

You are enjoy­ing the shop­ping and hol­i­day sea­son. Great!

Now it’s time to start shift­ing gears and focus on the year ahead…

Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can all fol­low to main­tain, and improve, our sharp brains. Per­haps they will inspire some New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions to help make 2017 a year of Brain Health!

1. Thrive on Learn­ing. The point of hav­ing a brain is to learn and to adapt to chal­leng­ing new envi­ron­ments. Once new neu­rons appear in your brain, where they migrate 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, and often, with nov­el activ­i­ties”… for exam­ple, here you have quite a col­lec­tion of brain teasers and games for adults of every age.

2. Remem­ber that the brain is part of the body. Things that exer­cise your body can also help sharp­en your brain: phys­i­cal exer­cise enhances neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, at any age!

3. Learn more about 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.

4. Take care of your nutri­tion. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but con­sumesgood brain food 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.”

5. Prac­tice pos­i­tive, action-ori­ent­ed thoughts until they become your default mind­set and you look for­ward to cre­at­ing some­thing mind­ful and beau­ti­ful every new day. Too much stress and anxiety–induced by exter­nal events or by your own thoughts–can kill neu­rons and pre­vent the cre­ation of new ones. physical exercise for brain health

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. Once you become too com­fort­able in one job, find a new one. The brain keeps devel­op­ing ALWAYS, reflect­ing 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 your own mis­takes. 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’ or all those edu­ca­tion­al apps have been shown not to be the panacea for chil­dren devel­op­ment.

10. Laugh. Often. Espe­cial­ly to cog­ni­tive­ly com­plex humor, full of twists and sur­pris­es. 

SharpBrainsGuide_3DNow, 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. Please revis­it the sug­ges­tion above that real­ly grabbed your atten­tion, and make a New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion to try some­thing new in 2017.

–> To learn more about what you can do, check out The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: How to Opti­mize Brain Health and Per­for­mance at Any Age.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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