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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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