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The One New Year’s Resolution To Help You Keep All Your New Year’s Resolutions

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You enjoyed the shop­ping and hol­i­day sea­son. Great!

You care­ful­ly select­ed one or sev­er­al New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions. Excel­lent!

Now it’s time to shift gears from res­o­lu­tions to plans and realities…and there’s one thing you may have over­looked.

Dr. San­dra Bond Chap­man, Founder and Chief Direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las, puts it best: “Our health starts and ends with brain health.”

Our health starts and ends with brain health.”

In oth­er words, do you real­ly believe you’ll be able to lose weight, and to main­tain that weight loss, if you are con­stant­ly stressed out, or depressed?

Or that you will be able to get a bet­ter job if you don’t keep your atten­tion, learn­ing and deci­sion-mak­ing skills in top shape?

So, let me sug­gest this.

The One, And Brainy, New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion To Help You Keep All Your New Year’s Resolutions…is to Pay As Much Atten­tion To Your Brain As You Do To The Rest Of Your Body.

Every morn­ing, when you see your face and body in the mir­ror, say a few kind words to your brain too. “Hi mate, I’ll take good care of you today.”

Just say­ing those words, every morn­ing, should make a dif­fer­ence. Why not try? Requires zero dol­lars, and just a few sec­onds.

Lit­tle by lit­tle, you will prob­a­bly want to go beyond words. You prob­a­bly have been read­ing a lot  about brain health and neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty but, just in case, let’s take a look at some good lifestyle options we can all fol­low to main­tain, and improve, our sharp brains.

Per­haps they will inspire you to make 2017 a year of Brain Health!

1. 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.

2. 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.”

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. OK, remem­ber that the brain is part of the body. Things that exer­cise your body can also help sharp­en your brain: car­dio­vas­cu­lar exer­cise enhances the cre­ation of new neu­rons (neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis), at any age!

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

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 neigh­bor’s.

9. Devel­op and main­tain stim­u­lat­ing friend­ships. We need social inter­ac­tion for resilience and mutu­al sup­port.

10. Laugh. Often. Espe­cial­ly to com­plex humor, full of twists and sur­pris­es, help­ing keep things in per­spec­tive.

As you can see, there are many things we can do…but it all starts with aware­ness and inten­tion.

Every morn­ing, when you see your face and body in the mir­ror, please say a few kind words to your brain. “Hi mate, I’ll take good care of you today.”

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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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