When it comes to our daily or weekly workout, we often discount our brains as part of the program. We may focus on fitness or fat loss, and stretching and strengthening various body parts without considering the grey matter inside our skulls as requiring that level of attention.
Our brains, like other organs and tissue in our bodies, need to be exercised and trained too. Like our muscles, for example, where if we ignore them and don’t give them the stimulation they need, they become weaker and atrophy. Brains are no different, and giving it a good work out each day will strengthen it.
Thankfully, most of the things you can do for a healthy body will also work towards keeping your brain in good shape.
Exercise your body
Exercise increases blood flow, which means more oxygen and nutrients travel to the brain. It also stimulates the production of blood vessels to various parts of the brain which means it has access to more oxygen when it needs it.
Synapses are also strengthened, so like muscles in the body are trained and are quick to respond when required, so too is the brain. Decisions and reactions are clearer and quicker.
Exercise your mind
Although exercising your body does wonders for your brain, doing activities to stretch and strengthen your brain, specifically, is just as important.
Whether this is doing puzzles, brain challenges or problems solving is up to you. The important thing is to keep challenging your bran and mind. You don’t have to do formal brain training activities, just reading books, writing, and testing your mind one way or another will benefit.
The idea is to push your brain past the point of comfort, and try different things that it’s unfamiliar with. Even trying a new recipe, or reading a book genre you’ve not done before can challenge your mind.
Eating well serves a number of purposes. If you put good fuel into your body, it will reduce the risk of diseases, but it will also help your body and brain. Blood will flow more easily, and that blood will also contain more of the nutrients your brain needs.
If you think about it, your brain can only use the fuels that you feed it. If those fuels are nutrient poor, it doesn’t have a lot to work with. On the other hand, if the fuel is full of good stuff, then performance will be improved.
BJ Fogg says “Frequency of success matters more than the size of success.” The more often you can be successful, the more the brain becomes predisposed to it. When you take the time to acknowledge all the small wins throughout the day, the brain stores the information away and helps recreate the thought processes and actions you used to get the wins whenever a new challenge arises.
Get out and build your social networks. Not only does your brain find stimulation in the interaction with others, it strengthens the related pathways in the brain leading to smoother social behavior. Humans have a need to belong in their groups, clinging to the feeling of safety and comfort that it brings. When we feel safe, the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking and problem solving, is able to work at full function, and that’s when we produce some of our best results.
A strong brain will help you to make decisions more easily, provide clarity, and help you to deal with stressful situations. Connections inside your brain become stronger, your nerves fire off more quickly, and just like a well-tuned body, you’ll be ready for just about anything.
Looking at keeping your brain in good shape –
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For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.
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