BETTER BRAIN HEALTH & CLEARER THINKING
Why clearer thinking is always the start to better brain health
IF your head sometimes feels as if it is stuffed with cotton wool, rediscover that better brain health and clearer thinking are very closely related. ‘I just can’t think’, is the new catch-cry when our capacity to manage all those competing thoughts has reached critical mass and the brain’s pressure release valve kicks in, shutting down access to the prefrontal cortex and your ability to think well.
STUFF THE TURKEY, NOT YOUR BRAIN.
Too much input stifles thinking, blurring the lines between what’s important and what’s not. We’re not designed to operate 24/7 and when running on empty it’s harder to find the motivation to get to the gym, to cook a meal from scratch or even to go to bed earlier.
It’s a paradox that our brain’s response to the burden of our mental load is the loss of those lifestyle choices that would help the most.
IT’S A FILTER FAILURE AND ENERGY PROBLEM.
Recent research has revealed our memory capacity to be x10 greater than previously thought; the equivalent of one petabyte, the same as the World Wide Web. Storage is not an issue.
All this cerebral activity requires a lot of energy and our brain consumes a disproportionate 20% of all the body’s energy input, with conscious thought using a whopping 80% of our mental juice.
TUNE IN TO WHAT MATTERS FOR BETTER BRAIN HEALTH AND CLEARER THINKING.
Better brain health provides the foundation to smarter thinking by elevating an awareness of how our brain can work against us and to evaluate which of those non-negotiables i.e. sleep, exercise, nutrition and stress management require your most urgent attention. Better brain health and clearer thinking is vital, so here are five changes to adopt:
1. Your daily appointment with you.
Taking 10-15 minutes out of your busy day to press pause and determine your top three priorities helps to alleviate the stress of, ‘it’s all too much’.
Before bed write down what needs to be done tomorrow before you go to sleep, to enable your subconscious to start sorting those items overnight. You’ll sleep better and be better prepared for your day.
2. Give your brain a break.
Scheduling in short breaks across your day provides the perfect mental recharge. That’s the time to stop thinking, grab a cuppa, go for a walk or meander off for a little daydream.
When really tired, a 20-minute powernap after lunch is the perfect cognitive
refresher, improving your ability to stay alert and attentive. Even if you only doze, the benefits are the same. Sleep is a must to consolidate memory, improve recall, regulate emotion and keeps the brain clean.
3. Tune out regularly.
Working too hard and staying on-line for too long is detrimental to mood, productivity and your ability to switch off. Try a digital detox to reduce stress and cortisol levels and elevate your mood and overall happiness.
Be mindful to what is happening around you without the burden of future planning or worrying about the past using a mindfulness meditation practice or three slow breaths to induce a feeling of calm, confidence and wellbeing.
4. Recharge your renewable energy resources.
Exercise is the primer for higher mental performance. Whatever your preference, it’s time to move more and boost your attention, mood and memory.
5. Better brain health & clearer thinking through food choices.
We are what we eat which is why choosing healthy options as found in the Mediterranean diet provides the cognitive stamina to power you through your day. A more reliable memory and getting more out of your life begins with clearer thinking and better brain health, because your cognition depends on how well you think, learn and remember.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a Medical Practitioner and specialises in the science of high performance thinking. Jenny’s approach to overcoming life’s challenges is based on practical neuroscience which enables people to understand their thoughts and actions leading to effective behavioural change. Jenny is the author of ‘Future Brain - the 12 Keys to Create Your High-Performance Brain’ and may be contacted via her website.