A LITTLE APPETISER ON HOW OUR BRAIN WORKS AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT
by Andreea, expat living in Ostrava
I wish I didn’t have to write this article targeting an audience which is probably older than mid 30’s. Well, it is just that I wish we had being taught the basics of how our the brain operates in secondary school. Of course, I would add nutrition and how to deal with your own emotions into the curriculum. Coincidently enough, all these topics are very closely connected to the brain. On the other hand, it’s quite difficult to find a topic which is not connected to the brain. The best thing about the brain is that it can do its job amazingly, without us caring about the process. I can’t imagine having digestion written on my to do list everyday. Another amazing fact is that it is never too late to upgrade its functions: building up a new habit for instance. They say that one needs just 21 days just to create the baby neurons, which eventually will develop new neuropaths, which leads to new habits or any learning experience. Then extra 3 months to cement the new habit. I mean just to make the new habit more of a habit. We can reconfigure our brain at almost any age unless it had been affected by very serious trauma, or by some degenerative disease, but even in such dramatic situations, experts say that there may still be hope for recovery. Ok, it is cool to read all this stuff about neurobiology, makes you feel a little smarter. But does just reading about it actually make us smarter or happier or gives us a better focus? Not unless we apply it into our lives. We need to test it. So, I was just wondering what would happen if we embarked on a 3 months upgrade your brain journey? Let’s say we will do some serious research first (whatever that means) get more intentional about what we eat, take up meditation, develop some breathing exercise routine, mind our thoughts, experiment with sound therapy or whatever habit you may think will improve your brain focus. But before we eat those roasted walnuts, and start our cardio, let’s summarise few simple routines which can boost our brain activity. Don’t choose more than 4 at once:
- Drink a lot of water, not only before a physically demanding activity, but also before an intellectual one. I haven’t tried the sipping method, maybe I will. Requires a lot of discipline.
- Try some new experiences as often as you have the opportunity. Add new spices into your food, take a new road home, pick up a new hobby just for a little while, change your exercise routine, try some new dance moves, learn a new language, listen to a new music genre. Then try writing using your opposite hand. Or just use your opposite hand to stir in your coffee. Read a book upside down.
- Reduce or give up on sugar, avoid white flour and processed food. Make sure you get enough of Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Journal. When you have a journal in your life which will listen to all your problems, you can get your worries off your chest, so that you can detach and relax. And you will be able to focus 100% on whatever activity you need to complete.
- Observe nature closely. Watch the bugs, look at the flowers petals textures, use a magnifier to be able to see the tiniest creatures crawling, hunting for food, building up their nests. This practice is very calming, relaxing, and engaging at the same time. It develops your sense of observation, your curiosity and your intuition. And who knows, maybe in the end you realise you can actually speak ants’ language!
- Get a massage from time to time. Also self dry massage is a very efficient quick fix. I do this in the morning.
- Follow a routine. Develop a new small habit every month. Start small. What about closing the toothpaste tube?
- If you are too lazy for a proper breathing work, pick up a 10 mins breathing meditation and stick to it every day.
- Avoid multitasking, it’s no longer trendy. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence saying that our brain was actually designed to multitask. On the contrary.
- Get a cat or rent it if you can’t own one yourself. Cat’s purring does wonders on our serotonin and oxytocin levels, and improves heart pressure as well. I will write about how to get a stranger cat to purr in 5 minutes in one of the following episodes.
- Take it easy, if you get to stressed about doing all these things right, you will increase your cortisol level and I’m sure you know what happens next….