Brain health has matured to the point of being ready for introduction and implementation in the work setting and across the corporate world. Enough research exists to demonstrate the human brain is a dynamic system capable of being shaped for health across the lifespan. Dr. Nussbaum’s five factor brain health lifestyle is an approach that is easily applied to any corporate setting. CEOs and companies interested in the wellbeing of their employees should consider adding health of the brain to their wellness program!
Here are some quick tips to begin the process of implementing brain health into their corporate culture.
1. Educate the entire workforce including the leadership team on the basics of the human brain and what research tells us about how to keep your brain healthy. Consider the costs of dementia related care on your workforce and the fact that a high percentage of your workforce is concerned about their own brain health and this becomes a “no brainer” for inclusion in the company wellness program. Brain health should also be part of the orientation program for new employees.
Dr. Nussbaum is available to come to your company and speak to the leadership and workforce about brain health. It is critical to explain the why behind the what regarding brain health and a brain health lifestyle.
2. Integrate the five slices (e.g. brain fitness) of Dr. Nussbaum’s brain health lifestyle into your work culture. This can occur one step at a time with incentives for the employees to engage in the behaviors thought to promote brain health.
A. Work with the dietary staff in the cafeteria to promote brain healthy foods. This includes increases in fruits, vegetables, fish products, nuts, and juices. Reduce the trans fatty acids and fatty foods found in the vending machines
B. Encourage the employees to begin a regular exercise routine that is focused on walking and aerobic exercise. Teach the employees that each time the heart beats 25% of the blood goes directly to the brain! Every employee should be given a company pedometer to wear at work for the purpose of counting steps. We need approximately 10,000 steps daily. Begin interdepartmental competitions on number of steps taken per week or month.
C. Educate and encourage your workforce to learn how to use relaxation exercises and meditation to reduce stress. An overly stressed brain does not learn or process well and this will reduce productivity. Teach the workforce the importance of prioritizing oneself during the day and to identify what his or her major stressors are.
D. Encourage team and company socials to recreate and have fun. Socialization is an important lifestyle for brain health as it promotes mental stimulation while reducing brain passivity through isolation. Helping identify which employees are prone to loneliness and depression can also help to maximize brain function for the work setting. Socialization and opportunities for laughter and dance can help.
E. Encourage and incentivize creativity and mental stimulation (brain fitness, brain games) during the work day. Include computer stations with Fit Brains for staff to engage in daily brain exercise. Promote board game competitions, book clubs, and creative writing or story telling in the work setting.
3. Develop critical measures of outcome and after three months determine if implementation of brain health into the work setting has helped employees (1) feel better about themselves, (2) increase cognitive function, (3) promote emotional satisfaction, (4) increase physical activity, (5) reduced time off, (6) improve quality of life, (7) lower weight, reduce total cholesterol and reduce glucose, etc.
4. Begin the process of including family members in the brain health program as another benefit of working for your company.
5. Identify a core brain health team that keeps the brain health culture alive with semiannual or annual brain health events for the company and families.
This is a start for making your implementing brain health into your work culture.