Millions of children across the planet are enjoying their final weeks and days of summer break. Some of these children probably continued their academic habits by reading and attending different types of camps to stimulate their brains. My guess is the vast majority of children had “fun” meaning the academic part of their life has been tabled for the past two months.
Adjusting to the upcoming school year is never easy, regardless of age. With the remaining weeks left before school starts children might be wise to take 30 minutes a day to read and prepare for subjects that they have difficulty. There are some great workbooks at the local bookstores and your local school can most likely provide some worksheets to practice.
Lifestyle changes also need to begin including going to bed at earlier times in anticipation of having to rise quite early for the school day. Getting up earlier in the morning can help avoid the abrupt change from sleeping in to getting up four or more hours earlier that the school year demands.
Finally, children can think and talk about the good things they experience at school such as reuniting with friends and maybe a new pair of sneakers or a new outfit they can wear. The more school can be viewed as a positive the better the transition will be. It is always nice to hear a child say “I am excited to go back to school.”
- To reduce unhealthy stress levels, take up yoga, meditate, laugh, exercise, or care for a pet.
- The easiest way to challenge your brain is to choose a “word of the day” and then work the word into a conversation. Improving vocabulary is a great way to challenge your brain daily.
- Ten minutes of focusing on the positive and visualizing the future each day can change the way you look at life, opening your mind to new possibilities.
- Take advantage of your natural learning booster by believing something is important. If we try to learn without feeling interested, very little of that information will be saved in our memories. When we tell ourselves that what we’re learning is important, our brains join in, triggering our learning circuits.
- Try making a list of ten things you are thankful for – just doing this daily can make a big difference in your everyday attitude and help manage stress. There is a definite connection between healthy living and having a positive outlook on life.
Click here for more tips to encourage a Healthy Brain Lifestyle…
Dr. Nussbaum has used this blog to articulate his five part brain health lifestyle for all to consider. These five components include Mental Stimulation (e.g. brain games), Physical Activity, Socialization, Spirituality, and Nutrition. Research has provided specific activities and behaviors that fall into one or more of the five components of the lifestyle. The critical thing for readers is to review their own lifestyle currently and try to incorporate the research based activities into a proactive approach to brain health.
Spirituality is a broad term that I use to refer to turning inward, slowing down, and introspecting. This process of slowing down may be important to brain health as research indicates animal brains stop developing when exposed to environments that are too stimulating. Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are notorious for a fast-paced life with multitasking and stress production. While this type of lifestyle may be necessary at times, it also has its consequences, particularly on health.
Dr. Nussbaum supports 30 minutes a day to slow down, turn inward, and to simply turn off the environmental input. This might actually include turning your phone, ipod, and other communication device off! Research indicates slowing down can reduce stress which may then have positive effects on both the heart and the brain.
Daily prayer enhances the immune system, attending a formal place of worship relates to a longer and happier life, and U.S. physicians indicate prayer is important to the overall wellbeing to their patients. Meditation and relaxation procedures have also been shown to relate to positive health outcomes. These and other ways of simply slowing down are both advised and necessary.
Have a great night sleep!
One of the five major factors in Dr. Nussbaum’s Brain Health Lifestyle is physical activity. Research has demonstrated a relationship between walking daily and aerobic exercise three times a week and reduction in the risk of dementia. This stems in large part to the fact that every heart beat distributes 25% of the blood output and nutrition directly to the brain!
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, 2007, 298) found the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure. We know that blood pressure; particularly hypertension and obesity are two risk factors for dementia.
Perhaps you can begin your New Year with a couple simple resolutions:
- Increase your daily physical activity through daily walks and, or aerobic exercise three times weekly.
- Purchase a pedometer for yourself and for two loved ones in your life circle. This little, inexpensive tool will remind you to walk and give you immediate feedback on your daily steps. 10,000 steps daily is a good number to live by.
You are on your way to better brain health through increased physical activity.