Yes, the brain does rule! We hear a lot about keeping our brains healthy and active to ward off disease. But did you know there are 12 simple rules that will help you survive and thrive at work, home and school? I am currently reading Brain Rules by John Medina. Those of you who know me, realize I love this kind of book. I am a bit of a nerd. I want to share with you what I am learning about our brains and simple things you can do to keep your brain in tiptop shape.
Let’s start with the first 4 rules.
Rule #1: The human brain evolved too.
We actually have three brains in our heads. The "lizard brain” or brain stem was first and its sole purpose is to keep us breathing, our heart beating, regulating sleep and wake times. On top of your brain stem is your “mammalian brain” which functions include fighting, feeding, fleeing and…well I’ll skip that for now. There are many parts to this brain that help with emotions, memories and senses. Now for the most evolved part of our brain, the “human brain” or cortex. Each region in our cortex has specialized functions for speech, vision and memory. This brain made the difference between us and animals.
Rule #2: Exercise boosts brain power.
Our brains were actually built for 12 mile walks a day. Exercise improves our thinking skills; it gets blood to our brain; diminishes are risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%. I guess it’s time to hit the gym or the sidewalk.
Rule #3: Sleep well, think well.
You don’t need to tell me twice to go to bed. I love a good night’s sleep. Turns out not sleeping hurts our attention, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, executive function and motor dexterity. We have all had some experience with loss of sleep and it’s not pretty.
Rule #4: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
Our brains were built to deal with short-term responses to stress. Unfortunately in today’s society chronic stress is a major health problem. Chronic stress releases adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline scars your blood vessels leading to heart attack or stroke. Cortisol damages cells in your hippocampus, which disturbs your ability to learn and remember. Stress affects productivity at work, home and school. Yoga anyone?
Reflect on these 4 rules and how can you make a difference in your daily life to help with your brain health. I’ll be back next month with 4 more rules. I would love anyone who wants to join me in reading this book to post your thoughts and comments on this blog.
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