As we crawl towards the finish line of this unforgettable year, most of us are fatigued, and many of us are close to burnout.
While we know that prioritising our mental health and getting the right help is key (a great therapist might just change your life), cultivating a healthy brain is often overlooked.
In reality, our brains not only require regular maintenance like the rest of us, but they also need additional support when adapting to new environments. And let’s face it, COVID is the big change agent in all our lives.
You wouldn’t attempt to run a marathon without undertaking the necessary training, so why expect your focus, performance and strategic thinking to prosper while holed-up in your ill-equipped workspace, complete with life’s distractions?
The excellent news is that neuroplasticity proves that the human brain can be trained and rehabilitated throughout our lives.
Through stepping away from our usual routines, our neural pathways can adapt; learning a new language does this, too. Meanwhile, regular exercise is linked to an increase in the volume of the hippocampus — the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. Exercise can have a dramatic antidepressant effect and, in these challenging times, ‘runner’s high’ might just give you the productivity boost you’re looking for.
While I can’t possibly cover the wide range of solutions that are at your fingertips in this short article, what I can do is motivate you to prioritise sorting out your sleep, nutrition, fitness and hobbies for better brain health.
Here are three simple things you can do today to get yourself mentally fit(er):
1). Get brain-training daily through puzzle-solving and using gamifying apps like Peak, which work to enhance your memory, concentration, mental agility and problem-solving skills. Like all habits, you need to build this into your schedule. Start with five minutes of play each day at lunchtime.
2) Our brains require a ton of different nutrients to operate, including 5+ servings of nuts a week, 5+ different coloured fruits and vegetables every day, and 5x berries each week. It’s hardly surprising then that 99% of us simply aren’t giving our brains what they need. A great way to combat this is to incorporate supplements into our diets — I like to use Heights myself. Well, if the ever-so erudite Stephen Fry is a fan, so am I.
3) With all that time spent at home you might start to feel bored, but only boring people are bored. Expand your horizons by committing to listening to a new podcast each week, and read books that are outside your usual area of interest. Learn a new skill, or even sign up to a course with Open University.
Sophie is a leading voice in mental and physical wellbeing. Coaching at every level, she provides expert advice to organisations on how to build a more mindful workplace. Offering practical solutions to modern day struggles, Sophie is here to create the change so many of us are searching for. Visit www.getapeptalk.com to book your company in for some well needed mindfulness in 2021.