I am your brain and this is my story. I am not feeling as relaxed as I used to for a long time now, and you probably know that but you seem to be ignoring my voice. I am much more active – and more likely to tire – than any other muscle or organ in your body.
I am simply the bossiest part of the body: I tell virtually every other part of your body what to do, all the time, whether you’re aware of it or not. I control what you think and feel, how you learn and remember, and the way you move. I also control things you might not think about — like the beating of your heart and whether you feel sleepy or awake.
Every brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. But the kind of stress you sometimes put me through is just accelerating our aging process. I need to be kept relaxed yet stimulated and positive. Then only can you and I stay young, active and productive. I want to stay young for long. And I know it pretty well, you wish the same.
I remember you attending an awareness workshop at your workplace where Capt. Dr. Asif Iqbal Ahmed, PsyCare said, “You’re creating a brain that’s either resilient or very vulnerable to mental disease, based on the patterning of white matter you get early in life,”. I keep reminding you of such facts. You’re welcome.
You keep reading that modern lifestyle produces chronic stress which shows up as all kinds of mental and physical health problems. Did you know that chronically stressing out can actually kill your brain cells? You know this, don’t you?
Proper brain function is the key to a healthy life. So today I am taking some time out to help you understand what I need from you.
- Get mental stimulation. Any mentally stimulating activity helps to build me up. Read, take courses, try “mental gymnastics,” such as word puzzles or math problems. Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting and other crafts.
- Get physical exercise. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, fights diabetes, and reduces mental stress, all of which can help me as well as your heart.
- Improve your diet. Good nutrition can help me, your mind, as well as your body.
- Avoid tobacco. Avoid tobacco in all its forms.
- Build social networks. Strong social ties have been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancies. I remember a study published in a book you read recently, Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, which said we needed a variety of brain stimulation, including social activity, to keep our minds sharp.
- Keep stress in check. Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over time, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones. Studies have also linked stress to memory loss.
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep is not only essential for regenerating your physical body, but also helps me to “reset” and look at problems from a different perspective, which is crucial to creativity. I do not shut off when you are asleep. There is a lot of work going on while you sleep and much of it involves consolidating the learning that took place during the day.
Remember you and I are going to stay together for a lifetime. You don’t want to lose me (pun intended), do you!