Just like that weekly yoga sesh I swore I’d commit to, I can’t remember the last time I thought about my brain health.
I’m not the only one: 85 per cent of Aussies know that things like brain training are important, but only 16 per cent dedicate time to mind-boosting activities each day, according to a survey by natural healthcare brand Flordis. What’s more, only 25 per cent of women feel like they tap into the full potential of their thinkers at least once a day.
With all this in, erm, mind (and having just turned 30) I accepted Flordis’ invitation to see my brain in action. The aim? To better appreciate how awesome and complex it is, but that it needs working out just like the rest of me.
That’s how I found myself with a high-tech headset tangled in my hair, staring at a computer screen and smiling on command. The experience: spending time in an Emotive Epoc EEG headset, which picks up subtle electrical signals created by activity in my brain. A software program then reads this live data and turns it into an ever-shifting piece of art.
Think: different colours and shapes based on my mental and emotional state. Energy and bright pinks when the tech guy asks me to think about something exciting (an upcoming holiday) followed by sunshine-yellow when I’m asked to smile. Thinking about my to-do list? A more hectic scene (deadlines…), which then mellow and turns into light blue when I move into a calmer state. In short, it’s frickin’ cool.
So, what can I do to keep my beautiful mind ticking over? Get ready for a brain workout…
1. Maintain regular sleep patterns – alternating between minimal kip and marathon snooze sessions can impact on concentration and creativity.
2. Add Marmite: a spoonful a day can boost a vital neuronal chemical. Vegemite totally counts, too.
3. Doodle. Research shows that drawing while you listen to an instruction improves memory as it keeps the brain stimulated.
4. Learn new things – like a language – to keep your mind sharp and efficient.
5. Actively learn by writing (taking notes, highlighting), speaking (asking questions, explaining things) and creating your own meaning (making up your own reminders).
6. Listen to your favourite songs to activate areas in your brain responsible for memory. Research shows learning can be improved by absorbing info through both visual and auditory channels.
7. Three to five cups of coffee a day has been shown to reduce cognitive decline by 65 per cent – caffeine affects us all differently though, so balance that with how much feels good for you.
8. Eat more fruits, nuts and vegies, which are positively associated with cognitive ability. Regular exercise is also important so sweat to it, mates.