Take charge of your brain health
Every day you take dozens of small steps to keep your body healthy: drinking water to stay hydrated, eating a balanced diet, exercising, brushing your teeth, taking the medications your doctor prescribes, getting enough sleep, etc. One their own, each of these mini moves has a tiny impact. Together, they lead to big results—and a longer, healthier life.
Brain health is no different. “The way we use our brains, day-to-day, matters, and the habits that we form in the way we use our brains matters,” says Jennifer Zientz, MS, head of clinical services with the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas. Daily lifestyle and diet tweaks, can, over time, help ward off cognitive decline, boost creativity, and keep conditions like depression at bay. And, says Zientz, “you’re never too young or too old to get started.”
No more multitasking
If you’re reading this while streaming a TV show and writing a note to your partner, you might want to stop. Contrary to popular belief, people are less efficient—not more—when they multitask. Your brain can only do one thing at a time, says Zientz. “When you multitask, you force it to bounce back and forth, which causes a great deal of stress on the brain.” Cortisol levels rise, and too much of the hormone is toxic to neural function.
Plus, “you never fully complete anything, and completion and sense of accomplishment provides a dopamine reward,” says Zientz. (Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to feelings of. “Multitasking has also been linked to atrophy in the hippocampus, the memory and learning center of your brain.”
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Certain types of games could give you—and your kids—a mental boost. Gamers who played the physics-based puzzle game Cut the Rope improved concentration, task-switching skills, and adapting to new situations more than those who played other types of video games, according to a study from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Researchers suggest complex brainteasers, which involve planning and readjusting strategies, might help improve memory. These brain games will help to improve your mood.