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Healthy Brain in Times of Stress

Living a healthy and active life has a profound impact on the brain’s health. What we eat, how much we sleep and exercise, the quality of our social life, openness to learn new things, all have an impact on our brain and also on our ability to manage stress.

At ANFI we want to share with you some ideas on how you can look after your brain and do the best you can to manage stress using science based SEEDS factors created by Dr John Arden.

The SEEDS factors is an acronym that stands for:

    • Social support
    • Exercise
    • Education
    • Diet
    • Sleep

Social support

Having a good circle of friends and staying connected with others means keeping the social brain networks switched on and active throughout a lifetime. Social isolation and loneliness negatively affect the brain. While the reality of today is that we need to stay at home and practice social distancing, the notion of social connectedness is more important than ever. We can still maintaining the physical distance, and keep our social nervous system engaged by using a face time when calling our friends and family. Face-to-face human interaction allows us to receive and give signals of comfort and security and promotes health, growth and restoration.

Find out more about staying connected in the time of social distancing from the expert on social connectedness Dr Stephen Porges.

Exercise

When we exercise, our brain releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins that make us feel good.  Exercise also helps our brain get rid of chemicals that make us feel stressed and anxious.

Even brief exercises in the morning, such as 7 minutes workout, can energise us for a day ahead.

Education

Learning new things and being curious, can help us build our cognitive reserve. Through learning we are assisting our brain to make new connections and new pathways. 

 Why not spend this time to learn a new skill  like drawing or being creative in the kitchen even when only few ingredients are left at your disposal.

https://www.tafensw.edu.au/fee-free-short-courses   https://www.edx.org

 

Diet

Based on the food that we eat, our body will produce brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) important for the brain functioning. Those with healthy diet among other things often have a good cognitive abilities and much more stable mood. 

Challenge yourself to eat healthy meals that you prepare yourself from scratch or ask a family member to assist you in the kitchen, kids might love this.

Sleep

Healthy sleep practices are conducive to a healthy brain.  Good sleep hygiene is critical for our mental and physical health. Sleeping too little or too much is not good for the brain. Maintaining a good sleep hygiene by setting up a consistent sleep schedule essentially means going to bed at the same time every night as well as getting up at your usual time, including weekends. 

There are several free Apps available for Android and iPhone devices that can track quality of your sleep https://apps.apple.com/au/app/sleep-cycle-smart-alarm-clock/id320606217 or offer you to create your own mix of sounds to help you sleep better. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/relax-melodies-sleep-sounds-white-noise-and-fan/id314498713