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6 Ways to Reboot Your Brain in 2021

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2021 is going to be a good year for many of us. Millions will receive the vaccine. Others will learn the prophylactic and curative power of Ivermectin in combating covid (see recent data here). God has provided proven science-backed ways for us to stay healthy. Cindy is an example. Cindy cleans …
By Seth Barnes

2021 is going to be a good year for many of us. Millions will receive the vaccine. Others will learn the prophylactic and curative power of Ivermectin in combating covid (see recent data here). God has provided proven science-backed ways for us to stay healthy.

Cindy is an example. Cindy cleans our office. She has battled her weight for a long time. And I knew that she had been winning lately, having lost a lot of weight. Yesterday I noticed that she looked so much thinner.

She’s very open about it all, so I asked her, “Cindy, how much weight have you lost?” 

“125 pounds!” She announced proudly.

“Wow, that’s fantastic!”

“Yes, just another 30 pounds to go!” She declared.

Cindy is proof that we can make dramatic progress in areas where we have struggled. Where have you struggled? I believe God wants you to win too. When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” that begins with our bodies – establishing the rule and reign of God there. And to begin winning, we must first win the battle of the brain. We have to change our minds just a little bit.

So, why not take some small initial steps in this new year?

Here are six evidenced-based ways to change our brains for the better according to Medical Express. You already know them, but you may not have seen the data backing them. I try to practice all six and struggle most with the sixth. Medical Express has done a fantastic job of compiling the latest data.

1. Be kind and helpful

Kindness, altruism and empathy can affect the brain. One study showed that making a charitable donation activated the brain’s reward system in a similar way to actually receiving money. This also applies to helping others who have been wronged.

Volunteering can also give a sense of meaning in life, promoting happiness, health and wellbeing. Older adults who volunteer regularly also exhibit greater life satisfaction and reduced depression and anxiety. In short, making others happy is a great way to make yourself happy.

2. Exercise

Exercise has been linked with both better physical and mental health, including improved cardiovascular health and reduced depression. In childhood, exercise is associated with better school performance, while it promotes better cognition and job performance in young adults. In older adults, exercise maintains cognitive performance and provides resilience against neurodegenerative disorders, such as dementia.

What’s more, studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of fitness have increased brain volume, which is associated with better cognitive performance in older adults. People who exercise also live longer. One of the very best things that you can do to reboot your brain is in fact to go out and get some fresh air during a brisk walk, run or cycling session. Do make sure to pick something you actually enjoy to ensure you keep doing it though.

3. Eat well

Nutrition can substantially influence the development and health of brain structure and function. It provides the proper building blocks for the brain to create and maintain connections, which is critical for improved cognition and academic performance. Previous evidence has shown that long-term lack of nutrients can lead to structural and functional damage to the brain, while a good quality diet is related to larger brain volume.

One study of 20,000 participants from the UK-Biobank showed that a higher intake of cereal was associated with the long-term beneficial effects of increased volume of grey matter (a key component of the central nervous system), which is linked to improved cognition. However, diets rich in sugar, saturated fats or calories can damage neural function. They can also reduce the brain’s ability to make new neural connections, which negatively affects cognition.

Therefore, whatever your age, remember to eat a well-balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables and cereal.

4. Keep socially connected

Loneliness and social isolation is prevalent across all ages, genders and cultures – further elevated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Robust scientific evidence has indicated that social isolation is detrimental to physical, cognitive and mental health.

One recent study showed that there were negative effects of COVID-19 isolation on emotional cognition, but that this effect was smaller in those that stayed connected with others during lockdown. Developing social connections and alleviating loneliness is also associated with decreased risk of mortality as well as a range of illnesses.

Therefore, loneliness and social isolation are increasingly recognized as critical public health issues, which require effective interventions. And social interaction is associated with positive feelings and increased activation in the brain’s reward system.

In 2021, be sure to keep up with family and friends, but also expand your horizons and make some new connections.

5. Learn something new

The brain changes during critical periods of development, but is also a lifelong process. Novel experiences, such as learning new skills, can modify both brain function and the underlying brain structure. For example juggling has been shown to increase white matter (tissue composed of nerve fibers) structures in the brain associated with visuo-motor performance.

Similarly, musicians have been shown to have increased grey matter in the parts of the brain that process auditory information. Learning a new language can also change the structure of the human brain.

A large review of the literature suggested that mentally stimulating leisure activities increase brain-reserve, which can instil resilience and be protective of cognitive decline in older adults—be it chess or cognitive games.

6. Sleep properly

Sleep is an essential component of human life, yet many people do not understand the relationship between good brain health and the process of sleeping. During sleep, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself and removes toxic waste byproducts, which helps to maintain normal brain functioning.

Sleep is very important for transforming experiences into our long-term memory, maintaining cognitive and emotional function and reducing mental fatigue. Studies of sleep deprivation have demonstrated deficits in memory and attention as well as changes in the reward system, which often disrupts emotional functioning. Sleep also exerts a strong regulatory influence on the immune system. If you have the optimal quantity and quality of sleep, you will find that you have more energy, better wellbeing and are able to develop your creativity and thinking.

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Bottom line – if Cindy can make as much progress as she has, so can you. Often, we pray for answers to problems we’re wrestling with when God may have already provided what we needed. As you lean into health in the year ahead, consider what you have control over that you may need to change in order to live more healthily. If you have can put your finger on an area where you need help, make a plan, get some accountability and start!

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