Busyness & Your Brain: It’s Good For You!
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The brain is a muscle that must be used on a constant basis to keep it functioning at a high level. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Brain plasticity refers the brain’s ability to change at any age. Whether we’re young or old, our most prized possession next to our heart can be shaped and molded by constantly learning new things, performing more than routine activities and staying busy. If you’re a rolling stone who gathers no moss, chances are your brain is operating at a high level.
A recent study done on middle-aged older Americans showed an increase in cognitive functions like brain processing speeds, reasoning and vocabulary amongst people who check their planners 24/7 like they check Facebook. Participants in this study also showed enhancements in episodic memory (remembering events from the past).
The first part of the study measured participant’s busy levels with a survey about their day-to day actives such as, “How often have you missed meals because of your schedule? How often do you not get everything done on your checklist for the day?”
The second part of the study evaluated each participant’s brain functions with a series of tests performed in various settings such as a lab and their home.
The results of the tests showed a strong correlation between busyness and brain cognition. There is a strong belief that as you get older your brain slows, but the test didn’t show too much difference in brain functioning among busy younger people and their busy elders.
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Despite all of the ripe benefits of being busy, the test also pointed out that stress comes with being busy. Stress plays an important factor on the cognition of the brain. Stress releases cortisol, the hormone that helps us cope with life threatening situations. This stress agent binds to the receptors inside of the neurons causing it to release more calcium in the membrane. However when you’re super stressed, too much calcium in the membrane causes the neurons to become overly saturated, thus causing them to die. When this happens it also causes our digestive and immune systems to temporarily shut down, affects our sleep and relationships with other people. Chronic stress has the ability to keep us in a constant state of “fight or flight. ”
Yet, the benefits of staying busy far outweigh the potential stress that comes with it. A high functioning brain helps to stave off neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are 5 tips to help keep the brain sharp while keeping stress low:
It’s a must that you maintain a balanced diet with nutritious fruits and vegetable and foods low in saturated and trans fats. When you eat better you feel better. Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all have the ability to impair our brain’s ability to function at the highest level. If you’re a drinker, limit yourself to one drink a day.