by Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW
Right now I’m reading and loving John Medina’s book, Brain Rules. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist (no I don’t know what the heck that means, either) who teaches bioengineering (ditto) at the UW.
Here’s what I do know: It’s a GREAT BOOK. Full of interesting anecdotes, case examples and simple action steps you and I can take to enhance our little two pound miracle. This guy is one of those rare folks who can break down crunchy impenetrable science into fascinating story telling.
- Human beings evolved to solve problems while moving. Our ancestors roamed nine to twelve miles a day on foot. The first brain rule is EXERCISE. I’ve blogged repeatedly about the importance of exercise for mental health and how it reduces depression, anxiety and boosts serotonin levels, but Medina has this great, simple point: exercise boosts oxygenation of the brain by boosting circulation, so it literally makes our brains work better.
- We don’t pay attention to boring things. Unfortunately much of what we have to accomplish in a given day is less than scintillating. Personally I have never found a kitchen of dirty dishes or a pile of laundry all that interesting. My work-around is to put on good music or a TED talk while I clean.
- Repeat to remember. If information is not emotionally charged we are likely to forget it (see above). The reason why I wander into the grocery store to get milk peanut butter and wander out with twenty items not including those very things is that milk and peanut butter don’t emotionally engage me (that or I’ve got early Alzheimer’s). If you want to remember something, repeat it to yourself.
- We are incapable of multi-tasking. so let’s all put that cell phone away while driving!
This one is not related to Medina’s book but I’ll include it here in the spirit of mental health tips and tricks:
- Wake up fifteen minutes earlier than you need to. Most of us have our morning routines ground down to a fine slice of time: we know exactly how long it takes us to get ourselves and our kids ready, breakfast made, lunches packed, and we wake up in just enough time to do these things . Like taking out the maximum debt-to-income allotment, functioning in this “barely enough” manner creates anxiety. Wake up just fifteen minutes early to begin your day with some space and calm.
- Much of what we think we know about the brain is…wrong (brightfutures4me.wordpress.com)
- Inspiration: Paolo Cardini’s Case for Monotasking (alexrister1.wordpress.com)
- Brain Rules: The Ultimate Guide To Brain Rules Ideas in Education (educationinnovation.typepad.com)