We buy equipment for our homes or spend money to have memberships at local gyms to stay physically fit. Yet, what has one done to exercise the brain and increase the longevity of our cognitive power? After all, it is just as important as the rest of the body. This is the question I have been asking myself a lot lately. I started to do a little research and came across the book Make Your Brain Smarter by Sandra Bond Chapman. She starts with how the frontal lobe, which houses our cognitive thinking, works and why mental complex thinking stems from this region of the brain.  One of the most profound things I learned is that there is no time limit on brain repair. Now that is a game changer!

Dr. Chapman indicated we must do three things. She called them the ABCs of Brain Health.

A = awareness of personal brain performance strengths and vulnerabilities

B = benchmark of cognitive brain function as the starting point of a cognitive fitness plan

C = Conditioning to conscientiously engage in complex and personally motivating mental challenges that draw upon the vast frontal lobe networks

We have goals for everything else in our life, why not have goals and benchmarks for our brain. So sit down and make a plan for yourself. I know I am. One of the biggest lesson I have learned in respect to the ABCs is this. It’s not about how much stuff we can memorize but how can me interpret and foster new ideas with everyday facts. Which brings me to the author’s next point, “know when and what to regard versus when and what to disregard.”

Now there are somethings that I am really going to have to work on as a millennial girl living in a digital word. When my email dings, phone rings, and text message sing ( Mariah Carey’s beautiful voice), that does not mean I should answer immediately. “It robs you of clear strategic insightful thinking….depleting productivity,” says Chapman. I must admit it usually takes me a few minutes to tap back into my though process after I have an interruption. Then there are times I just completely forget and I try to go sit in the same place I was thinking about that thought, hoping it will come back to me.  But it is more important to finish that thought, task, or come to a hard stop in your project before calling someone or responding to a new email.

Chapman states that, “One key way to revolutionize the way you learn, energize you imagination, and ignite a deeper level of thinking is to be more strategic about how much info you take in at one time and how much effort you spend blocking out distracting info.” Which leads me to the next habit I need to hack, multitasking. Why work on two things to only make them mediocre when you can accomplish one think that can be extraordinary? When we give something our undivided attention we tend to put pour our very best into it.  Have you ever notices that your best thoughts come late at night or early in the morning. I have surely had those moments. So much so that I keep a note pad and pen on my night stand.  “Big Ideas often come when the brain stops frantically trying to solve the issue at hand” says Chapman and “connections are built when brain activation slows, and even our brain is at rest.”

The one thing I wish I had heard earlier in my career is this: “Take time to rest your brain when: Brain fatigue, Info Overload, Major decision without clear direction, a dead end to an issue, frustration and negativity” says Chapman. I experienced some burn out in one of my previous position because I never stopped. I thought about work even when I was home and I just did not know how to shut it off. My thoughts were not fluent and I had a hard time concentrating. I started feeling overwhelmed all the time and I wondered if something was wrong with me. What I really needed was to slow down and rethink how I approached my job and my way of thinking and problems solving. It doesn’t matter what your age is. You have the power to take control of your brain health today. I encourage and challenge you to do just that.

I only touched on a few things but Dr. Chapman has much more to say in her book Make Your Brain Smarter. Happy Reading!