Make Thanksgiving Brain-Healthy!

November 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

A Brain Healthy Thanksgiving: Turkey by David Lat on Stock.Xchng Far from the Norman Rockwell ideal, many of my Thanksgiving memories are of days that alternated between stress and mind-numbing boredom.  High expectations, exposure to family that didn’t get along, and  Great Aunt Gertrude’s stories of when you were a baby are enough to make just about anyone brain-dead.  And as I’ve gotten older, it’s only gotten worse; now it’s MY stories of “when you were a baby” that threaten to put me to sleep!

So I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns (or the turkey by the breasts bone) and put together a few tips to take Thanksgiving from brain-dead to brain-fit!  No, paying attention to brain fitness on this one day won’t change your life, but it might help you to be a little sharper – and if you turn it into part of the ritual, it can introduce others (Like Great Aunt Gertrude) to the benefits of brain fitness.

Sound interesting? Read on!

1.  Focus On Brain-Healthy Foods

Many traditional holiday ingredients are surprisingly good for the brain.  Squash, cranberries, even those walnuts, pecans, almonds and raisins  that get added to dressing and bean casseroles? All very good for the brain.  Try to keep the overly sugared foods to a minimum, but indulging in a glass of red wine or an extra cup of coffee can be beneficial.

2.  Don’t Skimp On Sleep

It’s tempting to make extra cooking, cleaning or travel time by cutting back on sleep, but sleep deprivation has both immediate and long term effects on cognitive function.  If you can’t avoid waking up too early, get a couple of cat-naps in during the day, and refresh your mind.

3.  Keep The Mind Engaged

Bring along something to keep non-football fans challenged and engaged –  puzzles, crossword books, family games like charades, or even a brain fitness system, if you have one.  Maybe walk the family through some neurobic exercises, like walking backwards, standing on one foot and tracing the alphabet on the floor with the other, or putting the silverware on the wrong side of the plate, and encouraging everyone to hold their fork with the wrong hand.

4. Go For A Walk

Exercise is crucial for brain health, and nothing seems to wake up a numb (or overfed!) mind like a brisk walk in the fall air.   So if you feel your thoughts starting to fall flat, take a 15 minute break from stuffing that turkey, and get yourself moving.  Drag along a family member or two, if you can, and explain the brain benefits!

5. Reduce Stress

I know, this is a tall order.   Uncle Frank is yelling at the kids, your mom is tsk-tsking at your disorganized pantry, and the biscuits just burnt to a crisp.  But all that stress isn’t good for the brain.  So take a deep breath, call a time out, and go meditate in the corner for just five minutes.   Accept that things don’t need to be perfect, and tell mom that she’s killing her brain cells fretting over your pantry!

5. Take That After-Turkey Nap, Guilt Free!

Since you almost certainly ignored item #2, and didn’t get enough sleep…  go ahead and curl up on the couch after dinner, and take a nap. Even NASA recommends napping to help refresh the brains of their astronauts.  Throw the kids outside, turn down the football games, and indulge in a bit of a communal snore-fest.   You’ll wake up sharper, more tolerant, and maybe ready for that next round of charades.  Or left over walnut-cranberry dressing.

Entry filed under: 7 keys. Tags: , , , .

Moderate Drinking: Maybe Not So Good For Your Brain, After All Gobble Up That Cranberry Sauce! (It’s GREAT for the Brain)

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About This Blog

A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness



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