This is your Brain on Holidays

10 Tips to Keep your Brain in Top Shape over the Holidays

TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Tis' the season to be …hard on your brain.

This time of year, your brain gets too much of what it doesn't need (like stress) and not enough of what it does (like sleep).

Here's a guide to giving your brain the holiday it deserves, so it's fitter than ever for the new year.

  1. Get active; stay active. Lots of us 'take a break' from our usual exercise during the holidays. We just get too busy. Or we resolve to wait until the new year to start exercising. But the best time to exercise is all the time, and the best time to start is now. Why? Studies show that people who are more active perform better with their brains. Exercise also reduces the risk of dementias like Alzheimer's.

  2. Sleep more. Do you burn the holiday candle at both ends? Get to bed early instead. Rest and sleep are proven to lower stress and anxiety; and they're vital to storing memories and helping you function normally.

  3. Challenge your brain. It's tempting to give your brain a rest when you're holidaying.  In fact, you want to activate your brain cells with mental challenges. If you're an avid reader, why not try painting? Or, if you're a Pictionary champ, have a go at Scrabble. And speaking of which…

  4. Do new things. Novelty isn't just the spice of life, it keeps your brain young. So what better time to start doing new things than during the season of old traditions?

  5. Go ahead and have that glass of red wine. A glass of red wine may be beneficial in many ways - but drinking in excess not only affects physical functioning, it can also negatively affect the brain.  

  6. Don't overeat - and balance your meals. If there's ever a time of year when we have permission to eat too much - and to eat the wrong things - it's now.  Don't! Your brain is a hungry organ that needs lots of nutrients.

  7. Make new friends; renew old ones. We're social beings, and the stronger our networks of family and friends, the stronger we tend to be - and the longer we tend to live. So even if you just want to pull up the covers and hope for the holidays to be over - now's the time of year to do just the opposite and reach out.

  8. Brush up on your French by singing holiday songs in our other official language (or any other second language, for that matter). People who have and use a second language have lower rates of dementia, including Alzheimer's.

  9. If you're skating or skiing, wear a helmet. Getting out on the ice or the slopes is a national obsession this time of year. Be sure to wear appropriate protection to minimize the risk of an injury.  

So why no "Tip 10"?

Because one of the great stressors of the holidays is feeling you have to compile lists and check off everything on them.

As Michelle Wilson from the Ontario Brain Institute says: "You don't. In fact, you'll enjoy more peace of mind if you keep your "must-do's" as short as possible - and just relax. Your brain will thank you next year."

SOURCE: Ontario Brain Institute

For further information:

Michelle Wilson, MSc
Communications Lead
Ontario Brain Institute
438 University Ave, Suite 1618
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K8

Office: (647) 872-1215
Mobile: (647) 525-7583
Fax: (866) 570-5818

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