Your Mind at Its Best -- 40 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp

 by Dr. David B. Biebel, Dr. James E. Dill, and Bobbie Dill, RN

Counselors will learn how to help their clients keep a healthy and active mind. The authors use evidence-based research in this book.
Specifics include helping clients:

1. Develop the practice of prayer and meditation. Brain scans show that this discipline produces a more active anterior cingulate in the brain, evidencing greater empathy and less fear and anger.

2. Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet and a regular fitness program.

3. Learn how the brain grows new neuronal pathways in response to mental challenges, and how the brain's best state of mind for discovering something new is when it is in a happy, serene moment.

4. Learn how the brain wards off depression through maintaining a proper balance of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Things that can help maintain this balance include eating Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, anti-depressant medications, and attending a depression support group.

5. Learn how behaviors become compulsive when the pleasure centers in our brains short-circuit with too much dopamine. We become hooked not so much on the activity, but on the feelings produced by the chemicals in our brains. This includes compulsive use of the Internet, sex, pornography, shopping, gambling, eating, work, and exercise.

6. Learn good uses of the Internet, such as finding good books to read, communicating with family and friends, buying almost anything at affordable prices, obtaining information about current events quickly, and playing games that sharpen one’s mind.

7. Learn how moderate exercise produces the maximum brain benefits. For most people, this would be exercising for thirty to forty-five minutes 4 to 5 times each week, at 60% of one’s maximum heart rate.

8. Learn how to eat a wide variety of whole foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and berries, helps to combat free radicals which cause degenerative diseases.

9. How the best research consists of studies with these parameters: double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized studies.

10. Learn how reading is the quicker and more effective in reducing stress than listening to music, going for a walk, or having a cup of tea.

11. Learn how to properly use medications, and to not over-medicate or self-medicate.

12. Learn how to keep both the left and right halves of one's brain active and sharp.

13. Learn how to most effectively study for an exam, including rehearsing the material over and over again, clearing away distractions to focus on the material, and making associations such as attaching visual associations to the material.

14. Learn how irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is reduced by stop smoking, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly.

15. Learn how playing games of logic, word skills, and math improves one's brain speed and memory. How video games helps improve one's pattern recognition, system thinking, patience, short-term memory, and concentration.

16. Learn how to promote positive thinking in keeping with Philippians 4:8, 9 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things…and the God of peace will be with you.”

17. Learn how joy is a settled attitude of the soul, something one can experience even in the midst of sorrow and difficulty.

18. Learn how nostalgia, or recalling pleasant memories from one’s past, can promote positive feelings, higher self-esteem, help one to feel loved and protected, boost optimism, spark inspiration, and foster creativity. It can also counteract loneliness.

19. Learn how 6 months of aerobic exercise can prevent and possibly reverse decline of our brains most important functions, those that help us focus, study, retain information, behave appropriately, memorize, plan, schedule, and multi-task. This can actually increase the volume of the prefrontal cortex of our brains.