Keeping It Simple - 5 ways to nurture your Noggin
Brain Health

Keeping It Simple - 5 ways to nurture your Noggin

Looking after your brain health needn’t be taxing or expensive. In fact, there are things you can do on a daily basis which will support good brain health. Here are 5 simple ways to support your brain health as of this moment and one of them involves the use of social media. Do tweet me @DrClaraR with the ways in which you’re taking positive steps to improve your brain health, it’s a great way to stay connected and I’m interested in  what steps you are taking to maintain good brain health. Drink Water Simple and free and easy to do but sometimes we forget to drink water. Drinking water is great for improving concentration and cognition.  Hydration also helps balance your mood, maintain a good mood and prevent headaches. Staying hydrated also helps manage and reduce stress. Aim to drink at least one litre of water per day if you can. Sleep Sleep plays a central role in our brain health it also plays a key role in memory. Studies have found that sleep rinses the toxins from our brain which in turn enhances our attention, creativity and ability to solve problems. We’ve blogged before on the power of a nap which can be beneficial for brain health. Chess If you’ve not watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, we highly recommend it.  It’s a colourful, stylish drama based on a book by Walter Tevis who also wrote books which went onto become hugely successful films.  This includes The Hustler, The Colour of Money and The Man Who Fell To Earth.  The Queen’s Gambit is a fictitious tale set in the US in the 1960s and it may well encourage you to get into chess, which is a good thing.  Games such as draughts or chess can improve creativity, problem solving, memory concentration and decision making. Give a Hug Many of us are missing hugging friends and family due to Covid restrictions to if you’re able to hug your partner or your pet we recommend this. Hugging lowers cortisol levels and boosts oxytocin levels and can also relieve pain. In 2010, The New York Times reported on a study that found that athletes performed better when they showed physical camaraderie such as hugging.  The study found that teams that showed the most touch-bonding were among the highest ranking and best performing. Social Media There are many pitfalls to spending too much time on social media - doomscrolling.  However, social media can help us stay connected with friends and family especiallyduring times of tighter Covid restrictions.  Whether its  WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook You Tube, Zoom, Skype, Google hang outs or FaceTime, just one of these apps can help you stay connected with the wider world. This study extols the benefits of social media and like everything else we suggest you consume and use it in a balanced way. Keep well, Dr Clara Russell
How do you describe how you feel in one word?
Brain Health

How do you describe how you feel in one word?

The language of 2020 2020 has brought into our vocabulary phrases that we would never have imagined a mere year ago. ‘Social distancing’, ‘where did you get your mask?’ “ shall we just zoom? and of course ‘in these unprecedented times’. Why feelings and emotions matter to our brain health As Marc Brackett PhD tells us in his book Permission to Feel, “Labelling emotions accurately increases self awareness and helps us to communicate emotions and therefore aids social interactions and relationships”.  Whilst there may not be a single word or phrase to sum up all that this year has brought us, there are many countries that have their own way of describing ways of living or groups of feelings that we might be aspiring to as a new year looms. Purpose Ikigai was not just a hugely successful book but is the description of the Japanese way of being that prioritises having a sense of purpose with other aspects of healthy lives Hygge describes the Danish concept of living cosily and mindfully, enjoying life’s simple pleasures International Language of everything The Positive Lexicography project, compiled by Dr Tim Lomas, looks at these international untranslatable concepts in more detail.  Our favourites include - Sisu-Finnish- describes a psychological strength that helps people deal with challenges Heimat- German- deep rooted fondness towards a place which one feels a sense of belonging  Dadirri- Australian aboriginal- a deep spiritual act of reflective and respectful listening  Currently we may be engaging in Koselig - essentially coziness and craving comfort - we can look ahead to the date next year when we can relax in Utepils ( Norwegian, a beer that is enjoyed outside on the first hot day of the year)  Perhaps we might be able to indulge in Gigil ( the irresistible urge to squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished, also known as an untranslatable word for pure joy)  Keep well, Dr Clara Russell 
Brain Health Cheat Sheet
Brain Health

Brain Health Cheat Sheet

With so much going on right now, let's get back to basics for looking after your noggin 4 Simple Ways To Look After Your Brain Changes to your body and brain are normal as we age and what we do today will impact our health in the future. There are some things we can do to help slow any decline in brain health and memory and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.  Exercise Regular exercise has many benefits, and it appears that regular physical activity benefits the brain.  Multiple research studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for 30–60 minutes exercise each week, whether that’s waling, swimming, tennis or any  other moderate aerobic activity which increases your heart rate. Eat a Mediterranean Diet Plant-based foods, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, such as olive oil are all part of a healthier diet and focuses on more fish than red meat. Research from 2018 found that eating a Mediterranean diet slows some changes in the brain that may indicate early Alzheimer’s disease. The results point to a lifestyle change that could help reduce the risk of this type of age-related dementia. Get Plenty of Quality Sleep Sleep plays a very important role in your brain health and there are some theories that sleep helps clear or rinse the brain of abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidates memories, which boosts your overall memory and brain health. Try to maintain a regular sleep pattern in terms of the amount of deep sleep you’re aiming for. Consecutive sleep gives your brain the time to consolidate and store your memories effectively.  Stay Socially and Mentally Active Your brain is similar to a muscle —  use it or you lose it. Whether it’s reading, knitting, Soduku, dancing, crocheting, playing music, painting, gardening - hobbies are important because they help us switch off and also learn new skills - both good for brian health. Social interaction helps to ward off depression and stress.Look for opportunities to connect with loved ones, friends and others, especially if you live alone. There is research that links solitary confinement to brain atrophy, so remaining socially active may have the opposite effect and strengthen the health of your brain.
Walking Your Way To Good Brain Health
Brain Health

Walking Your Way To Good Brain Health

We know that walking is good for us, can help us lose weight and generally feel good and now scientist have found it has a positive impact on the brain. Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University in 2017, found that the foot's impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that significantly modify and can increase the supply of blood to the brain, which is positive for brain health. Until recently, the blood supply to the brain (cerebral blood flow or CBF) was thought to be involuntarily regulated by the body and relatively unaffected by changes in the blood pressure caused by exercise or exertion. The NMHU research team and others previously found that the foot's impact during running caused significant impact-related retrograde (backward-flowing) waves through the arteries that sync with the heart rate and stride rate to dynamically regulate blood circulation to the brain. From the  study  "New data now strongly suggest that brain blood flow is very dynamic and depends directly on cyclic aortic pressures that interact with retrograde pressure pulses from foot impacts," the researchers wrote. "There is a continuum of hemodynamic effects on human brain blood flow within pedaling, walking and running. Speculatively, these activities may optimize brain perfusion, function, and overall sense of wellbeing during exercise." "What is surprising is that it took so long for us to finally measure these obvious hydraulic effects on cerebral blood flow," first author Ernest Greene explained. "There is an optimizing rhythm between brain blood flow and ambulating. Stride rates and their foot impacts are within the range of our normal heart rates (about 120/minute) when we are briskly moving along." For fitness guides, more information on the benefits of walking and if you’re interested in taking part in Couch to 5k and are in the UK, please visit the NHS website here. Keep well (and keep walking) Dr Clara Russell
How Fit Is Your Brain?
Brain Health

How Fit Is Your Brain?

  When it comes to our health, it's really important that we consider our brain health. Here at Noggin, we’re on a mission to ensure that brain health becomes just as important as our physical and mental health. Did you know your brain is an organ but can benefit from being thought of as a muscle? As we age its even more important that we stimulate our brain cells. There's a reason people are not considered wise in the early years of their lives. Whilst a 17-year-old football player may have muscles larger than most full-grown men will ever achieve, his brain has not yet developed to the degree a 60-year-olds has. Brain plasticity is the brain's ability to learn and grow as you age and to maximise its potential, you have to train it regularly – the same way a bodybuilder must work their muscles. Read on for three ways you can start to develop your brain health below. Play Games Challenging your mind can improve select brain skills that play a crucial role in maintaining overall brain health. Soduku, Chess, Bridge, Monopoly, Cluedo and jigsaws are all great to stimulate your brain. People who play games such as cards and board games are more likely to stay mentally sharp in later life, a study from the University of Edinburgh suggests. Meditate Meditation is a proven way to build clarity and serenity by letting go of stress. Consider trying an app like Calm or Headspace to help you get started. There are 12 science based benefits of meditation which you can read here. Get Active When you exercise, you increase your heart rate, this, in turn, increases blood flow, increasing the flow of oxygen throughout the body. It helps us release endorphins and transfer vital nutrients to muscles in the body – including the brain. Just 20 minutes of walking or light exercise can stimulate endorphins.
Can you Unworry yourself Well?
Brain Health

Can you Unworry yourself Well?

"I've been worried sick" We’ve all heard or used the term’ I was worried sick’ probably without even realising the strength of the evidence behind these seemingly glib words. Over recent years, research has shown that persistent negative emotions - such as stress and worry- can increase risk for a number of chronic diseases including asthma, cancer and heart disease  Stress versus your immune system  Since the onset of the C word, as a nation we have become increasingly focused on the importance of our immune systems. Sales of vitamins have skyrocketed as people have looked for any way they can to support themselves and the cells of their immune system in this sea of uncertainty. But is there really a connection between your immune system and stress?  A study published in 2004 looked at almost 300 studies published over the last 30 years and the results confirmed that it looks like you can really worry yourself sick. The results showed a clear association between stress and the ‘dysregulation’ of our immune system.  When your immune system gets really p**d off Dysregulation-what does that actually mean? Long term, or chronic, stress alters how your immune system functions and not in a good way. Researchers have found a further link between stress and a number of auto immune conditions (AID)  including Inflammatory Bowel Disease  and coeliac disease. An AID is where your immune system actually attacks itself and causes damage to healthy cells resulting in symptoms of a number of different conditions.  But we are in a global stress pandemic- what can we do? Well here is the good news, we can address our stress and use everyday ways to reduce the impact stress has on our minds and bodies, including on our immune system. By accepting and acknowledging that stress is part of our everyday lives we can adjust our habits accordingly. Having strategies to manage stress has never been more important than right now. The weird way our brains work under stress is that we are programmed to self sabotage- the more stressed we are the more likely we are to eat junk, drink more alcohol, exercise less and have poor sleep patterns. Which of course just adds fuel to an already burning fire.  My strategy? Keep it simple Take Time Everyday to- Switch off social media- consciously take some time off from social media, even if it is only for a short period.  Take time out to get outside every day. Layer up with a sweater, don’t let the weather be an excuse to not get some fresh air. Read - engaging your brain in something other than the news or work emails is important for your brain   Eat better- you know what I mean- whether it is drinking more water, an extra portion of veg or cutting back on the biscuits, there is usually something we can do to improve what is on our plate. Supplement - with Vitamin D, 10mcg daily for adults over 18yrs to support our immune system  Shake it off- get moving, indoors, outdoors- even just a few minutes will get those feel good endorphins going  Need more? Mindfulness practice, relaxation and CBT  has been shown to improve immune function. Yes actually improve how our the cells in our immune system do their job. A study looked at patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer and evaluated the outcomes in immune function in a group that engaged in an 8 week mindfulness based stress reduction programme versus those that did not (the control group). The women who had engaged on this 8 week programme versus this control group , showed a decrease in perceived stress, fatigue, sleep problems and depressive symptoms. On further analysis of key markers of immune function within their blood samples, researchers saw a significant improvement in beneficial markers of their immune function. Pretty impressive I think. So yes, we can unworry ourselves well, or better at least…. Keep Well  Dr Clara Russell  For more information -  https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/about-mindfulness/ https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness www.calm.com 
Ever wondered what happens to your brain when you make an estimate or a guesstimate ?
Brain Health

Ever wondered what happens to your brain when you make an estimate or a guesstimate ?

Scientists discover what happens in our brains when we make educated guesses Whether it’s at work or on a Zoom quiz, we’ve all from time to time made an educated guess and this was the basis of the research paper conducted by teams at the University of Oxford. The researchers have identified how cells in our brains work together to join up memories of separate experiences, allowing us to make educated guesses in everyday life.  By studying both human and mouse brain activity, they report that this process happens in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. The study, published in the scientific journal Cell, also reveals that brain cells can link different memories while we are resting or sleeping, a process that may be important in creativity. The research was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and Wellcome, and was carried out at the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford, by Dr Helen Barron and Dr David Dupret. Dr Barron said: "In everyday life we often infer connections or relationships between different things we see or hear. So even when we don't know the full story, we can make an educated guess by joining-the-dots. For example, I'm looking for my friend Sam. Someone tells me that Ben is in the library. I know that Sam and Ben go everywhere together, so I guess that Sam is in the library too. "Although this process is crucial to everyday life, until now, we didn't know how the cells in our brains are able to form links between separate experiences." The researchers began by pinpointing this ability to an area of the brain called the hippocampus that is already known to play a role in learning and memory.  They did this using MRI scans on people and by temporarily switching off the hippocampus in mice. To discover precisely how brain cells enable us to make educated guesses, the researchers ran a set of very similar experiments in people and mice. Human volunteers were asked to play a virtual reality game where hearing a sound, such as running water, signalled that the volunteers would also see a colourful picture appear on the wall. They would then play another game where finding the colourful pictures would help them win money.  The sound was never directly connected to winning money, yet the volunteers began to guess that the sound was linked to the prize and when they heard it, they would look for the reward. The experiment was recreated in mice by playing a sound before showing a picture made from LED lights.  Then, in a separate stage of the task, the mice could find a reward of sugar water if the lights were turned on. Like the people, the mice began connecting the sound with the reward. Dr Dupret said: "By carrying out similar experiments with both mice and people, this work shows that the process of establishing a link between separate events is common to both species. And by working with mice, it's then possible to examine what's going on in the brain of a mammal at the level of individual cells." In mouse brains, the researchers could record the activity of brain cells that individually represented sounds, lights or rewards.  As the mice began to infer that a sound was logically linked to the reward via a light, they found that the cells began to fire in that order. However, they kept monitoring the mice when they rested after completing the task and they saw that the mice's brains began jumping over the intermediate 'light' step.  The 'sound' brain cells became active with the 'reward' brain cells; joining the dots between different experiences. Dr Dupret added: "This suggests that while the mice are resting, their brains are making new links between things they have not directly experienced together”.  He added “We think it's this process that will help them make useful decisions in the future." Dr Barron said: "Our results suggest the process is very similar in people and that has important implications.  It suggests that periods of rest and sleep play an important role in creativity, where we draw insight from previous experience to come up with original ideas." Dr Simon Fisher, Programme Manager for the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board at the MRC, added: "Our ability to put individual memories together to form new links helps us make day-to-day decisions. This study provides insight into how and where in the brain this key process takes place. It also suggests that while we are sleeping or resting, our brains are actively making these links, a process that may form the basis of creative thinking. "This strong approach, of working with mice alongside comparable experiments with people, allows findings from one species to inform studies in the other and enhances the translation of biological knowledge from animal models through to humans. This article previously appeared on Science Daily .
How Your Breath Controls Your Mood and Attention
Brain Health

How Your Breath Controls Your Mood and Attention

New research explores the important relationship between the pace and intentionality of your breathing, and the brain networks involved in mood, attention, and body awareness. We are in the midst of a global pandemic so it’s no wonder that many of us are under constant  stress and one of the easiest and profound ways to reduce stress is by focussing on your breath. Conversely, shallow breathing when we are stressed also makes us more stressed when instead of using our diaphragm, and telling our parasympathetic nervous system that we’re safe—we breathe quick, shallow breaths high up in our chests, which can signal to our body that we are in danger and make us feel stressed, anxious or worse - both. So to combat this: slow down, and pay attention to your breath. Meditation, yoga, and other stress-reducing therapies teach us that focusing on the timing and pace of our breath can have positive effects on our body and our brain.  A 2018 study in the Journal of Neurophysiology may support this, revealing that several brain regions linked to emotion, attention, and body awareness are activated when we pay attention to our breath. The benefits of deep breathing include : • Decreases stress • It helps you relax, lowering the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body. • It lowers your heart rate • It helps lower your blood pressure • It helps you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) • It improves your core muscle stability • It improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise • It lowers your chances of injuring or wearing out your muscles • It slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy • Improves digestion • Helps support correct posture One account we like on Instagram is Performance_breathworks where performance breathing coach and Scotsman, Andrew, shares tips on getting the most from every breath you take. Andrew expains "My first port of call to give people an idea of how to start breathing functionally is always to focus on nasal breathing at all times. This is essentially because the nose is literally designed for breathing and subsequently it has so many more helpful functions that the mouth does not". Some key benefits of nasal breathing: • The nose helps to clean, filter and warm the incoming air subsequently acting as a far better line of defence than the mouth.  • Breathing through the nose harnesses the gas nitric oxide which pools in the nasal cavity. This gas then acts as a dilator to the blood vessels and soft tissues allowing for far better delivery.  • Another key benefit to nasal breathing is it elicits the use of the main breathing muscle the diaphragm to pull the air into the lower portion of the lungs where the majority of the blood sits allowing for a better mix of oxygen and blood to be delivered around the body and brain. • This deep belly breath which activates the lower portion of the lungs also helps to stimulate the vagus nerve which is fundamental in creating a calm relaxed response to all forms of stress – essential as we live and try to function mid pandemic post lockdown • The belly breath using the diaphragm also acts as a stabilizer to the spine and promotes functional movement. Basically we have evolved to use our noses to breathe and in the last few hundred years we have not only lost our way with nasal breathing but with breathing in general. Our breath gives us the ability to take control of our state and not let unnecessary outside stressors control us which is such a common issue in this modern world especially as this current pandemic imposes another stressor onto the existing load.  He adds "Fortunately there is something simple that we can all do about it to help control our state and start to become participants and not passengers. Reconnect with our breath". Here is a simple step by step guide to use the breath to alleviate stress and use the brains natural brake pedal. Consider your Posture, being Aware of your Breath and the Speed of your breathing. Firstly, Posture – If you are sitting or standing pretend there is a string pulling you up from the top of your head to help lengthen your spine allowing the diaphragm to have sufficient space. Alternatively, if you are lying down have your knees bent feet flat on the floor. Secondly, Awareness – Be aware of your breathing and also your breathing mechanics to do this place your hands at your sides under your lower ribs AS YOU BREATH IN FEEL YOUR HANDS MOVE OUT. You do not want upper chest breathing concentrate on your hands moving out as you breath in. If you find this hard to do sitting or standing try lying down as this is the easiest position to breath functionally. Finally, Pause and Slow down – Slow your breathing down - try inhaling for a count of 4 seconds and exhale  for 6 or inhale for 5 and exhale for 5. Keep Well, Dr Clara Russell  
Brain Health Basics: Serotonin
Brain Health

Brain Health Basics: Serotonin

What is Serotonin? Serotonin is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter ( a chemical which helps brain cells communicate) which regulates numerous processes in the body.  In your brain's control centre, serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter and acts as a messenger substance for the excitation of your nerve cells. This neurotransmitter helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain.  Serotonin ensures that all information processed in the brain runs smoothly and correctly.  If the hormone is present in too small a dose, these processes can become unbalanced, which potentially affects your body and your mood. Happiness and Serotonin Known as the "happiness hormone” a well-regulated serotonin is super important, for the brain and your mood and it is also able to influence other areas of your physical well-being. Research supports the idea that some depressed people have reduced serotonin transmission and low levels of a serotonin byproduct have been linked to a higher risk for suicide. How is Serotonin Made? Since about 95% of serotonin is produced in the intestine, it is very important that it is healthy in order to be able to produce the hormone.  Many people choose to rely on pre- and probiotic powders, drinks or supplements to keep their digestive tract alert.  Fermented food such as kimchi or sauerkraut can also be helpful as well as ensuring you are eating a wide variety of vegetables and plenty of fibre. Since serotonin, for example, is formed from certain amino acids, you should try to ensure that you get enough of them in your diet.  This includes, in particular, the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in particular in foods such as nuts, fish, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs.  You can read more on the science of serotonin and tryptophan here. How Do You Boost Serotonin You want to support your well-being naturally and do something for a normal serotonin level?  Then the following nutrients are just right for you. Make sure that you take in enough of these in your diet.  Vitamin B6 contributes to normal mental function. Good vegetable sources include avocados, cabbage, green beans, and lentils. Good animal sources are poultry, liver, and fish. Vitamin D which can be ingested through a balanced diet and can also be formed under sunlight, is essential to support your immune system and is also associated with mood in initial scientific studies. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, and flaxseed and oils also contain a lot of omega-3. These healthy fats contribute to the structure of healthy brain cells and are among the most important nutrients for brain health and functioning. Keep Well Dr Clara Russell
What Is Your Favourite Simple or Guilty Pleasure?
Brain Health

What Is Your Favourite Simple or Guilty Pleasure?

Some people call it their guilty pleasure whilst for others it’s a simple pleasure - or perhaps you’ve a penchant for both? If so, well done! I’ve always been an advocate of celebrating the simple pleasures in life and how they can impact your brain health and there's a science backed research paper to prove its positive benefits. Using a unique real-time survey method, researchers from the University of Melbourne  have for the first time, found that experiencing more simple pleasures during the day is related to making better progress on personal goals.  They also found that having a bad day full of annoyances derails people from their goals, but that the negative effect of such annoyances can be completely cancelled out if people experience a counter-balancing high number of simple pleasures. The study’s lead author, Associate Professor Nicole Mead says the results have implications for life both at home and at workplace and with so many of us currently in WFH mode is really is crucial to take time out.  Why are simple pleasures vital for goal progress? Modern day life, even without the stress of Covid-19, is full of struggles and challenges, which erode the very psychological resources we need to make progress on our goals.  This study suggests that simple pleasures have the power to restore those feelings of positivity and happiness, giving you the energy and perspective you need to pursue the difficult but important things in life. “Our results suggest that the real power of simple pleasures that make us feel good seems to come from when things aren’t going well. A simple pleasure seems to restore people’s psychological reserves to do well,” says Associate Professor Mead Taking time to indulge in a simple pleasure like leafing throw a magazine, going window shopping or enjoying a take-away coffee in your local green space may actually help to fortify us psychologically to make progress on our goals.  When it comes to TV my guilty pleasure is Modern Family (Cam makes me laugh every single time), First Dates or re-runs of Come Dine With Me. On the simple pleasure front it’s going for a walk on the beach, anything to do with new stationary, browsing bookshops and ordering a takeaway to enjoy with my family. In fact the book I am currently reading is from The School of Life and its title is ‘Simple Pleasures’. It's dedicated to the little things that can charm, enrapture or entertain us. The mission of the book is to build a philosophy of appreciation that encourages us to explore more deeply and get more out of it - the many sources of happiness that are currently a bit neglected. So please don’t be neglecting your happiness, it’s so important in these every changing times.  Keep Well, Dr Clara Russell
Decision Time
Brain Health

Decision Time

We're facing a lot of choices and things to consider amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Cut yourself slack: it's called decision fatigue. Is it safe to go for a cuppa and cake with your friend ? Can the kids have a play date? What to say if a friend refuses to wear a mask? Are the schools safe? Should we be taking chances eating in a restaurant? Should I be going out for a drink in a bar? Is public transport safe?  What if there are no gloves at the petrol station? When my boss asks me to come back to the office, should I? I’m sure at some point or another we are lying awake at night racking our brain for the answers to all of the questions which continue to arise and preparing for another day of unprecedented choices.  Decision fatigue is the term for what you might be experiencing and this coined by American social psychologist Roy Baumeister. Decision fatigue is specifically defined:  decision fatigue is the emotional and mental strain resulting from a burden of choices. When humans are overstressed, we can become hasty, irritable or shut down, and that stress plays a huge role in our behaviours, including our decision making. "It’s a state of low willpower that results from having invested effort into making choices," said Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University who coined the term in 2010. "It leads to putting less effort into making further choices, so either choices are avoided or they are made in a very superficial way.”  You can view some of the professor’s lectures on this subject here. The human brain has a limited capacity of energy, and as you make decisions throughout the day, you deplete that resource. As you become fatigued, you may be inclined to avoid additional decisions, stick to the status quo or base a decision on a single criteria, Baumeister said.  When we're able to maintain daily routines, the brain can automate decisions and rely on mental shortcuts to avoid fatigue, but Covid has disrupted many of our routines, forcing us to allocate more mental energy to decision-making. Researchers  have found that people making decisions in high pressured scenarios or when making moral and ethical decisions, are also prone to buckle under decision fatigue. Tips for avoiding decision fatigue There are some simple strategies for avoiding decision fatigue: First of all, try to be mindful and concentrate on exactly what you’re doing in that moment When shopping, limit the number of stores you visit Keep a mask in your bag, in your car and by your front door Be prepared as much as you can - this applies to pretty much everything - fuel in your car, money in your wallet, an umbrella in your bag, etc Focus on timing your decisions and developing routines to cut out unnecessary choices, this might include meal plans for the week and sticking to a routine for sleep and exercise Willpower diminishes and decision fatigue increases over the course of the day, so when you have important decisions to make, try to make them in the morning after a full night’s sleep and a good breakfast Plan out tomorrow's schedule the day before Lay out your clothes in the evening, or – like Steve Jobs – develop a uniform Pack your bag for school or work or exercising the night before Prioritise your decisions, and try to focus on one at a time Stick to apps or websites you know, trust and love Keep Well, Dr Clara Russell
7 everyday ways your may be sabotaging your brain health
Brain Health

7 everyday ways your may be sabotaging your brain health

Too Little Sleep Sleep deprivation can have a huge effect on how your brain functions throughout the day. One study, for example, limited the sleep of test subjects to 4.5 hours a night and the result was that these people experienced significantly more stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion. Not exactly the best things for a well-running brain. Lack of focus and forgetting things like your face mask, car keys or phone can also be an effect of prolonged sleep deprivation. Too Busy It’s important to take time out do do nothing or relax or do whatever helps you unwind. Whether it’s reading, walking, cooking, watching Come Dine With Me or exercising, make sure you have a sure fire way to switch off from work, the news and your responsibilities. Too much busyness is unhealthy, in so many ways. Try to mindfully switch off from being busy in your brain and your body. Too Little Stimulation Much like your body needs exercise to stay in shape, your brain needs to be exercised as well. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Research suggests that the more you think, learn, and engage in mentally stimulating activities, the better your cognitive abilities get.  Mentally stimulating activities also decreases the risk of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Too Much Sugar and Food High-sugar diets can result in dental issues, diabetes, acne, weight gain and some evidence even suggests it promotes the growth of cancer . Sugar can also cripple the function of your brain and research has also found that a high sugar diet can negatively affect your memory and ability to learn new things. Overeating, especially unhealthy foods, is another factor that can negatively affect your brain and body. Studies show that an obese person’s brain ages faster compared to that of a person who is more lean. Too Much Doomscrolling Spending extended time periods on social media, checking the news and generally being in a vortex of reading the news is not good for your mood or your brain health. This type of activity can upsets your cortisol levels and keep you awake at night. Try to get off devices at least an hour before you start your wind down routine before bed. Too Much Alcohol Moderation is the key here. Too much alcohol can damage your gut health, liver, and impair the function of your brain. Researchers have found that heavy or chronic drinkers have a smaller brain, diminished memory, an inability to think abstractly and reduced ability to focus. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, please contact your GP. Too Much Stress Too much of this and if reaches extreme levels, stress can cause significant harm to your health, weaken your immune system, cause insomnia, depression, and even increase the risk of heart disease. Chronic stress can damage or kill off brain cells, this is because stress causes a surplus of the neurotransmitter called glutamate, which creates free radicals in the brain. These free radicals can cause damage to healthy brain cells. Make sure you have stress busting skills you can turn to when you need to. Keep well, Dr Clara Russell