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Parent Yourself

My wife and I just recently celebrated the birth of our first child. Our beautiful little girl has been my priority since our last post, and for good reason. These early moments are so precious.

The good news for our subscribers is that I’m back from the reprieve. In fact, my experience with our little one provided the spark of creativity needed for this post. Stay tuned for consistent content as we work through the end of 2016 to build on our momentum to date. In the past month, our following on Instagram has exploded with nearly 1500 people taking an interest in the AYW program. Be sure to check out our page if you haven’t already (@askwhynow).

Back to our musings.

Three weeks have passed since we added to our family. Unlike other species, humans enter the world utterly dependent on caregivers for survival. Ask a new parent about this reality and you’re sure to hear a first-hand perspective about regular feedings, lack of sleep, and a real shift in priorities.

So why are we so different from other species on this planet? It’s simple really. Human infants are especially helpless because their brains are comparatively underdeveloped. A recent publication by Scientific American states that, “…. by one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of a chimpanzee newborn.” Try telling that to your wife! “Honey, our little girl could really have used a pregnancy about twice as long to have really reached her full potential.” Yikes. Growl.

In order to support early development, we did our own research about how to help promote brain activity for our little one. The subject is fascinating, with plenty of good research on the topic. This got me thinking. How can we put in the same effort as adults? If we focus so much on the development of our new children, shouldn’t we take the same approach with our own minds?

A little time spent online coupled with reading academic research leads me to a rather simple conclusion. Much like toddlers, there are specific activities and exercises that our adult brains will benefit from. Many are intuitive and will serve as a gentle reminder of what you should be doing, while others may come as a greater surprise.

Here are our top picks.

1. Eat brain-boosting foods

You’ve likely heard before that foods can influence mood and mental capacity, but did you know that eating right can actually build new brain cells and fight off mental decline?It’s true.Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, that is low in saturated fat and sugar, can help protect brain networks. In fact, studies consistently show that eating a mix of foods like nuts, fish, veggies, and fruit has a significant impact.

2. Exercise

Even a moderate amount of exercise for 30 minutes every day can improve blood flow to your mind.Research consistently links exercise with brain health, particularly in the regions responsible for learning and memory.

3. Get some sleep

The appropriate amount of sleep allows your mind to reset and regenerate.Scientists hold various opinions about why this occurs, but the belief that sleep is critical for the body and mind to function at their prime is rarely debated.Strive to get 7 hours a night, and if you absolutely can’t, consider an afternoon power nap.

4. Try a new activity

Our minds are stimulated by choosing unfamiliar activities that you might enjoy.Doing so actually helps to challenge your mind, and can help you to develop reserve brain capacity for years to come.Some of the changes need only be minor.Mastered Soduko?Try a crossword instead.

5. Meditate

Emerging research now suggests that meditating regularly can enhance your memory.Recent studies link “thinking about not thinking” to a host of physical and mental benefits.Our brains need time to restore and reflect, and meditation is the perfect antidote.

6. Connect

Maintaining close relationships with family and friends has always required full brain capacity. It’s like exercise for your brain when you engage in meaningful dialog, debate current affairs, and are forced to ponder new ways of thinking. You may have always known that good friends add tremendous value to your life, but they also help improve mental performance.

More than anything, maintaining an active and healthy mind requires a balance between many things in life. Pursuing a blend of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, challenging your mind with new activities, and supporting brain health with the right food are all required. You certainly wouldn’t compromise with your newborn, so why sell yourself short? Make it a daily habit to exercise and support the mind.


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