It never stops. Its neurons reach a top speed of 270 mph. It has more axons and dendrites than stars in the sky.
Unlike any other creature on Earth, the human brain uses an incredible amount of energy compared to every other organ in the body. Whether we're doing nothing or solving differential calculus, our brains use 20% of the calories we consume, 20% of the oxygen we breathe, and 25% of the blood in our bodies. That means if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 400 of them go directly to the area between the eyes and above the neck. Essentially, if we all had an electrical socket installed on top we could light a 20-watt bulb with nothing more than the power of our thoughts.
So what’s the cost? What’s the drawback to the body's most powerful engine? The upkeep. If we don't nurture it daily, minute by minute, thought by thought, we may find ourselves with an engine failure on the final stretch of the race. Here are a few tips to keep a healthy mind that doesn't break down before crossing the finish line.
1. Take a Pit Stop
Slow and steady actually does win the race. Though stillness and silence are hard to come by in an electrified, 24/7 world, when we do find the time to stop for a breather our bodies have renewed energy, healthier skin, better digestion, & enhanced immune systems. Even a six-minute nap has been noted to improve memory. Neglecting ourselves a break is like not stopping for gas in order to save time. You may keep a few seconds now, but in the long run you’ll lose more!
2. Improve your Aerodynamics
Aerobics are sustained exercises that improve the body's use of oxygen. By strengthening the heart and lungs through activities such as jogging, rowing, swimming, or cycling, we enhance our use of "aero," or "air," which improves mental abilities. Improving mileage by tweaking a body's aerodynamics is not much different than tuning up our own bodies through aerobics. The only difference is a car has the use for a spare tire, while we're better off without one.
3. Be a Team Player
Studies find that interacting with other people improves planning, decision making, and response control. Socializing reduces cortisol and keeps us going longer on less. There may be one driver in the car, but a whole team must get him across the finish line. As the old saying goes, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." The same goes for mental health!
Studies have shown that people who eat fish once a week have a 60% lower chance of developing Alzheimer's disease! If you don't like fish, then add some oil to your engine. Foods with healthy fats & oils contain vitamin E, which lowers the risk of AD by nearly 70%!
5. Finish the Race
Perhaps our biggest mistake is viewing it as a race at all. Our minds and lives are not about “winning” or “being first” or “getting the best time.” The truth is there was no white line to begin with-- some started way ahead, some way behind, and some on another track altogether.
It’s not as if we were given one vehicle and engine to drive for the rest of our lives. The mind is more than that. Scientists agree there's more mystery in our grey matter than there is in any other type of matter on Earth or far outside of it.
Maybe instead of focusing on the scratches we get along the way, or that time we used the wrong kind of fuel, or how much slower and farther behind we are than we thought we would be, we should stop and be thankful for what we have. We have a mind that can take us to the top of Everest if we want to go. It can take us to the bottom of the ocean if we want to see it. It can take us to the Moon and back if we try hard enough.
So next time you’re smoking on the side of the road with an overheated engine and can’t believe your situation, pause and be thankful that your mind is the world’s greatest vehicle, and that even when you’re stopped at a dead-end standstill, your wheels are always turning.