We writers have a challenging job. We try to eat healthy, drink water, move our muscles and improve our health to keep up with the pace of marketing and deadlines without flatlining along the way. All are important for fitness but in our job the brain is the muscle we use the most in a day. Have you thought about brain fitness? These days many people report they are suffering from stress, Covid brain fog, Long Covid, memory fears, media overload and any number of issues that make creativity and efficiency an uphill climb.
When I had my physical a month or so ago, I asked my doctor what I can do to make sure I stay sharp as I age. He said the most important two things are to get regular physical exercise (Ugh! I knew that) and to shock your brain. I know I looked shocked just by his suggestion. I pictured electrodes attached to my head and a technician in a white coat rotating dials.
Well, it’s not that at all. Dr. Aghaie said much research has recently been done on this subject and it’s been proven that challenging yourself with difficult tasks actually builds brain function. These are not run of the mill hard tasks like a game of Sudoku. He says these are the kind of tasks that make your head hurt so that the end of your session you find yourself holding your head and taking a couple of aspirin. Makes sense, doesn’t it? At the end of a hard workout our muscles hurt. The brain is a muscle, so it stands to reason it reacts the same way. When your muscles hurt, you know you are building more muscle. It’s the same with your brain.
The doctor shared that he is shocking his brain by learning Mandarin Chinese, one of the world’s most difficult languages. I took his suggestion to heart. In preparation for my recent webinar, I unraveled the intricacies of Canva and Loom in a few short days. My head hurt at the end of each day. I’m serious about finding shocking new brain challenges because I need to stay sharp to manage all the detail that comes with my job.
If this sounds like pseudo-science, There’s plenty of trusted research out there. This article from Constant Therapy Health was excellent with lots of practical suggestions. Harvard Health had a piece about it. And Sharecare.com looked at a study of 3,000 nuns over several decades. When the nuns died and their brains were autopsied scientists discovered that the better educated nuns who had more challenging jobs had far less Alzheimers disease. You can find hundreds of articles confirming this. And if you are serious, you can dig up and investigate all the original studies as primary source material. That would be a good brain fitness challenge.
I’m looking to find my next challenge. How about you? How do you plan to shock your brain?