We used to believe that once our bodies reach physical maturity, the brain no longer generates new brain tissue and because the brain no longer heals itself, we would eventually suffer dementia by the time we reach old age.
Thankfully, the belief that our brains are static organs has been proven wrong. The brain is one dynamic organ with the continuous capacity to regenerate new tissue. In other words, our brain continually heals over time.
The brain healing process
There are two processes involved, namely neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Neurogenesis is the process of creating new neurons while neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to recognize and rebuild new neural pathways.
When these two processes are combined and understood, we now have the ability to keep our brain healthy and in top shape.
An article by Dr. Roger Landry at MindBodyGreen.com cites two things that can help prevent brain decay.
Keep on learning
Learning helps prevent brain decay, and the process of learning new skills is like being continually exposed to a fountain of youth for your brain. The more we learn, the more we use our brain and when we use our brain more, we help keep it in the best shape possible.
Protect the brain through mindfulness
Mindfulness helps prevent stress and protect the brain. According to Dr. Landry, stress rots us from within and can be very destructive to our cognitive function. Rather than letting our emotions take control of our stressed-out state, we can actually control the way we think in order to regain control. Through mindfulness, we can decrease our stress levels.
You can read the full article here.
What You Can Do To Help Your Child
Understanding how the brain works is crucial to protecting our child’s brain, and helping us maintain our own brain health as well. When we know what makes the brain active, we think of ways to keep it active. For example, studies have shown that people who keep their brain active by solving puzzles or learning new things were more likely to avoid degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
For parents, you can always encourage your children to be active learners. What do I mean by active learning? This is where he or she participates in an activity where he or she is engaged physically and mentally – like doing a crossword puzzle, or putting together a 100-piece puzzle. Other forms of active learning include activities like reading a book, writing, and any activity that involves synthesis, application, and evaluation (Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning).
It’s also very important for children to learn how to deal with stress and this is to teach them how to be mindful. They need to be reminded that they have control over any stressful situation.
I also recommend the following books. For further resources on mindfulness for children, check out the excellent “Child’s Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children Be More Focused, Calm, and Relaxed“. It’s about teaching mindfulness and its concepts to adults and teaching them how they can pass it forward to their children.
The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time (The Instant Help Solutions Series) is an excellent resource. This is a book that shows young people about different mindfulness strategies and exercises that will allow them to better themselves, regardless of what life throws at them. I highly recommend this book.