Life @ U of T

Introduction

How I’m Helping Keep My Mind Healthy and Refreshed This School Year

How I’m Helping Keep My Mind Healthy and Refreshed This School Year

Did you know that we can do certain things to keep our minds sharp and well functioning? I recently discovered the concept of “brain training” and I’ve been super into trying out some of the things suggested in these regimens. For those who don’t know, brain training incorporates activities and lifestyle changes to help boost and maintain your brain function. In addition to trying out brain training, I’ve also been making a deliberate effort to use different parts of my brain every day. I find that this helps me stay fresh and alert throughout the day!

A gif of a dancing brain
Creds: giphy.com

 According to an article I’ve been following, brain training involves cognitive training exercises and encourages you to adopt physical exercise, a good diet, better sleep, and meditation to benefit your brain. I’ve been making these changes to my life slowly—ever since quarantine began, I fell off the physical exercise train, but I’ve been making an effort to eat healthy, sleep 8 hours/night, and meditate for 15 minutes when I wake up in the morning.

A picture of a plate of sliced mango
Mango is my favourite healthy snack!

Though I’m not sure whether I notice my brain getting faster or sharper by doing this, it certainly helps me think clearly and stay calm. Sometimes I’ll be really stressed out about an upcoming assignment or feel really overwhelmed, but sleeping eight hours will have me waking up feeling much more in control the next day. 

A picture of a kitten in a bed
My new foster kitten knows how to sleep <3

Apart from trying to give my brain everything it needs to function well, I’ve also been making an effort to switch up the kind of tasks I do in a day. I study social sciences, and so I spend a lot of time reading dense theory and analyzing information. This is the type of work my brain does the majority of the time, so I’ve been making an effort to spend a chunk of my day doing tasks that require different mental capacities. 

For example, I always make an effort to take classes that force me to use my brain in different ways. This year, I’m fulfilling my breadth requirements by taking two physical geography classes—a GIS mapping course which teaches me how to create maps using GIS software, and a scientific geography course. Though these courses are challenging, I find that doing them leaves me feeling refreshed, as they require me to use my brain in completely different ways. In previous years, I’ve taken more sciencey course in my program, like Political Science stats courses.

A picture of a map entitled "Downtown Toronto Drop-In Centres in Relation to City Parks"
A map I made in my GIS class!

 I’ve also been taking time off to practice drawing, creating my bullet journal pages, or doing something else that is creative. Making sure that I take time off during the day to do tasks like this makes me work a lot more efficiently and feel less bogged down or “brain dead” at the end of the day, because I’m exercising different parts of my brain and changing up my mental processes. 

A picture of the words "October" and various Halloween drawings drawn on the page of a bullet journal
Bullet journalling for the month of October!

Though I haven’t seen any huge results in terms of long-term brain function, making sure my brain gets what it needs to function properly and making an effort to change up what I do in the day has felt really good for my mental health and happiness on a day-to-day basis.

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