Beat Summer Brain Drain
SPONSORED BY: The Brain Wave Center
Some new ideas – with a twist ...
Summer break is just around the corner. Many of you are selecting summer camps, vacations, and other healthy activities for your kids – to have some fun and recharge before school starts again. But what about the Summer Brain Drain! Short of academically based required summer reading, no-fun tutoring, education apps and other activities – is there anything specific for the brain?
The answer is YES! Three area/activities that can directly help the brain during the summer are Eating, Exercise, and Brain Training. Below are some ideas with some interesting twists.
It is well established that the brain accounts for up to 20 percent of the body’s total power requirements. Get your kids involved with the grocery shopping. Engaging your children with food shopping is a great way to encourage their sensory development and keep your brain super charged!
This seemingly simple activity familiarizes them with different foods. Here are some grocery store games to play with kids:
• Have your child find a whole food item (fruit, vegetable, grain, meat, or nut) for every color of the rainbow.
• Choose a letter of the alphabet and have your child pick out a whole food item that starts with that letter.
• Assign your child a shape or texture and challenge them to find a food that matches it in the produce section.
Afterwards, get your kids in the kitchen. There’s a task for every age, whether it’s sorting, rinsing, measuring, pouring, or cutting. Kids of all stages will benefit from having hands-on contact with foods. Picky eaters are more likely to expand their palettes once they’ve had the chance to see, smell, touch, and taste foods throughout the cooking process.
Here’s one suggestion for the family to try: Zucchini Pizza Bites.
And speaking of food, how about planting a garden this summer?
Kids who tend a garden will learn about soil, seeds and caring for seedlings, where food comes from, and more. You can plant a windowsill garden in your house, start one in your backyard. Bonus: gardening is good exercise!
Exercise, Play and the Circulatory System
Movement, such as play, is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. Movement is vital to your health. How does that relate specifically to your brain? The answer is circulation.
Typically, we give more thought to weight management than to our circulation. But, if you’re interested in preventing disease and cleansing your body of toxins, pollutants, additives, and chemicals, your circulatory system is your partner; and it needs your help to stay strong.
The circulatory system consists of two distinct systems that work together: the cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system. We all get how play and exercise keeps the heart strong so it can push nutrient rich and oxygenated blood throughout the body and the brain. There is actually three times as much lymph fluid in your body as there is blood. When the lymphatic system is in balance it effectively flushes waste and toxins out of the body. It also carries immune cells throughout the body to help defend against infections.
However, your lymphatic system is not as lucky as your blood circulatory system to have a powerful pump (the heart) to push it along. It relies on movement, such as play, regular exercise, gravity, and breathing. There are also new techniques such as electronic lymphatic drainage, hydrotherapy, and traditional massage therapy that can aid the lymphatic system.
Neurofeedback or Brain Training can benefit everyone. It guides the brain to a more balanced emotional state and improves cognitive efficiency. Based on our own experience and recent studies, we now understand that Neurofeedback can help increase attention and working memory performance, reduce anxiety or depression, and help those with symptoms of ADHD, autism, and much more. Other applications could include personal development, peak performance at work, improved athletic control, or inner awareness. Now could be the time to benefit from this drug free, non-invasive, well researched training program.
Neurofeedback is a way to quantify and train brain activity. How it works is quite simple. Brain cells interact creating thoughts, sensations, actions and emotions; detectable as brain waves. Neurofeedback specifically monitors brain waves, looks for irregularities, then produces a signal that is designed to correct and guide brain waves back into a healthy pattern. Overtime, the brain will learn to stay in healthy ranges on its own, through a process called operant conditioning.
Neurofeedback programs are customized to you, to overcome a variety of issues and experience long lasting results. Neurofeedback focuses on building new neural pathways, strengthening the brain, rather than patching up symptoms.
Neurofeedback can be effective on its own. However, continued research has shown that when it is combined with traditional therapies, exercise, proper nutrition and good sleep, the outcomes are typically superior. Neurofeedback is not a quick fix, but it is an effective, drug free and natural approach to help improve mood, concentration, and overall functioning.
Vacations are important and built into the schedule to allow students and teachers some time to recharge. It’s true that research demonstrates that extended periods away from school can have a negative effect on academic retention and performance. Perhaps adding the simple activities described above can help improve brain function while having some fun at the same time. Enjoy your summer vacation!
Gregg Sledziewski is the Executive Director, Brain Wave Center of Sarasota. For more information on this cutting-edge approach call 941-552-4500 or visit their website at www.BrainwaveSarasota.com.