If you consider studies consistently point out the fragile nature of the brain, it is high time to show it some love. Since choices you make today could have lasting impact on the brain, there’s plenty to be gained if you start making improvements right now.
More than 5 million people in the U.S. are currently living with some level of brain injury or concussion, and that total increases about 2.5 million each year. If we round generously, this means about 1 in every 50 people you interact with have some sort of brain damage.
Chances are good that you didn’t wake up this morning with a brain injury, but serious falls and car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. And if they do happen, it’s important to understand that the recovery process from a brain injury is never complete. Among the most persistent symptoms are memory loss, confusion, irritability, anxiety, sadness and impulsivity.
Real life example: Check out the HBO documentary The Crash Reel, which follows Kevin Pearce, former competitor on the snowboarding scene and record-setting X Games champion. On New Year’s Eve in 2009, everything he was working toward came to a halt. Just one week away from the 2010 Winter Olympic qualifying rounds, Pearce took a life-altering fall on the half-pipe and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
After extensive surgery, around-the-clock rehabilitation and exhaustive support from his friends and family, Pearce started to become a new version of himself. The dream of being the greatest snowboarder of all time, now less of a possibility for him, was replaced by new passions.
In 2014, Kevin and his brother Adam Pearce set out to create an organization that focused on brain injury prevention, recovery and mental health. The LoveYourBrain Foundation mission is centered on bringing about awareness and resources for people and brain wellness. The LoveYourBrain team works to connect the greater community with the brain injured community, through educational materials, speaker appearances, yoga classes and music retreats. As they continue with determination to make brain health a universal topic, they are also working to empower us to take more personal responsibility for our own wellbeing and safety.
There are steps that you can take today to improve your brain health, and it starts with understanding that we all have room to improve. For example, by starting your day with clarity and direction, adjusting your diet to include foods that keep you mentally energized, and relaxing your mind and soul through meditation, you’re helping your brain function at its healthiest capacity.
The benefits of showing your brain some love are for everyone. Thanks to the fine folks at the LoveYourBrain Foundation, here are five things that you can fit into your routine:
- Wake up 5 extra minutes earlier to make your bed.
- Plan your day by writing a to-do list.
- Eat some whole grains for lunch today.
- Ask the people you trust their honest opinion about something you’re trying to achieve. Listen to them carefully and consider their suggestions.
- Before you head to bed, work on touching your toes and breathing deeply for 15 minutes.
And you’re done for the day! Your brain will thank you for all the extra effort.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting both Kevin and Adam Pearce in 2014 at one of their speaking engagements, and was truly touched by their passion, determination, and positive energy. With the odds stacked against him, Kevin not only came out on top, but continues to thrive in the face of adversity and daily struggles. He’ll tell you himself that he’ll never be truly healed, but genuinely believes in the brain’s ability to mend and adapt to the new life that has been placed in front of him.
Your personal experiences today may not include interactions with people suffering from brain injuries, but tomorrow’s events just might have one or two. Let’s add a little more patience, a little more understanding, and a little more compassion before we quickly judge our fellow humans. Let’s try and love our brains a little bit more!