Mind Mapping

by Gillian Burn

Looking after your brain

Mind Maps® will help you to use your brain more effectively, but you also need to take care of your brain and maintain its optimum health if you are to get the best from it.

Brain food

You may want to consider the following dietary habits, designed to stimulate the brain and enhance transmission of information between brain cells.

  • It’s important to drink water regularly, as this enhances connectivity between brain cells and ensures that brain pathways can transmit information effectively – think of a river flowing with plenty of water and the contrast with a dried up river bed!
  • Ensuring you eat breakfast helps to maintain energy levels, stimulating brain function and restoring glucose and energy stores after sleep.
  • Eating regular meals throughout the day helps to maintain sufficient energy stores.
  • Make sure you eat food containing the valuable Omega 3 fatty oils found in fish (sardines, herrings, pilchards, salmon), pumpkin seeds and nuts (walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashew nuts). Omega 3 oils help to enhance brain function.

Mens sana in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body).

Roman poet Juvenal
  • Other high energy foods for the brain include oats (muesli, porridge) and brown rice. These help improve neuro-transmission, enhancing mental and thinking skills.
  • Try to reduce the amount of processed foods you eat, as these are often high in fat, sugar and salt and not so beneficial for brain cells.
  • Maintain a healthy balance of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables.

Brain exercise

If you exercise your brain you will positively influence your body; if you exercise your body you will positively influence your brain.

Tony Buzan

Remember to take regular brain breaks, with simple exercises to keep your brain stimulated and alert. If you stand up and walk around, the blood and oxygen supply to the body and brain is increased, improving brain function and reducing eye strain and stress.

Exercise improves brain function:

  • A well-exercised body has 500ml more blood
  • Your brain uses 25 per cent of circulating blood.

Here are some simple good habits that will help your brain to work well:

  • Take a mini break every 45 minutes
  • Stand up
  • Walk around
  • Get a glass of water
  • Change your position.

Brain break ideas

It may seem worthy to slog on regardless, but you’ll achieve more in the same time if you take time out for some quick exercises.

Eye exercises

Regular eye exercises help to reduce eye strain, so you will have fewer headaches and be less likely to suffer itchy and dry eyes. For example, every 30 minutes, look away from the computer screen; blink consciously and focus your eyes into the distance; move your eyes around an imaginary clock face; use gentle circular movements or gentle tapping with your finger tips around the eyes to stimulate blood flow and exercise the eye muscles.

Desk exercises

Simple desk exercises include elbow flare, shoulder shrug, arm stretch, standing up tall, and trunk mobility twist.

Brain Gym®

Brain gym exercises were developed over 20 years ago by doctors Dennison and Dennison, initially for children with learning difficulties. They are particularly beneficial for anyone wishing to improve brain function (from children to adults).

The series of exercises increases energy and provides valuable eye relaxation from computer work. The exercises activate and stimulate both sides of the brain, improving whole-brain learning and enhancing

  • Creativity
  • Thinking skills
  • Focusing attention
  • Mental and physical fitness
  • Alertness
  • Memory.

Examples include

As you learn, the circuitry of the brain learns too.

Professor Robert Winston
  • Cross crawl – an arm and leg exercise, crossing over the midline of the body
  • Lazy 8 – improves visual attention and eye mobility
  • Hook ups – an exercise to relax the central nervous system.

See Brain Gym.