Welcome to the Wheel of Wellbeing (WoW) – a simple framework designed to improve people’s health, happiness and wellbeing by focusing on six areas – Body, Mind, Spirit, People, Place and Planet. This monthly newsletter provides a roundup of the latest wellbeing tips, activities, research and resources to inspire better health and wellbeing. Tap into them – for yourself, your families, workplaces, schools and communities – and help create a happier world for us all!
This month we are focusing on how to keep our brains in tiptop shape.
Exercise that grey matter – learn something new
Our brain has an amazing ability to change and form new connections between brain cells. This ability to reorganise itself is called neuroplasticity. It enables the brain to grow and develop in the early years of life but continues throughout adulthood whenever something new is learned or memorised. So, think of your brain like a muscle, it needs a regular workout to stop it from getting flabby.
5 activities to exercise your brain
Build a jigsaw puzzle
Learn a new skill
Take up Tai Chi
Learn a new language
Fuel your brain for success
Did you know our brain is approximately 70% water and accounts for about 20% of our daily energy requirements? Making sure that we provide our brains with the right food supports the brain’s ability to function and our mood. It can improve our sleep, increase our concentration and combat the impacts of stress.
5 Foods to improve your mood
Eat a rainbow: fruit and vegetables fall into five different colour categories, each colour providing a variety of important vitamins and nutrients that can prevent disease. Aim for two serves of fruit and five serves of veg a day.
Oily fish, nuts and seeds. They contain omega 3, an essential fatty acid that keeps our brain in good shape.
Protein rich foods such as lean meat, eggs, lentils. Protein is essential for keeping your brain focused and sharp.
Eat low-GI foods (carbohydrates that release energy slowly). These help to increase the ‘good mood’ chemicals in the brain. Foods that do this include: whole oats, quinoa, carrots, sweet potato and wholegrain rice. These will make you feel more satisfied than eating processed carbohydrates like white bread.
Drink plenty of water to keep your brain hydrated and prevent dehydration, a common cause of headaches and tiredness.
Be kind, compassionate and mindful
Being kind to yourself and others not only makes you feel good but it can actually change the physiology of your brain. Kindness boosts serotonin and dopamine levels, which work on the reward/pleasure centres giving you feelings of satisfaction. Research on Tibetan monks has found that regular meditation focused on compassion actually creates structural changes in the brain and new neural connections.
Create a focal point for wellbeing activities in your school, workplace or community with these national and international days.
International book giving day – 14th February is about sharing the love of books!
The aim? To get books into the hands of as many children as possible.
One third of children in the UK, and most children in developing countries do not own books. International Book Giving Day’s focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th. So why not:
Gift a book to a friend or family member.
Leave a book in a waiting room for children to read.
Donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or organisation that distributes used books to children in need internationally.
Build your neural pathways with Sock Juggling!
Click on this link and make your own juggling ‘thuds’ out of old socks and learn to juggle
Research shows that learning a task, like juggling, that requires simultaneous control of multiple movements, balance and swapping attention between a number of objects stimulates the growth of nerve connections in the brain. So juggling is a great activity for exercising body and mind as well as being fun. And with this upcycling activity, you are also helping save the planet by making use of all those odd socks. Win Win!
Join the reading revolution. Find out more about how you can connect through reading at www.thereader.org.uk or check out the Global Book Alliance and help end illiteracy.
Get brainy about your brain! This brain facts website has lots of materials on various aspects of the brain.
Can you change your brain for the better? Find out here: The Science of the Positive Brain Change.
Take your brain for a crash video course in neuroscience.
Please feel free to use all or parts of this newsletter for your websites, blog, social media, newsletter or other communications to inspire your group members