I don’t know about you, but my brain tends to stay on all the time.
It controls what I do and much to my amusement, it tries to control other people! That’s so funny because I don’t always do what my brain wants me to do, yet I spend time actually thinking about what everyone else “should” be doing.
The reality is: Our brains keep our legs moving, hearts beating, and fingers typing.
It secretes hormones, gives off nerve impulses and helps me remember my name, where I live, and what I am going to cook for dinner tonight.
In addition, my brain generates over 60,000 thoughts a day. Maybe you can relate? Thoughts about about injuries while my son plays sports, my kids grades, my son in Austria, shifts in my business, dirt on the kitchen floor, how my dog snores, cookbook sales, weeds in our yard no one was addressing, hair on the bathroom floor, errands I need to run, what someone said to me in that text message, what I thought that text message meant, and how I need to generate a topic for my next newsletter.
My brain’s higher function can plan parties, make decisions for my business and believe it or not, even talks me out of my dream goals by telling me to stay safe, eat M&M’s, and watch Netflix. (In other words, be comfortable, Maggie. You’ve done enough.)
I really started thinking about this and came to the conclusion that we never really learn how to take care of our brains. We read a lot about how to care for our heart, skin, and lungs. Our legs, abs, and hair.When we do read about our brains, the focus is on staying sharp, preventing aging, and Alzheimer’s disease.
But what about all the other stuff our brain does for us as the amazing living, breathing, thinking machines that we humans are?
Then, I asked my brain this question,”What have I done for you lately?”
Here’s what my brain said: “you sometimes feed me crappy foods, you often think crappy thoughts, we hydrate with crappy drinks, you short-cut sleep, and we start our my day at 90 MPH, as soon as your feet hit the floor.” Wow. Nothing like a bit of brain honesty.
As a result of this conversation with my brain, I decided to experiment with brain love and care. My goal was to see how my brain responded to special loving treatment. Here’s how the experiment went.
I decided to feed my brain better. This is naturally where dietitians start – with nourishing food. So, to honor my brain, I fed it less peanut M&M’s and ice cream. (Two of my favorite sweets.) I served it less beer and wine. (And I love red wine and a good stout beer.) I cooked it more organic vegetables, whole grains, plant-based entrees, and fish. I snacked on tasty nuts (and not Kettle chips), and blended morning smoothies with dark berries and green vegetables. We drank a lot of fresh water.
*My brain responded with joy. I experienced fewer brain aches and less brain fog. I’m not even kidding. My brain has never felt so good physically.
I decided to let my brain get some rest while I sleep at night. I no longer see not sleeping as a badge of honor. Gone were the discussions about how late I stayed up to watch an NBA game, or Jimmy Fallon. (I love Jimmy Fallon too.) At a reasonable time, I washed my face, brushed my teeth, fixed a cup of mint tea, and went to bed. If I wasn’t immediately sleepy, I’d listen to a nice podcast or read a boring, but soothing, book. I also made a decision to cut back on what I suspect interrupted my sleep: reading from iPad and iPhone screens, caffeine, alcohol (there’s that red wine again), and after dinner dessert or snacks.
*My brain is happy to report that Maggie sleeps at least 6 hours straight almost every night, while it’s having a subconscious party and some really good dreams.
I decided to wake my brain up gently and monitor inputs. I experimented with stopping morning inputs: not checking email, Twitter, Upwork messages, my calendar, group chats, or Instagram in the morning. (Some of these I hardly have the desire to check at all anymore!) I wake up when the other humans in the house (and their brains) are still asleep. My brain and I pour a cup of coffee and we sit together in a cozy chair with my favorite blanket. We don’t jump into a litany of what we need to do. Most of the time we don’t think about anything, plan anything or read anything.
*My brain is happy to report that it loves this kinder, gentler morning and the lack of inputs. And here’s the funny part: my brain stays calm and quiet the rest of the day too. Isn’t that interesting?
I decided to ask my brain some questions. After this period of quiet time, and instead of telling my brain what we were going to do that day, I asked it questions. My brain likes to have something to do, something to figure out.
- Who do we want to be today?
- How do we want to show up for our kids, husband, family, clients, and tasks?
- What can we think today that we’ll feel so proud of when we go to bed?
- How can we have more fun today?
- What’s our good news for today?
- What can we do today to have fun and make each other laugh and feel good?
- What can we do to offer value to the world?
*My brain responded with amazing answers. I feel more loving, connected, and caring to myself and those around me.
The upshot of this story is that my experiment is over, and I felt so good, I implemented my brain food, rest, awakening, and questions into my daily routine. Physically I feel less brain fog and brain aches. It’s so much easier to operate from a place of physically feeling good. Emotionally I have less negative thoughts, fewer inputs and ideas that are negative, less negative emotions (because I have less negative thoughts), and less of a need for any circumstances or person to change so that I can feel better. If you try to brain love experiment, please keep in touch. I’d love to hear about your results.
Culinary Dietitian, Cookbook Author, and Cookbook Author Maggie Green, RDN, LD, owns The Green Apron Company. The Green Apron specializes in recipe and cookbook development and offers private and group cookbook coaching programs for aspiring cookbook authors.
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