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7 Festive Brain Boosts

Kelly Bos


'Tis the season for merriment, connection, reflection and celebrations and this focus is very good for our well being and specifically for our brain. Here are a few brain boosts you might not have associated with the holidays.

1. Pass the Cranberries:

Cranberries are chalk full of anti-oxidants, so yummy and definitely a common presence in holiday treats, Christmas dinner sides and it is a great herbal tea to cosy up with at the fire. Cranberries are well known as the drink of choice for those doubled over from UTI's but they are also fantastic for the brain with studies showing positive affects for post stroke sufferers and that the ursolic acid, a specific compoud found in cranberries, may protect brain cells from injury and degeneration. 

2. Don't Pass By the Puzzles:

I don't know who brings them out every season, but someone does, and you think maybe I will do just a few, group a few colours, finish at the border, and the hours pass. It might not have been the best sleep decision for that late evening, but not to worry, puzzles are indeed good for the brain. Puzzles work both the left logical sequence side of your brain and the creative right side. David Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson authors of The Whole Brain Child state, “The brain has two sides for a reason: with each side having specialized functions, we can achieve more complex goals and carry out more intricate, sophisticated tasks. Significant problems arise when the two sides of our brain are not integrated and we end up coming at our experiences primarily from one side or the other...In order to live balanced, meaningful, and creative lives full of connected relationships, it’s crucial that our two hemispheres work together”. 

3. Hit the Slopes (or Skating Rink):

Skiing, cross country or downhill and skating are great forms of aerobic and muscle building exercse. Exercise is a mood booster that can help reduce anxious and depressive symptoms, aids in sleep and helps with clear thinking. Being outside on the slopes or at an outdoor rink, brings sunshine, fresh air and the beautiful sights which feel great. With these activities there are also the effects of cross lateral movements which activitates both hemispheres of the brain.

4. Laughing Stock:

The holidays bring families and friends together and hopefully a lot of laughter. They say it is the best medicine and it is pretty awesome for the brain, here's why: laughter improves memory, elevates mood, increases motivation, reduces pain, lowers stress, boosts immunity, and it releases dopamine, a natural opiate. 

5. Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? 

The answer is no! A familar Christmas CD, family heirloom ornaments or decorations, whimsy about playing in the snow can all bring up fond memories of the past and it is good for you as reminicing can improve productivity and boost mental preformance.

6. The Long Winter's Nap:

Not only does your body scream for them during the holidays, naps can help your brain make decisions, feel more alert, and increase motor preformance. It is even in the traditional festive literature... “And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap” Twas the Night before Christmas even brings up these brain settling naps (although technically it was actually the night)! 

7. Choose Chocolate:

Studies are showing the consuming chocolate positively affects a person's cognitive abilities. Good news for chocolate lovers as chocolate can help with concentration levels. This might help counter what my friend calls turkey lethargy posioning regularly induced after the Christmas meal.

So eat, sleep, drink and be merry, much of it has the great effects of your brain on Christmas.