Dr. Silke Cresswell is the co-founder and Director of the BC Brain Wellness Program. The program provides free mental health workshops to support people living with chronic brain disorders, their care partners, and healthy agers. By evaluating participant progress, they are hoping to develop a new standard of care that is personable, patient-centric and sustainable. These programs are made possible by donor support to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Based on this work, Dr. Cresswell has put together five helpful tips to improve your health.

  1. Get moving!
    Exercise does wonders. It leads to new brain cells with better connectivity, improved mood, healthier weight management, better sleep, and a reduction in inflammation. You don’t need to take up cross-fit or train for a marathon to see the benefits ­­­— daily walks or yoga sessions are a perfect way to get started.
  2. Eat for your brain
    Wholesome nutrition such as following the principles of the Mediterranean diet is another key component for wellbeing and can prevent or delay cognitive decline and possibly also Parkinson’s disease.
    This means more greens and other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish and poultry and less butter, cheese, pastries, sweets, red meat and fried or fast foods.
  3. Connect with your community
    Connections with your friends, family and neighbours are key aspects to your mental health. The Harvard Study of Adult Development concluded that loneliness can kill as easily as smoking or alcoholism.
    Social integration and community are crucial for happiness and longevity. So foster relationships with friends and family and reach out if you need help. Talking with a friend when you’re feeling down can have a profound impact. Likewise, helping others also has health benefits for the helper.
  4. Keep learning
    An active brain is a healthy brain. Learning or practicing new skills helps keep your mind sharp and can be a lot of fun. Whether it’s working on a craft project, becoming a puzzle master, or reading a new book, stretching your mental muscle every day is not only satisfying, it’s good for you!
  5. Take a mindful moment
    Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgement. By immersing yourself in the sights, sounds and feelings of a particular moment you can improve your ability to focus, reduce stress and better manage anxiety and other mental health challenges.
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