How do you keep your brain healthy? | Coursera Community
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How do you keep your brain healthy?


Hello everyone,

Since we need our brains to be healthy to study and learn things properly, I thought I could start a thread on this topic. 🙂

According to some research chronic exposure to stress hormones, particularly cortisol can shrink your brain, particularly on hippocampus via cell death leading to significant memory and cognitive problems. Here and here are a nice summaries on all awful effects of stress on our health.

Good news is that it can be reversible according to some research as reviewed here and here .

And this article here gives nice tips as to how to reduce stress and hopefully avoid these consequences if you wish to look: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201208/how-prevent-stress-shrinking-your-brain where one of my favorite photos is:



What do you all think on these matters and What would be your advise to reduce stress further and What other things do you recommend to keep our brains healthy?

19 replies

Userlevel 5
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On how to keep your brain healthy;
  • I think one should avoid stress,
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise often
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Rest often
A healthy body has a healthy brain! Anything that affects the heart affects the brain because the brain needs oxygen from the blood to function well.
Userlevel 5
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I haven't read the links you shared. I'll read them later. Please do bear with me.
@Denise Thank you for highlighting these important findings. It is really good to know that those types of damages could be reversible.
In my experience, getting enough sleep is a key factor, so I try to go to bed at about the same time every night. Also, it is important to avoid making heavy to-do lists. It could create a persistent sense of pressure.
Thank you @Terry and @Maryam , these are really helpful tips. Sleep, rest and exercise are classic things most of us probably cut out first when we have certain deadlines to rush into, which is not really ideal... Thank you for reminding us to keep them as priorities.

My quick additions to those tips on reducing stress further -if you wish to stop pulling your hair out, of course- would also include: a- to avoid listening too much bad news considering all going around the World and b-to avoid dwelling on things that you cannot control since according to some research that increases your cortisol levels too.

Any more comments, additions? Please feel free to discuss. 🙂
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@Terry Like about eight years ago, when i was yoinger, I used to play a lot of Sudoku games and came to a point when i used to solve it in 3 minutes duration on average. That made my brain to think fast and make quick decisions. I used to play play station which i think is good for igniting creativity as well as outdoor games. When I became a little bigger, I started volunteering and working as Mentor for courses became my passion. Although, I still play chess game with fellow players on messenger and win on most ocassions and at other times read newspapers that make me aware about the latest.
Userlevel 2
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Terry wrote:

On how to keep your brain healthy;

  • I think one should avoid stress,
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise often
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Rest often
A healthy body has a healthy brain! Anything that affects the heart affects the brain because the brain needs oxygen from the blood to function well.


@Terry I completely agree with you on the points you raised except avoiding stress. Is it really possible to avoid stress? If it is possible, how then can stress be avoided?
Userlevel 5
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@Mohammad Sameer Hasan, nice one 👍🏻
Yes , I know healthy exercises and games are good for the body and brain as well.
Thank you for your contributions. 🙏🏻
Userlevel 4
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@Terry You are most Welcome! 😀
Userlevel 5
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Tobie wrote:


Terry wrote:

On how to keep your brain healthy;

  • I think one should avoid stress,
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise often
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Rest often

A healthy body has a healthy brain! Anything that affects the heart affects the brain because the brain needs oxygen from the blood to function well.

@Terry I completely agree with you on the points you raised except avoiding stress. Is it really possible to avoid stress? If it is possible, how then can stress be avoided?


@Tobie, yes stress can be avoided, dealt with, managed, reduced, overcomed, etc. through the following ways:
  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi for stress management.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively.
  • Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
  • Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don't rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors to reduce stress.
  • Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you enjoy.
  • Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.
  • Stop striving for perfection. We should always push ourselves to do our best, but we also need to realize when the job we've done is good enough. Set time limits on yourself if you find yourself being a perfectionist.
These and more are ways by which one can handle (avoid, deal with, manage, reduce, overcome, etc.) stress.
Hope this helps 😊
Userlevel 2
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@Terry Thanks. Yes, it helps a lot.
Userlevel 5
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@Tobie, you are welcome. I'm glad it does.
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I keep a journal, every day. I track how I'm feeling, what I've eaten and what I'm thankful for. It's brought me through depression/anxiety and I can make sure I'm on the right track, for me. Having a 2 1/2 year old little boy also keeps me active, mentally and physically!
Userlevel 5
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Maryam wrote:

@Denise Thank you for highlighting these important findings. It is really good to know that those types of damages could be reversible.
In my experience, getting enough sleep is a key factor, so I try to go to bed at about the same time every night. Also, it is important to avoid making heavy to-do lists. It could create a persistent sense of pressure.



Ahhh, I am always making to do lists, perhaps I should go easier on myself with that one!
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@Terry "Stop striving for perfection."

This is so important, I think people who are very academic or study STEM subjects can be much more competitive, which is not always a bad thing. But it is important to know how to set achievable goals.

At university I learnt to stop comparing myself to other students, and just work on improving on my previous results. When your goal is to just be a little bit better each day, it is much more achievable.

It is so hard to stay motivated if you keep thinking about the big end goal and how far away that might be, small achievable goals are the way to go!
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@Liz, I agree with you totally. Competition is excellent only when it is healthy. Unhealthy ones can lead to so many unfathomable evil. Comparison is even milder than the unthinkable/unspeakable things unhealthy competition has caused.
Keeping your brain healthy doesn’t always need to be about academic endeavors. Enjoy the artistic/ creaside of yoir brain too! You don’t need to be really talented to engage in music, art, poetry or theater. This is the problem many people have, thinking they lack talent so they stay away.

It’s fun to try to make something even of it doesn’t come out well. In my neighborhood they have something called “wayercolors amd wine” where people get together to do watercolor paintings and sip wine. People enjoy it because they are engaging in a relaxing art and don’t care about what it looks like. Knitting, crocheting, and other crafts are also relaxing and fun. I enjoy making beaded necklaces with matching earrings.

Learning to play a musical instrument is such a good thing to do for your whole self! Even if you never get good enough to play with others, just the act of practicing and playing and doing what yiou enjoy feels so good!
I have known many adults who enjoy learning music as an adult.
The “Arts” are all wonderful ways to stimyiur brain and stimulate your heart. Why don’t you try one today?
Yes, considering what you all wrote, I agree about filling our to do list filled with achievable goals @Maryam @Terry @Liz @CherylA87 . Perhaps, one can determine the big goal, they would like to run towards to fulfill their dream and think of the steps as to how they could get there. Making those steps small and achievable could be one of the ways to reduce the big heavy burden and alleviate stress. As you complete those steps, you could tick them off and one day you would see that you are living the dream! 🙂
Any more ideas?
Thank you @Judith for highlighting the fun side of keeping our brains healthy! Yes, I totally agree, even if we may think we may not be talented on some craft, giving it a try is always healthy to stimulate the brain and adding fun and increasing the "happiness" hormones like dopamine, endorphins, etc. in our brain! Also, studies show that when we are into such creative crafts, our brains in the background can be working on some other emotional issue or a problem we are trying to solve. And the answers we may be seeking or the healing we might need from some emotional pain, could just come to us at the end of a creative session like playing an instrument or painting a picture, etc. It's like taking a good break I suppose to receive the "Eureka" moment! 🙂 Thank you for reminding me to pay attention to take up my musical instruments once again Judith! I certainly must as soon as possible! 🙂

Any other comments? Ideas?
Hello everyone,

I came across this talk on preventing Alzheimer's Disease by keeping our brains active, presented by Lisa Genova, who is a neuroscientist and an author : https://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_genova_what_you_can_do_to_prevent_alzheimer_s?language=en . I hope you like it too. Please let me know what you think about it. Thank you.

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