Don’t forget to feed your mind this winter.

When I think of winter, one of the first things that comes to mind is enjoying warm, hearty food in front of a fire with a glass of red. Although mum’s roast with duck-fat potatoes and gravy certainly does put a smile on my face when it’s cold outside, I want to talk about something else we should be feeding equally as much this winter.

Our brain.

The brain physically changes in size and density depending on how and what we ‘feed’ it. By choosing to feed it well, it could mean seeing a few more winters.

Here are a few simple snacks your brain will love.

  1. Meditation

Yes I may be a bit biased suggesting this being a meditation teacher. However there’s now too much supporting evidence to ignore meditation and the benefits it can bring you. I’m not going to tlist these benefits here as I’m sure we’ve all heard them a few too many times now.

Instead, I wanted to suggest a couple of tips to try when/if you decide to give it another go.

Firstly, try a few different types. We all process information and respond differently. It’s pretty rare you’re going to find a meditation practice that resonates with you straight away.

To make it simple for you, here are the main types to try out;

  • Vedic
  • Vipassana
  • TM (very similar to Vedic)
  • Body Scanning
  • Kundalini
  • Sound Healing

In an eight week study where participants meditated every day, they found an increase in cortical thickness of the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory. In certain areas of the brain that play roles in regulating emotion and self-referential processing.

  1. Read

In a world of 15-second video clips and quick ‘thumbs up’ recognitions, it seems that reading a full book from cover-to-cover is becoming a rarity. However, there have always been reasons why blocking out substantial periods for reading is worth your time.

Researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function.

Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that’s similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports.

  1. Practise gratitude

We’ve probably all heard the suggestion to write three things down that you’re grateful for every day. And iturns out there’s more of a scientific reason why you should put pen to paper to give thanks.

It causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus.

In short, just like Prozac, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.

  1. Digital detox

Again, I’m sure you’ve been told to go on a digital detox at some point but it’s a lot easier said than done when everywhere we go we’re surrounded by technology. But even small breaks from the screen can be beneficial.

A proven suggestion is to cut down on your screen time before bed.

It’s known that 90 per cent of us admit to using some type of a technological device during the hour before bed, but this reduces the total amount of REM sleep we need. Over time, it can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.

So if you go to bed around 10:30pm try to put your phone on flight-mode and not look at it after 9:30pm.

Surely that email isn’t worth knocking a few years off your life.

Luke Mcleod is a meditation a teacher and the founder of Soul Alive. Follow him on Instagram @luke.mcleod

Want more expert advice on how to get healthy over winter? Look no further than bodyandsoul.com.au’s Hit Refresh 2019 Winter Edition, which runs for the whole of July. You’ll find smart tips and action plans for refreshing your nutrition, fitness, mindset and beauty… and much more!