I sometimes feel like there’s a funny pause after I introduce myself as a brain health coach. It’s like people understand the words, but they just aren’t used to hearing them together. To be fair, it is a new thing.
Wait - what’s brain health again?
Of course everyone knows what a doctor is, and many people get that neurology specialists are experts in diseases of the brain. Most people are even catching on to the idea of coaching. But many of us aren’t used to thinking about our brain health per se.
As a primary care doctor for over thirty years, It’s been my job to talk to patients about taking preventive measures to protect their health: their heart health, their gut health, their breast health, their reproductive health. But it wasn’t until recently that I began to talk about brain health as being its own thing.
How my brain is working is how I am working, as me.
There are definitely a lot of complaints that we deal with in primary care that touch on brain health, like when people talk about feeling exhausted, not getting enough sleep and brain fog. And of course we hear about mental health problems, ranging from moodiness to major depression.
I define brain health as being our experience of our brain function, encompassing energy, alertness, focus, memory, processing speed. I think of it as being like how well my computer is working.
Sum of our parts
I feel like we don’t think about our brain health as being separate from our overall health, because of course our minds are integral to who we are. It’s like how my brain is working is how I am working, as me.
But somehow my identity as me isn’t so much my brain as my body and my mind. It’s like I’ve internalized our modern health paradigm that’s always trying to break me up into my component parts. My heart, lungs, joints, and so on. And when it comes to the brain, we break it down into brain and nerve conditions like Parkinson’s disease or carpal tunnel syndrome, and mental disorders like anxiety and bulimia.
And while it’s been incredibly valuable to be able to study and learn by separating out organ systems and diseases, we intuitively get that we are so much more than the sum of our parts.
How’s your computer working?
Turns out that we all need to do a few critical, non negotiable things to keep our laptop or devices running well, like good power, internet signal, as well as hardware components like keyboard, mouse, etc.
And there are a lot of things that can slow our computers down like when the battery is drained or when we’ve inadvertently picked up a virus or malware. Sometimes a bit of trauma from a fall or spill is salvageable, and sometimes it’s “Game Over” for that device.
Our brains also rely on some critical care elements. Like sleep, nutrients, and movement. And they work better when we take care of ourselves by working on relationships and stress management. There are a few things we can do to specifically protect and nurture brain health, but mostly brain care is self care.
Taking care of our brains
I guess that the other reason I didn’t think about my brain health much is because it seemed so protected. Inside my thick bony skull, cushioned from shocks in its bath of cerebrospinal fluid, behind its thick membranes and blood brain barrier. It felt kind of like a black box. Mysterious, wondrous, untouchable.
And actually it IS wondrous. The fastest, most powerful supercomputers can not yet touch this miracle of Mother Nature that sits between our ears. I’m learning that it’s so well protected exactly because it’s so very fragile.
I’m on a mission to spread the word about brain health. To demystify the neuroscience, to help us all experience better brain function, and to share how lifestyle choices can now prevent devastating brain conditions like dementia in the future.
If you are interested in building Better Brain Health for yourself, check out my free Quick Start Workbook HERE. and sign up for the waitlist for the next round of my Optimal Brain Performance mastermind!