This week, March 16-22, is Brain Awareness Week, a program launched by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. This is the twentieth anniversary of Brain Awareness Week. Because Alzheimer’s and other brain issues have impacted my family, I thought the week was worthy of mention—it is an opportunity to recognize advances in brain science and think about how to keep our brains healthy.
Participants around the world this week are holding open days at neuroscience labs, exhibitions about the brain, lectures on brain-related topics, social media campaigns, displays at libraries and community centers, classroom workshops, and other activities designed to promote awareness of brain science and health.
One fun exercise would be to download the brain puzzles available at on the Dana Alliance website.
Nevertheless, my research indicates that not all organizations are on the same page when it comes to recognizing Brain Awareness Week. Although the National Parkinson’s Foundation celebrates this week, the Alzheimer’s Association recognizes June as Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association has a big fundraiser focused on “the longest day” on June 21, in recognition that Alzheimer’s Disease has been called “the long good-bye”.
And in the United Kingdom, Dementia Awareness Week is May 17-23 this year.
So around the world, there are many opportunities throughout the year to reflect on how important our brains are.
We often hear the mantra of body, mind, and spirit. All three components are important to making each of us the unique individuals we are. And we know how interconnected they are—the physical, the mental, and the spiritual together make up personality. Identical twins with the same physiques can have different personalities. Friends who look very different can be quite similar in their outlooks on life.
In addition to reflecting on the importance of our brain, we can work to keep our brains healthy. The National Parkinson’s Foundation website touts “8 Steps to a Healthy Brain”, which are
2. Eat healthy
3. Work your brain
4. Stay social
5. Manage stress
6. Get enough sleep
7. Keep track of medications and supplements
8. Avoid illicit drugs and excessive alcohol consumption
These are good recommendations for anyone wanting a healthy brain, and worth thinking about any week of the year. I need to work on getting more sleep and managing stress. All the travel I’ve been doing across time zones has wreaked havoc on my body, and thus my mind.
Which of the eight steps do you need to improve? What do you cherish most about your mind?