Because we can’t measure it, weigh it, or put it on the treadmill, we often fail to think of our mind as affected by physical considerations. But it is. A good student who is seeking to build a strong mind has to deal with this reality: your mind and body are connected. There is a strong correlation between your diet, sleep habits, and exercise and how “strong” your mind becomes. While physical aspects are only a part of the equation, they must be addressed at least briefly in this course.
The fast-paced, over-worked environment of college life is not conducive to good mind-building habits. Many college students forego good nutrition for what is fast and convenient. But there is a price to be paid for these decisions. Eating right is not just to make your mom happy, but it helps provide your busy brain with all it needs as well. The basic truths of good nutrition apply here. You need a good variety to your diet that supplies you with the essential nutrients your body needs to perform the complex chemistry of learning. Fruit and vegetables are the main sources for these. Simple carbohydrates in particular can actually be destructive to the brain’s health if eaten in excess. So be careful what you are feeding your brain. Consult a trained nutritionist if you are not sure about this area, or at least listen to your mom!
Getting enough sleep is also a key to good mind health. A sleepy brain will not function well. Because the brain is competing with the rest of your body for energy and rest, a growing body, like most college students have, is in need of rest right when so much opportunity is calling. Between school, extracurricular activity, and fun, there does not seem enough time in the day and night combined. But disciplining yourself and your schedule to allow for at least 8 hours of sleep each night is necessary if you wish to have a rested and healthy brain.
Finally, you need to exercise. Most freshmen in college note a significant increase in body weight just from suddenly becoming less active. More time in a chair reading or writing results in a sluggish mind, as well as a larger tummy. Getting your blood flowing by taking a break and going for a walk or run during your study time can greatly improve learning. A healthy body and a healthy mind are connected. Plan your schedule to include some good activity every day. Don’t let your studies go to waste because you don’t plan for the necessary physical care of your mind.
To finish this chapter, read this short article from the Wall Street Journal: