Skip to Main Content

Talking About Mental Health: April 2019

Throughout the school year, UGDSB Mental Health and Addiction Lead Jenny Marino shares tips and resources for improving our mental health and well-being. Additional mental health resources for students and parents/guardians can be found on the board website.

Jump-start your brain this spring

Did you know that you can actually boost your brain power and increase your focus, ability to concentrate and your overall sense of well-being?   So how do you do this?

Feed Your Brain:  Did you know your brain uses up to 20% of the calories that you take into your body? A well-balanced diet can provide your brain with much needed energy and increase your ability to focus and concentrate.  Some high-quality brain foods are blueberries, salmon, nuts, avocados and whole grains. As a family you can journal what you are eating and then engage in a conversation and reflect on what you are feeding your brain.

Get Quality Sleep:  It is estimated that approximately a third of school aged children in Canada are not getting the required amount of sleep.  Sleep actually restores the brain and supports memory, thinking and creativity. Try stopping screen time at least an hour before bed.  Don’t drink sugary or caffeinated drinks.  Is your brain getting enough recharge time?

Get Outside and Move:  Even just 20 minutes of walking can increase your brain power.  Try and charge your brain with fun, family-friendly exercise.  Walk around the neighbourhood and try and find all the spring buds and other signs of spring.  Try and count your steps for one minute – it’s not that easy! Fresh air, exercise and movement are all fuel for your brain.

Take a Mental Vacation:  Take three minutes and close your eyes imagining a place that you love or wish you could see. Focus on the smells, the sounds and sensations.  When we visualize something, our brains respond the same way as if we were actually there.  Just three minutes of a mental vacation can put your brain into “relax” mode. 

Be Creative:  Creativity can increase focus and sense of calm.  Pick a craft or project to do as a family.  Make a springtime collage of all things spring: images from magazines, words, drawings, items you find outside, etc.  Taking the time to engage your brain creatively will give your brain a boost.

Exercise Your Brain: Exercising your brain is as important as exercising your body. So how do you do this? Do a crossword puzzle or a word search.  Anything that gets your brain thinking and being strategic will do. Play a game of chess, make some origami art or even play hide and seek.  These activities may not feel like work, but they are doing great things for your brain.

And, as always, remember that there are many people who are struggling. Stay kind, be a good listener and talk to someone if you need support.

Jenny Marino is the Mental Health Lead for Upper Grand District School Board
Follow Jenny on Instagram @ugdsb_mental_health