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March is the month to think about brain health, says national campaign

"Take care of your brain, you only have one and it operates everything. Keep your gray matter sparkling,” said Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association executive director Glenda James
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The Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association is ready to share its knowledge of brain health for the month of March, as the national Brain Health Awareness campaign kicked off on March 2.

“It's a very important month because your brain is the most important one in your body, it runs the entire show,” said Glenda James, executive director of the SBIA. “So, take care of your brain, you only have one and it operates everything. Keep your gray matter sparkling.”

Practising proper brain health can be easy, said James, who shared a handful of tips to help keep one’s brain strong and functioning at peak capacity. 

For starters, James encourages everyone to be cognizant of safety and avoid potential brain injuries — this means things such as wearing a helmet in appropriate situations, securing equipment like ladders before climbing onto them, and being careful around places that are fall hazards, such as stairs. 

“Sometimes when we're working or playing, we don't follow our instincts and protect our heads, so it's important to think about that,” said James.

She also recommended other habits in one’s daily life that could be a small change making a big difference. Engaging in aerobic exercise keeps the brain sharp, while eating a diet that features healthy choices such as fruits, vegetables, and food rich in Omega-3 is beneficial to the brain. 

There are also other ways to flex your brain matter and keep it strong — such as listening to music, practising memorization exercises, reading a book, learning a new word or language, and even meditation.

Getting enough sleep is also important, as is making social connections and being involved with other people during social activities.
The SBIA will be sharing more tips for maintaining a healthy brain on its social media channels throughout the month, including Facebook and Instagram, and James hopes that people will take them to heart.

“Hopefully we can help people find just one new habit that's going to be healthy for their brain,” said James. “A summary (of our tips) would be to get out there and get engaged because that keeps your brain sharp.”

The SBIA largely focuses on providing services and supports for those affected by a brain injury, but that doesn’t mean it doesn't strongly advocate for continual brain health awareness. 

"We are a brain injury association that serves people with brain injuries, but quite frankly we're not looking for new members in the way that a service club is," said James. "It's an all-encompassing injury and we don't want people to get brain injuries and instead want them to have healthy brains."

In a brain health awareness partnership with the Saskatchewan Royal Purple Association, the SBIA is promoting a fundraising campaign this year for the month called BrainLove, to raise awareness and funds for educational purposes. 

Across Western Canada, Bootlegger locations will collect donations for its local brain associations, and for James, she hopes to see more businesses or groups get involved as well. 

For the SBIA and James, brain health should be such an important priority to everyone. 

“I think we all take our brain for granted because as it ticks away and we move or blink, we don't think about how that's our brain doing that," said James. "So we want people to be aware of their brain and more importantly, be a priority to keep it healthy."