PLANTING S.E.E.D.S – OUR BRAINS FOUNDATION – Dr. John B Arden (summary of key concepts by Melissa McIntosh)
Dr. John Arden recently retired as the Director of Training for Mental Health for the Northern California Region in the Kaiser Permanente healthcare system and has over forty years of experience providing psychological services and directing mental health programs. He has authored fourteen books on the subject of psychology and neuropsychotherapy and remains one of the foremost theorisers of the science.
Dr. John Arden has identified five basic needs critical for optimal brain function. Not unlike the body, the brain continues to grow and change throughout its life depending on how it is used and how it is maintained. Forming the acronym S.E.E.D.S, they are social connectivity, exercise, education, diet, and sleep.
S: Social Connectivity
Advances in neurobiology have emphasised the importance of having many significant relationships with others. The human brain was designed to hold varying levels of kinship with other people, and there are proven adverse effects for neglecting this need. Long-term social isolation has been linked to a weakened immune system, higher levels of depression and anxiety, and even an increased risk of dementia.
Humans evolved as long-distance pursuit hunters, and even today we retain an inbuilt need for exercise. This does not necessarily mean daily visits to the gym, however it is highly beneficial for the mind as well as the body to have at least thirty minutes of heightened cardiac activity most days. Even that small level of activity promotes the formation of new neurons in the brain, and naturally combats the effects of anxiety.
Continuous learning is proven to be one of the most effective ways to delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Learning is the process of forming new connections within the brain, and the more it has managed to create the longer they will take to degrade as they age ( a concept described as “neural reserve”).
As cliché as it sound, you do get out what you put in. The brain creates the chemicals it needs to function from the fuel it is given, and not all that fuel is equal. By engaging in a diet disproportionately made of simple carbohydrates, fried food, or even missing meals altogether, you will inadvertently be starving your brain of the material it needs to function to its full capacity.
A functional, natural sleep is a natural deterrent for depression and anxiety, as well as a critical component of overall brain function, neural regeneration, recovery & memory consolidation. While medication can be used when absolutely necessary for sleep, it will never be as restful as if it had occurred naturally, as the brain will be inhibited from cycling through its needed natural processes.
From our own research as well as Dr. Arden’s neurobiological studies, we enthusiastically endorse the S.E.E.D.S concept. It is our eager recommendation that employers utilise it to facilitate the well-being of their employees in their daily lives.