A now well-researched field of study is how the brain thinks. It has been found that the ‘Default Mode Network’ of the brain, which we think of as mind-wandering or daydreaming, plays an important role in our learning and performance.
The brain needs space – or ‘daydreaming’ time – to process information, consolidate, create new pathways connecting information and to come up with ideas. This is done through the brain’s ‘downtime’ where we are less focused – but in the online, screen-heavy, information age we now live in, our brains get little respite from stimuli and do not have the necessary time to process it all!
Think about how you stimulate the brain all day in your own life – from meetings and conversations, to sitting at the computer, to listening to the radio or a podcast on your commute home, to turning on the t.v. or checking your phone while you go about the evening activities… but processing and retention of all this information in order to make it useful requires ‘space’ – and often we only get downtime in our sleep or in the bathroom – this is why we say we get our ‘best ideas in the shower’!
For your children, the school year is so busy with all kinds of activities, information and expectations… so the Christmas holidays are the perfect time to decompress – not only to help stress levels and build family relationships, but also to aid brain health and productivity for the new year ahead!
How can you encourage your family to take time away from screens and give the brain time to catch up? This has a lot to do with creating time in the day for ‘brain space’, and practicing experiencing the moment you are in. You could try:
- Time for unstructured play – let your children use their imaginations!
- ‘Quiet’ time – whether that is sitting and talking quietly together, listening to music, or trying a simple meditation or mindfulness exercise
- Time outdoors in nature; playing with pets
- Physical or manual activities that allow your mind to wander, such as craft or cooking
While it’s not easy to pull kids (or ourselves) away from screens, it starts with fostering family values around giving our brains a break and spending quality time with each other, ourselves, and nature.
We hope your brain enjoys some space these holidays J