Feed your Hippo

This is a Hippopotamus, and while I would love you to read this part of this article using the dulcet tones of the one and only David Attenborough, indulge me while I take you through a little bit of a nature walk.

First some context: In February this year – which seems like a million years ago- I joined a client at the Kruger National Park for a leadership training session and strategy. This was a great opportunity for the team to get to know each other and plan the way forward for 2020. I remember my excitement as we were staying at a lodge known for its frequent visits of Hippopotamus.

Now these chubby creatures may look like the “see cow” (a direct translation from Afrikaans) that they are and cute, but this is not the case. These animals are considered to be the world’s deadliest large land mammal.

These semiaquatic giants kill an estimated 500 people per year in Africa, according to the BBC. Hippos are highly aggressive and are well-equipped to deliver considerable damage to anything that wanders into their territory.

They are also known for their speed and resilience. It’s Ironic their collective noun is a “bloat”

so why am I going on about the Hippo then? Well in each of us we have a Hippo. I am talking about the Hippocampus. It is part of the mammalian brain and belongs to the limbic system. Humans and other mammals have two, one in each side of the brain. The Hippocampus is under the cerebral cortex. It is important in spatial memory and navigation and helps turn short-term memory into long-term memory and reserves our memories both long and short individually.

The Hippocampus needs to be taken care of and nurtured or else just like its almost name sake can turn on us quickly. Here are some ways to take care of and feed our Hippocampi:

1.    Exercise your brain

Do that crossword puzzle, learn that language, tackle the sudoku and stimulate your Hippocampus. learn a new skill and keep your Hippo happy with some healthy Hippo friendly exercise. There is a term called “Neuroplasticity” which basically means that the more you practice something new the better you become at it and the neurons in our brains grow and our Hippos become happy while we form new neuropaths.

2.     Put down the smart phone and device – only after reading this article

Unless said Hippo feeding activities are on the device, you are doing your Hippo no favours. It’s basically just sitting there in the dam with the rest of the “bloat” and, well, not growing. An unstimulated Hippocampus can lead to short – term memory loss and that feeling of “why did I come into this room?” could become more and more serious and not to scare you but more than just forgetting what you ate for dinner last night. A serious injury to the

Hippocampus can cause amnesia and permanent damage.

3.     Get more Sleep

Adults need between six to eight hours per night there is an art to sleeping, check out Arianna Huffington’s book called “The Sleep Revolution” and go and surprise yourself and some of her amazing do’s and don’ts about sleep and the bedroom. One of the things she mentions is: no tech in the room, including the cell phone. That’s a challenge for me, but I got to love my Hippo first.

4.     Eat Brain supporting foods

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Your Hippocampus not unlike its Hippopotamus

counterpart has some dietary requirements that are important to keep it stimulated and happy, these are super foods, here is the Happy Hippocampus list:

–       Fatty fish – omega 3 rich fish: Salmon etc

–       Blueberries

–       Turmeric – added to any dish is tasty

–       Broccoli – your parents were right

–       Pumpkin seeds

–       Dark chocolate

–       Nuts

–       Oranges

–       Eggs

So get going with these Hippocampus brain ready foods

5.     Meditate and chill man

Take a deep breath in and one very big exhale – this one makes your Hippocampus relax, recall and rejuvenate; mediation is the spa treatment for the brain. You don’t need to levitate

or reach nirvana, but just sit and “be” and breathe. Meditation is such an important part of what we need to keep our Hippocampus happy. I recommend reading Dan Harris’ 10% happier.

So if you want to know more about topics like the Hippocampus, neuroplasticity or the limbic system. Contact us at learn@thechangelab.co.za

Keep that Hippocampus happy!

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