The Collison Newsletter March 2011





We know that muscles need exercise to perform at peak levels. Your brain needs exercise, just like a muscle. Exercising the brain, often and in the right ways, will result in an increase in your ability to focus, and better learning, and you will become a more skilled thinker. Your ability to think and learn will deteriorate if you never exercise your brain or if you abuse it with harmful chemicals.


The following is based on postings ( by the Editor, Pick The Brain.

1)         Exercise 

Time spent exercising is not wasted. Exercising always leads to greater learning because it improves productivity during the time afterwards. Exercise clears the head and creates a wave of energy. Afterwards, you feel invigorated and can concentrate more easily.

2)         Minimise Television Watching 

Watching television does not use your mental capacity or allow you to recharge. It is like having the energy sapped out of a muscle without the health benefits of exercise.


When you feel like relaxing, try reading a book instead of watching TV. If you are too tired, listen to some music. When you are with family or friends, leave the TV off and have a conversation. All these things use your mind more than television and allow you to relax.

3)         Read Challenging Books 

If you want to improve your thinking and writing ability, you should read books that make you focus. Reading a classic novel can change your view of the world and make you think in more precise and elegant English. Look up words you do not know in a dictionary. Take your time and reread when necessary. The challenge of learning new ideas is far more exciting and satisfying than escape suspense-thriller reading (although there is a place for light fiction to ‘escape’ and relax).

4)         Have Adequate Sleep 

Nothing makes it harder to concentrate than sleep deprivation. ‘Early to bed, and early to rise’ is a positive way forward. You will be most rejuvenated if you go to bed early and don’t sleep more than about eight hours. If you stay up late and compensate by sleeping late, or still have to get up early, you will wake lethargic and have trouble focussing. Waking up early, and getting up early after adequate sleep, gives you more productive hours and maximises your mental acuity all day.


If during the day you are hit with a wave of drowsiness, and you have the opportunity, take a 10-20 minute nap. Anything longer will make you lethargic, but a short nap will refresh you.

5)         Turn off your Mobile (Cell) Phone and Email 

Learn that it is okay to turn off your mobile (cell) phone and email. Reflective thought and deep reading take time, time that should not be interrupted by having to take phone calls, respond to text messages or the beep of an incoming email. It is acceptable to be unreachable for some time during the day.

6)         Cultivate Friendships 

Cultivate friendships with people, especially those who think differently to you. It is stimulating to talk to those who have a different expertise or a different profession to you. Learn from them, as they learn from you and your expertise and experiences.

7)         Broaden your Horizons 

Get outside your own culture and restricted environment through travel, social gatherings etc.

8)         Take Time to Reflect 

Often our lives are so hectic that we become overwhelmed, without even recognising it. It becomes difficult to concentrate because our overactive mind and nagging thoughts keep interrupting. Spending some quality time alone in reflection will give you a chance to organise your thoughts and prioritise your life and responsibilities. Afterwards, you will have a better understanding of what is important and what isn’t. The unimportant things won’t bother you any more and your mind will feel less encumbered. One way to achieve this is to take a solitary walk (which also gives some exercise). It has been said “All the best ideas occur while walking”.

9)         Do Less Better 

There is always another project that we have to rush into, often never finishing the one we are doing. Just say “no” to some projects and focus on a few, the ones identified (see point 8) as important and worthwhile.

10)     Seek a Balance 

Exercise is good. So is reading. So is relaxation. So is some limited TV, such as the news. Sleep is good. It is worthwhile, when possible, to blend activities. For example, go for a long walk that ends up at a coffee shop where the paper can be read or a book, or just stare out the window and meditate.


None of the above are revolutionary. Simple suggestions are often the most valid. The challenge is having the will and discipline to adhere to them.


If you succeed in following the above suggestions, or at least some of them, you will be rewarded with increased mental acuity and retention of knowledge.


*Copyright 2011: The Huntly Centre.


Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.



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