Actionable Steps to Support Your Brain During Uncertainty by Dr Delia McCabe

  • Start and end the work day at the same time - even if that isn’t the same time as when you are at work physically. We have circadian clocks throughout our body and entraining them to a routine sets us up for optimal brain function and performance.
  • Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, for the same reasons as above.
  • Eat regularly and snack mindfully. Make yourself a lovely (and healthy) hot chocolate (recipe below) during one of your breaks. The aim is to keep your blood glucose levels stable to reduce blood glucose ups and downs, which stimulate adrenalin/cortisol release. You do this by ensuring each meal contains brain-supportive fats, nutrient-dense carbohydrates and clean protein.
  • Natural solutions to manage stress are physical activity, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and mineral rich foods, mindfulness and breathing optimally. Natural Vitamin C and magnesium may have roles to play too.
  • Establish a routine. This provides a sense of continuity to each day, a sense of purpose (with goals set each night), a sense of discipline to each day and at the end of the day, a sense of completion. This provides the brain with some sense of control and accomplishment.
  • When you get up each morning - or even better, before you go bed - make a list of three things (apart from your daily work responsibilities) that you need to accomplish. When the brain has a goal it feels better than when it’s aimless. Sometimes distracting yourself can work, just do so with constructive activities, versus Netflix. [You know you have a draw, shelf, or cupboard that needs sorting. Get to it!]
  • Work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. Focus and concentration can’t be maintained indefinitely - we need to shift our focus. Use an old fashioned timer if you have one, not your phone, as when it’s in your hands your habitual responses may override your best intentions.
  • Perspective is everything - this may seem like a daunting experience, but it’s also an opportunity to get back to basics and implement strategies that can enhance your physical and mental health long term, not just during this time. This may also be the perfect time to re-examine your values and priorities. The former influence the latter. 
  • Whether you’re a team leader at work or at home, you’re an example and need to keep that in mind - you can impact the mind-set and responses of your team by your behavior and mindset.
  • Stay mindful of the fact that humans are resilient and creative. By staying calm, reasonable versus reactionary, and compassionate we’ll get through this challenge, and be the stronger for it. 

Hot Chocolate SERVES 2–3

You’ll be surprised at how simple this decadent hot chocolate is to make. It’s actually a meal in itself!

4 tablespoons sugar-free cocoa, raw cacao or carob powder

1⁄4 cup cashew nuts or macadamia nuts

2 cups warmed coconut milk

3 large medjool dates, pitted

1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence (vanilla extract)

sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg, to serve sprinkle of raw cacao nibs, for added crunch

Add the cocoa, nuts, coconut milk, dates and vanilla to a blender and mix until smooth and thick. If you have a high-speed blender, the mixture will heat up nicely if you blend it for an extra minute. Otherwise, pour the mixture into a small saucepan, place it over a low heat and stir until hot.

Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon and raw cacao nibs. Serve immediately.


If you want to transform this hot chocolate into a cold treat, simply use ice-cold coconut milk instead and replace one of the cups of milk with ice cubes.


[Excerpt from ‘Feed Your Brain: 7 Steps to a Lighter Brighter You! by Delia McCabe] 

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