How pushing yourself outside the comfort zone can enhance your brain power

Dynamic neurologist and best selling author, Dr Sweta Adatia explains how we can ‘romance’ our brains to push it beyond its comfort zone and get the best possible results

By Zenifer Khaleel

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Published: Thu 23 May 2024, 9:58 PM

Did you know that although your brain is the most powerful organ in the body, it prefers not to expend energy? In fact, it thrives in its comfort zone. However, pushing it beyond that zone leads to tremendous growth and success. Dr. Sweta Adatia, a pioneering neurologist currently heading the Neurology Department at Gargash Hospital in Dubai, advocates this principle, which she affectionately calls ‘romancing the brain’.

“There are no ‘good’ brains or ‘bad’ brains, only prepared and unprepared ones. The brain is a very plastic organ that can adapt and expand. By channelling the powers of your brain, habits can be changed, skills can be learned, and lives can be transformed,” she says.

Over the years, her impressive career has taken her across five continents. Her medical journey began in Mumbai, India, followed by a fellowship in paralytic stroke from Calgary, Canada. She is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians and has been awarded 13 gold medals in various subjects. Her mission became to share her knowledge with the public, enabling them to become the best versions of themselves. “Brain mapping is particularly beneficial for students, corporations, and the community at large to understand their life directions.”

Dr Sweta Adatia
Dr Sweta Adatia

Coming to UAE in 2015, she went on to become the Medical Director of RAK Hospital and did groundbreaking work in brain mapping through her cutting-edge ‘Limitless Brain Lab’ in Dubai. The process started way back in 2011 when she felt she needed validation for her career choice. In her research, she did about 75 psychometric tests on herself and started to develop her own tool called ‘My Brain Design’. It aims to help students with subject choices, career paths, post college choices and performance levels, understanding relationships, business choices etc.

Her book, Future Ready Now, released last year, became an Amazon bestseller in the counselling category. “The intricate patterns of thinking and the brain can be as complex as a spider’s web. Our approach simplifies this complexity, offering easy, hands-on assessments that reveal your brain’s strengths and priorities,” she says “This simplification allows you to gain a clear understanding of your cognitive abilities and how to leverage them effectively.”

Today’s education system pressures young students to make critical decisions about their future at just 13, often leaving them clueless. Post-college life is equally perplexing, with many struggling to plan for a successful and fulfilling future. The My Brain Design Method identifies the brain’s thinking potential through a digital, hands-on assessment via an app, providing tailored career options with an accuracy rate exceeding 85 per cent. It exposes students to over 800 career options through an engaging swipe-right or left method.

“Recognising the unique strengths of each individual and guiding them to leverage these strengths effectively is the essence of My Brain Design,” Dr. Adatia explains. Since 2011, she has collaborated with Dr. Kobus Neethling (a leader in whole-brain thinking) and serves as their master trainer for the Middle East.

She is also working on an app called Zebra, the basis of which is the whole brain thinking technique as per the book Future Ready Now. To be launched in 2025, the app will feature a self-administered, seemingly simple questionnaire with profound outcomes.

Dr. Adatia is a proponent of multi-sensory stimulation for brain health, advocating for activities that engage various senses to promote brain growth and prevent atrophy(brain loss). She emphasises the role of continuous learning and adaptation in maintaining brain health and avoiding the pitfalls of technological dependency.

Being a lifelong learner, her mantra is “if you rest, you rust”.

Coming to the biggest debate of our times, Dr Sweta is quick to assert that it will be a long time before AI completely takes over human intelligence. “AI mixes a lot of data and puts it out. However, the brain has its sensory phenomenon — ability to smell, touch, see, feel, and, most importantly, the soft emotional aspects of it. It’s too soon to say that AI is going to be even competing with human intelligence. Yes, it will take away all the mundane and repetitive tasks. But I don’t think it will ever replace the human thought process.”

The growing dependence on technology can reduce brain activity, potentially leading to atrophy or decreased cognitive capacity. Keeping the brain stimulated is crucial for maintaining its health. Passive consumption, like mindlessly scrolling through social media, can lead to “digital dementia”, a condition characterised by cognitive decline due to overreliance on digital devices. This problem is exacerbated by factors like genetics, environmental toxins, stress, and inadequate sleep. The brain’s glymphatic system, active during sleep, helps clear out toxins, and poor sleep disrupts this process, contributing to rising dementia rates.

“To counteract these effects, my simple advice is to engage in multi-sensory activities,” says Dr Sweta. “Instead of online shopping, go to the grocery yourself and see, feel and smell the product. This will stimulate your brain in a million ways. Walking, communing with nature, travelling, and continuous learning stimulate the brain, help maintain cognitive function and delay the onset of dementia,” she says.

A simple approach proposed by her is the MOVERS method:

M: Meditation

O: Ocean breathing or other breathing exercises

V: Visualisation

E: Exercise

R: Reading affirmations

S: Scribing (writing negative emotions)

“The brain is the most fascinating creation and it never ceases to amaze me,” concludes Dr Sweta. “If you practise the MOVERS method for 15 minutes daily with at least five minutes of meditation, your brain will be sharp and healthy. You will contribute much more to your human capacity and make this world a better place to live in.”

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