How Does a Neurosurgeon Keep His Brain Healthy?

There is quite a bit of stigma attached to being a Neurosurgeon, a person whose occupation is presumed to be at the higher end of the intellectual spectrum in our society.

One may ask then – How does a smart person maintain their “smarts” as they get older?

Personally speaking, I prefer to be mentally stimulated at all times (big surprise). Here are some of my many rituals to stay in the game:

  • I attempt to solve the New York Times Crossword puzzle each morning as soon as I wake up. The best part of the New York Times puzzle is that the Monday puzzle is the easiest and the Saturday puzzle is the hardest; Sunday is moderately difficult but much longer than the other puzzles. My favorite is the Thursday puzzle because there is usually a witty clue to solving the puzzle.
  • Exercise without music is another favorite part of my routine that allows my mind to “free roam” where I can usually solve many of my taxing problems.
    • Music is a distraction and working out in silence frees your mind from being forced to think about music. I usually ride my recumbent bicycle in silence.
  • Early morning reading is another favorite activity that I usually do on weekends. Getting up early before everyone else and while the house is quiet provides an hour+ of a pleasant reading environment.
  • During the Covid-19 pandemic, I started to do puzzles; usually 1,000 to 2,000 pieces. This is another great activity that allows you to solve a problem while also giving you quiet time to think about your current issues. Another chance for your brain to scatter focus.
  • I spend a lot of time in my car and usually have one Audiobook queued up for driving.
    • Audiobooks make it easier to finish a book; as soon as you turn on the car, your smartphone connects to the speaker system and picks up where you left off.
  • Although I do not maintain an active journal, I do have several active projects at any one time that occupy a significant amount of my time.
    • I do maintain a notebook where I write down ideas, new thoughts, and meeting notes.
  • In addition to the above, I try to maintain a normal diet. This includes a balance of healthy fats, proteins, and unprocessed carbohydrates. It’s ok to indulge once in a while – and I typically use the 80% / 20% rule.
    • I do not use vitamin supplements.

John M Abrahams, MD