Everybody wants to be happy, healthy and smart and many believe that taking care of our body will get us there. But a healthy body is not enough. Maintaining a healthy brain is the best way to a happy, productive and successful life.
The things we do everyday have a significant impact on our mental and neurological health and our daily routine has the power to stimulate our brain and improve brain power, strengthen our focus, attention and memory and can even influence our mood.
We can enhance our brain’s ability to perform at its best through exercise and proper nutrition, but in order to continue to stay sharp and alert, we have to engage in complex tasks that require multi-level thinking on a regular basis.
Let’s have a look at our TOP 10 habits that keep our brain active, fresh and healthy.
We all know that exercise is good for our body, but physical activity is also clearly linked to a healthy brain and improved cognitive function. Studies show that people who workout on a regular basis have a greater brain volume, improved memory and thinking skills and a reduced risk of dementia. Physical activity is also linked to support generating new neurons in our hippocampus, which is the area of our brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Include a variety of different exercises into your routine, like strength training, swimming, yoga, cycling… to give your mind an added challenge to stay active.
#2 Change Your Diet
While diet seems to be a major trend in today’s society, most people associate diet with the goal to lose weight. However, weight loss diets can often times negatively impact the brain because of their restrictive nature. The best way to change your diet to give your brain health a boost is to reduce sugar and simple carbohydrate intake and drink lots of water. Add brain-healthy nutrients like healthy fats and proteins, high-fiber carbohydrates and low glycemic foods and your brain will thank you for it.
Our life can be very hectic and stressful, so finding time to give your brain a break and find some peace and quiet can be hard to come by. Start a daily meditation practice to deal with all the stressors in your life and help calm an anxious mind. Studies link meditation to an increased brain volume in certain areas of your cerebral cortex as well as a decreased volume in your brain’s amygdala, which is responsible for anxiety and fear. Meditation is also very useful in connecting different areas of the brain and helps to sharpen your concentration and focus.
#4 Listen to Classical Music
We’ve mentioned the power of music in previous blog articles. Because of the frenetic pace of our lives and crazy busy schedules and a multitude of projects we are trying to handle at the same time, focus and concentration is challenging for most of us. Studies show that people who listen to classical music improve their ability to focus and concentrate and even elevate their social skills. So put on some Mozart and get laser sharp focus.
#5 Learn Something New Every Day
Learning something new keeps your brain stimulated and revitalized and it breaks up your daily routine. Even Einstein said that if you spend 15 minutes a day learning something new, you’d be an expert in a year and in five years you’d even be a national expert. Keep your mind active and make it a point to devote some time every single day to learn something new. Like Einstein mentioned, it only takes 15 minutes a day and we’re sure you can find that time somewhere.
#6 Challenge Your Mind with Books
One of the easiest ways to stay mentally sharp is to read thought provoking books that stretch your imagination and challenge your mind. Whatever sparks your interest, whether that’s an inspiring autobiography, or an entertaining way to learn about science, economy or philosophy, read books that make you think and get your creative juices going.
Our brain works 24/7 and it never sleeps. However, if you don’t sleep the recommended 7 to 9 hours daily, sleep deprivation will take a toll on your cognitive health. Studies show that not getting enough sleep leads to poor attention and focus, decreased cognitive function, and makes it difficult to think creatively and learn. Sleep has the ability to energize you, improve your immune system and mood and is a major factor in stress management.
Social interactions with family and friends is very important for your brain health. Studies show that those who have the most interaction with their network and community show the slowest rate of memory decline. Take time out of your busy day to devote some quality time to friendships and relationships. Those face-to-face interactions improve your mood, help you relieve stress and inspire new ideas.
#9 Take Fish Oil
We know that sugar is bad for our brain health. Studies show that sugar disrupts brain plasticity, meaning the creation of fresh, new pathways between brain cells as well as the production of new brain cells. Interestingly enough, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil seem to have the ability to reverse some of this damage. The best way is to get omega-3 fatty acids from food (with fatty fish like salmon for example) as capsules may not be as effective.
#10 Stay Positive
The most dangerous thing to your brain health are negative thoughts. Negative thoughts happen to the best of us, they pop up without us even being aware of them. But if we don’t become aware of them and let them fester in our mind, it’s a sure way to harm our brain in the long run. Whenever you realize that a negative thought enters your mind, replace it with the exact opposite, positive thought. Or remember that you have 60 to 70,000 thoughts every single day and just label it as a negative thought and let it go. Another great way to deal with negative thoughts is to simply stop them. Acknowledge the thought, but don’t give it energy to grow. A negative thought will only gain power over you, if you hold on to it.
The brain is our most precious organ and it works hard 24/7, so it is essential that we take extra special care of it and do everything in our power to keep it healthy. Practicing these daily habits will not only refresh our mind instantly, it will also protect our brain in the long run. Get motivated to improve your brain health, it is too valuable an asset to waste.
IMAGINE A WORLD IN WHICH WE ALL LIVED UP TO OUR POTENTIAL
Joschi & Monika