When thinking about overall health, thoughts of diet and exercise come to mind. But brain health can sometimes be neglected. It is important to exercise the mind, as it too, is a muscle that requires strengthening. Mental health is important to your overall well-being, so give your grey matter a boost with these tenets of a healthy mind.
Good news! Keeping your brain healthy involves eating and eating good food at that. Studies have shown that antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids naturally found in certain types of food can actually help protect your brain. Salmon, walnuts, avocados, berries and dark leafy greens are some of the best brain-fueling foods you can eat.
Aerobic exercise is vital to both physical and mental health. When the heart rate is raised, blood is pumped to the brain more efficiently, making vital blood-borne nutrients more readily available to the brain tissue. Also, “it promotes the secretion of certain molecules called neurotropic factors, which help the brain grow, repair and maintain neurons.”
Try new things! Variety, challenge, and novelty are essential to brain function and stimulate your brain in significant ways. Start with simple challenges, finish the crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper, pick up the ukulele, or take a painting class to get your neurons firing.
Maintaining a social network aids in intellectual stimulation, combating depression, and reducing stress. Studies have shown that people with more social interaction experience the slowest rate of memory decline and age-related cognitive impairment. Go play a game of golf with friends, spend time with your loved ones, or learn something new about a neighbor to boost your brain and improve your social life.
Our brains are constantly flooded and often overwhelmed with the stresses of everyday life, inducing high cortisol levels. An influx in these levels leads to impaired memory and decreased cognitive sharpness. In order to ease this tension on the brain, add meditation and relaxation as an intentional part of your day. By spending 15 to 60 minutes of focused attention on breathing and calmness, your brain will have a chance to recharge and relax, before re-entering the constant stimuli of life.