Maintaining good brain health is key to a long and healthy life. Theories about what brain health looks like and how to achieve it abound, but there are some straightforward ideas about how to keep your mind sharp and well cared for that don’t depend on those theories. Here are seven habits to implement in your life that will help you keep your brain healthy.
1. Stay Well Rested
Your entire body needs rest, including your brain. Whether you’re a night owl or a morning person, getting plenty of sleep is essential for your whole body. While your other organs slow down during sleep and your body goes into “rest mode,” your brain does not shut off. While you sleep, you dream, you heal, and you prepare. Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to gain the full benefits of sleep so that they can perform their best each day.
Did you know that sleep issues can be addressed in therapy? You can search your area to find a therapist near you, then filter your results by Common Specialty > All other issues > Sleep Disorders.
2. Stay Active
An active lifestyle is also key to good brain health. Staying active helps your brain produce the hormones it needs to fuel the rest of your body. Physical activity encourages your body to produce hormones that promote brain health and improve your mood. While you do not need to exercise constantly to achieve good brain health, many experts recommend including exercise in your daily routine to increase blood flow and keep you healthy.
3. Pay Attention to Your Body
Your body will give you signals if your brain health is not quite right. This could include symptoms of vitamin deficiency. For example, if you feel foggy and tired during the winter months, you might have low vitamin D levels. Talking to your doctor about these symptoms can help you get what you need to achieve a healthy mind and body.
4. Stay Hydrated
Our bodies need water to function. When we are dehydrated, our brains are not at their best. According to a 2018 study from Georgia Tech, cognitive functioning decreases with dehydration, with noticeable effects within as little as two hours. Be intentional about your water consumption will promote brain health and support the rest of your body, too.
5. Find Balance
The concept of work-life balance is something we’ve all heard of. Still, sometimes we forget that healthy balance in our lives could look very different depending on our circumstances. Figuring out what balance looks like for you right now, and being curious and adaptive about changes that need to be made down the line, can help you flourish. Be mindful of all the aspects of your life that need to be in balance (it’s not all about work and home – rest, friends, self-care, a hobby, spirituality, the outdoors can all be pieces of the pie as well). By appropriately devoting time and attention to what you value, you can relieve stress and allow your brain to engage with the world in a multitude of ways.
6. Stimulate Your Brain
Your brain needs exercise just like the rest of your body. Brain games, puzzles, critical thinking, learning new things, hobbies, memorization, brain training, and reading can all function as brain exercises.
7. Care for Your Mental Health
Mental health is vital for keeping our brains healthy. If you have symptoms of depression or anxiety, or if you feel you cannot slow your brain down, we advise you to talk to a mental health professional. A mental health professional can guide you in developing skills and strategies to help you achieve a healthy mind.
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