Updated: Dec 16, 2021
So often, when we think about supporting our bodies for a long and healthy life, we easily land on diet, weight management and exercise. It’s just that easy, right?? Beyond these typical areas, something that can be overlooked is brain health. Controlling all functions in our bodies, the brain is an essential component of our longevity. With even a small about of brain deterioration, which is common through aging, the risks for compromised health later in life increase.
The good news? There are some simple things you can start doing today which support what you’re already doing for your body. Research shows that the biggest components of a long, happy, healthy and vibrant life are social interaction, good diet, spirituality, sense of purpose and activity. Here are some tips for incorporating more of the good ‘brain food,’ into your life:
1. Start eating more antioxidant foods – blueberries (organic if available), avocadoes, walnuts, chocolate and green tea are some of the most potent antioxidant natural foods. Antioxidants combat free radicals in your body and brain, mitigating the causes of heart and brain disease, and cancer. So, if you’re looking for a reason to have that small bite of chocolate each night – here’s your why (go for at least 70% cocoa content).
2. Get SLEEP! This is going to be the biggest thing you can do for yourself! Getting 7-8 hours of sleep (the real, actual, good, deep sleep - time sitting in bed scrolling the internet doesn’t count) is critical to allowing your body to rest and recover from the rigors of the day. With quality sleep, your brain solidifies memory, your gut feeds your immune system, and the body repairs itself with new cells. It takes the body 6-8 hours to accomplish all this important work (and your body needs to be in a state of REST).
3. Spend time with family, friends and build community. Having a sense of belonging and contributing to your social sphere triggers all the ‘feel goods.’ When we feel part of a community, it increases our perceived self-worth and gives us a greater sense of meaning in our lives. Humans are meant to be social by nature, and time with and around others fills that yearning. Zoom meetings are a great substitute when distance (or….you know….a pandemic) make meeting in person impractical. Showing others you care and show up for them will also help someone else get the ‘feel goods.’
4. Love yourself. Who likes that negative person at a party….??? No one. And yet, we often host that person in our minds on a daily basis. Self-talk largely influences our brain health, because what we tell ourselves is what we believe. The next time you’re mentally putting yourself down, or passing judgment about your thoughts or actions, take a PAUSE. Then, acknowledge your thoughts simply for what they are, without judgement, and releasing expectation for how you ‘should’ feel. And then, retrain your brain by thinking of one way you are amazing, related or un-related to the situation. Affirmative self-talk gets the brain producing positive brainwaves!
5. Exercise - Your BRAIN!!! Yes, physical activity has tremendous benefits for your body, aiding with heart health, building muscle tissue, maintaining pliable joints and giving your brain a sense of accomplishment. Mental exercise, such as problem solving and stimulating your brain, is critical for longevity. Reading, playing an instrument, brain games, learning something new – these are all ways to keep your brain active, just as much as you keep your body active.
6. Be thankful. Practicing daily gratitude for the blessings, people and joy in your life is perhaps the second most important thing you can do for your brain (and spirit). This spiritual practice also produces positive brainwaves as we shift the view of our lives using the lens of gratitude. Creating this mindset of abundance, thankful for all that we DO have in life, leaves us feeling ‘full,’ which fosters feelings of contentment and peace.
As you go through your day, incorporating these small tips will have profound benefits – not only for your brain but for your overall sense of being and the amount of joy you experience on a regular basis. Anything you can do to stimulate your brain and keep those ‘juices flowing’ will have lasting benefits! Let your brain lead the way to a longer, happier and more fulfilled life!
To learn more about embracing wellness, a healthy lifestyle and optimal nutrition in your life, schedule a free consultation. Your journey to balanced living starts here!