Maintain your amazing brain

A healthy brain is an incredibly asset. It is likely the best tool we have to navigate through challenging times and to thrive in life. This means it is very important to keep your brain in top shape. I am going to mention a couple of things you can do!

1. Rethink your stress
​A whole body of research shows that our brain can deal with short-term stresses and we can conceptualise stress as a helpful adaptation to dealing with tough times. But hours and days of coping in stressful situations are bad for your brain and can cause physical harm. It is key that we consider ways of decreasing stress each day.

One often-overlooked source of stress is our exposure to the news. Though it is important to be informed, most of us would benefit from limiting our overall news consumption, and by restricting it to more reliable, less sensationalised sources. Also be careful of too much information being absorbed every day.

2. Chill out with the right tunes
​A professor of Decision Neuroscience, Hilke Plassmann says many of us instinctively use music to regulate our moods and calm our thinking. Scientifically the right tunes really do help our brains to chill out. Playing music in the background while working can increase productivity, sharpen focus, and sustain mental attention.

You can also reduce stress by singing. Calm you nerves before a meeting by singing in the car, it floods your brain with endorphins (a group of hormones) that reduces stress and improves your mood.

3. Be Mindful
​The reason so many people recommend exercises such as focusing on your breathing, is because a mountain of research shows it works to regulate your brain activity.

Concentrate on deep breath a couple of times per day!

4. Connect with others
​As humans, we experience a deep need for connection with other people. Research has revealed that healthy relationships are vital for our physical, mental, and cognitive health.

One of the easiest ways to sustain your relationships is simply to pick up the phone. Just hearing someone else’s voice can make a world of difference. Volunteering can also provide a wealth of interpersonal benefits that may translate into improved brain function.

5. Eat right for your brain health
​To get our brains in the best shape possible, we must start with high-quality building blocks. That means paying special attention to what we eat. When times get tough, it is tempting to reach for comfort foods. Unfortunately, these tend to be highly processed and high in refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and added sugars, all of which may damage the brain by increasing inflammation.

On the other hand, when we consume nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and nuts we can lower inflammation and protect the brain.

Water also plays a big role in brain health. 75 % of your brain consist of water. Keep hydrated to protect your amazing brain. You can even care for your family and colleagues by asking when they had their last glass of water?

6. Sleep you way to better thinking
​Sleep is vital to brain health. When our schedules are thrown off, sleep is the first casualty. Poor sleep is proven to be a risk factor for making bad decisions.

Get your sleep back on track by cutting out blue light exposure in the hours before bed (blue light blocks production of the sleep hormone melatonin). Try to create a wind-down routine before bed that includes a relaxing activity like reading, listening to music. Avoid discussing or consuming stressful content in the hour before bed.

7. Exercise
​We are all aware that exercise is good for the body. We are now learning that it’s also vital for healthy brain function and can even prevent illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Whatever kind of exercise works for you, just keep on moving!

8. Get into nature
​Being in nature is good for our health. In fact, nature exposure has been linked to a host of brain benefits including improved cognition and better mood.

First and foremost, if you can get outside, do it! Just 20 minutes in an outdoor natural environment may be enough to lower levels of stress. It can be as simple as a walk around the neighbourhood. If you are unable to get outside (due to restrictions, weather, or other reasons), consider bringing the outside in! Indoor plants are linked to increased positive emotions and reduced negative feelings. People working in offices with natural elements like plants and sunlight reported being more productive and more creative.

And if you are really stuck inside four walls, even photographs of nature may be helpful. One study found that compared to looking at urban pictures, seeing nature photos may help improve brain functions.

Within the next hour share with someone one thing that you are going to start doing today to maintain your amazing brain.

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