With Brain Awareness Week beginning on the 11th of March, now is a great time for you to think about your brain health. Our brains are the most important organ in our body, but we tend to forget to look after them in the way we do the rest. If you want to improve your brain health, and don’t know how to keep your brain healthy and active, then read on. We will give you 7 tips on how to keep your brain healthy and all the right neurons firing!
Everyone knows that we need exercise to keep our bodies healthy, but what many people forget is that exercise is also excellent for the brain. Exercise increases the number of blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood and glucose to the brain, boosting neural function and keeping the organ healthy. Exercise also demands the brain coordinate complex movements, promoting the growth of new brain cells and the connections between them.
Remaining active throughout the day boosts the metabolism and blood flow and so using a standing desk at work could boost your brain health. Users have also reported higher energy and mood. And you might want to try out some healthy brain exercises too, which have been linked with increasing memory among other things.
Equally, what we eat affects us. There are many foods that improve brain function. There is evidence that the omega 3 oils found in fish improve memory and overall function, as do broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and some berries. Ginkgo Biloba is good for the memory. Protein, found in meat, eggs and beans and peas (pulses), contains high levels of amino acids, such as tyrosine, which in turn cause neurons to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are associated with mental alertness.
Also, green tea and coffee contain high levels of antioxidants, which are good for brain function and have even been linked to decreased risk of strokes’, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Have A Diverse Social Network
Staying in touch with close friends and family has been proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in old age. Friends and family provide support which in turn reduces stress, the and risk of depression and other associated disorders. The more people you speak to, the more intellectual stimulation and new ideas you are presented with. This keeps the brain active and inquisitive. A strong social network has even been linked with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Keeping in touch with loved ones and friends is important, as is meeting new people. Joining clubs, taking up new hobbies and volunteering are all excellent ways of staying socially active.
Keeping a watch on how we think can also help. Thinking negatively too often can drain the brain of its positive forcefulness. It can even dim its ability to function, and contribute to the development of mental problems such as depression. However, focusing on positive thoughts, feelings and memories decreases cortisol and produces serotonin. This not only makes you feel good but helps your brain function at peak capacity.
This also has real-world benefits, which will in turn help boost your brain health. Optimism involves highly desirable cognitive, emotional, and motivational components. Optimistic people tend to have better moods, to be more persevering and successful, and to experience better physical health.
There is also evidence that the positive thinkers cope better with stress – another damaging factor on your brain health – and the American Psychological Association even suggest that positive reinforcement can even make you smarter!
Another often overlooked factor in good brain health is sleep. Our brains use the time we are asleep to process any information which was not processed during waking hours. Sometimes we experience this perceptively as dreams. Another great example is the idea of sleeping on a problem, and there are many studies suggesting the brain has the ability to unpick and creatively solve problems in both REM and deep sleep.
Not only is sleep important for problem-solving, and learning, also simply put, the brain needs rest! According to Psychology Today; “Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to benefit fully and perform at their cognitive peak each day.”
So your brain needs stimulation, of many different kinds, and it also needs rest. So it makes sense that a positive work-life balance will increase your brain health. A standing desk will also ensure your physical health during work. Making time for you, and your friends and family will keep you positive and engaged, and ensure you can get to work happy and energized. This will allow you to perform to your best and give your brain the best exercise.
Good Mental Health
All of the tips above play a big role in preventing or treating mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Mental health conditions are now thought to have both short and long term effects on cognitive function. Depression, for example, causes short term problems. Depressed people commonly experience difficulty remembering things, making decisions, planning, setting priorities, and taking action.
However, in the longer term, there is also evidence that depression can lead to diminishing memory. The amygdalin becomes overactive and overproduces cortisol, and according to this report by Healthline.com: “the long-term exposure to increased cortisol levels can slow the production of new neurons and cause the neurons in the hippocampus to shrink. This can lead to memory problems.”
Keep a watch on your mood and seek help from family, friends of your doctor if you suspect you are not coping.
Participate in Brain Health Week
We hope this shows you the importance of a healthy brain. We encourage you to participate in Brain Health Week! Participate in some planned Brain Health Week activities in Australia. Following these tips will help you make a move towards great brain health. Stay positive, eat and sleep well and maintain a work-life balance. These things will allow you to be at your best. They will enrich your life socially, keeping your brain healthy.
Doing regular exercise and keeping in good health is important on many levels, but just as much so for your brain. Staying more active during your work day would be a great starting point to boost your metabolism, energy, and mood.