The New Year is here!
Did you make any resolutions?
Whatever goals you set, nurturing and protecting your brain should be at the top of your list. Optimizing brain function and performance is essential for starting off the New Year right…and maintaining healthy habits throughout the year.
Since the New Year kicks off the season of new beginnings, now is a great time to be more mindful of your brain. More…brainful.
If you’re looking to optimize your wellness, here are 12 natural ways to improve your health in the New Year by putting your brain first…
12 Ways to Start the New Year in a Brainful State of Mind
Know Your Brain Type
Just as identifying your abilities, interests, and skills can help you become a more well-rounded person, knowing your Brain Type can help you better understand who you are and why you do what you do. These insights can potentially impact your future career and relationships in significant ways.
One of the best ways to achieve a state of calm is with mindfulness. Yoga, tai chi, and other mindfulness exercises can help reduce anxious and depressive thoughts and increase focus. Well-designed human studies show that daily mindfulness can help improve your brain.
Perhaps the global health crisis has completely disrupted your daily schedule, creating a variety of lifestyle changes that have impacted your focus, sleep, and mood. Or, maybe the unique stressors of these uncertain times have impaired your ability to cope, making you feel completely overwhelmed much of the time. You can’t stop what’s happening around the globe, but you can change what’s going on inside your brain to prevent fear from dominating your life.
An effective routine is to begin each morning by saying something like, “Today is going to be a great day!” Such a simple sentence can cause your brain to look for ways to fulfill that affirmative statement. It also establishes a healthy thought patternyou can continue throughout the day.
You’ve probably heard the expression “always take care of number one.” Although that saying might not be the best advice in business, team sports, relationships, or many other areas of life, it holds a great deal of significance when it comes to your personal health. In fact, how you treat your body and brain may well determine your ability to function in an increasingly stressful world.
Social connections can significantly affect your brain, mood, and physical health. The health habits of the people you spend time with can have a dramatic impact on your own health. It’s wise to surround yourself with people who are happy, upbeat, kind, and who challenge you to be the best version of yourself.
Avoid Unhealthy Foods
Proper nutrition is essential to optimal brain function. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is filled with toxic foods that increase your risk for mental and physical problems, as well as issues with your focus, mood, and memory.
Many of these unhealthy foods are:
Artificially colored and sweetened
Laden with hormones
Tainted with antibiotics
In place of these harmful foods, be sure to eat a healthy diet…one that includes lean protein, high fiber, and healthy fats. Also, it’s recommended that you eat 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Physical activity is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy. Exercise can boost blood flow, deliver oxygen and other nutrients to the brain, and may increase your levels of dopamine. Walking at a brisk pace can help you clear your mind, decrease anxious feelings, improve your mood, and burn some calories all at the same time.
Get Restful Sleep
Anything that disrupts your natural sleep pattern, like excessive caffeine, alcohol, or video game playing, can have adverse effects on your ability to perform tasks at work, school, or home. Insufficient and inconsistent sleep can increase irritability, moodiness, and poor judgment. To keep your brain at the top of its game, be sure to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
One of the best ways to support your memory is to set aside some time every day for new learning. Examples: learning a new language or musical instrument, trying a new kind of dance or other complex physical activity, or taking up a new hobby like chess or painting. Researchers emphasize that the “use it or lose it” principle applies to the brain, so be intentional about learning new things.
Mood and Stress Relief
Often, there’s a correlation between being stressed out and experiencing anxious thoughts or bouts of low mood. Stress can negatively affect your mood and keep your brain stuck in fight-or-flight mode. Also, stress can adversely impact the way your brain and body function, so it’s important for you to implement effective coping strategies.
Research suggests that focusing on gratitude helps to calm the deep limbic areas and enhance the other judgment centers of your brain. People who express gratitude on a regular basis are healthier, more optimistic, make better progress toward their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are more helpful to others. Practicing gratitude first thing in the morning can improve your mood and promote feelings of contentment throughout the day.
Applying these practical tips can help you have a more healthful and brainful life in the New Year!
The BrainMD team wishes you and yours a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!