Brain Health: 8 Secrets to Stop Mental Decline and Get Happier
I can’t count how many times I’ve felt mentally exhausted after a long week. On many occasions, I’ve felt so forgetful and brain-fogged from stress and over-stimulation that it felt like I’d literally put my brain in a microwave and turned it to mush. Through such experiences, I’ve come to realize that many of us don’t take care of our brains the way we should. We often take them for granted, and our brains (in my experience) are very much connected to our hearts. When you stop taking care of all that amazing cerebral matter, you negatively affect your entire being. However, there are ways you can prevent your brain health from deteriorating.
Here are 8 simple ways to improve your mental sharpness and boost happiness:
1. Think Positive Thoughts
Attitude truly changes everything! Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, only to watch the rest of the day go to hell by staying in a terrible mood? Positive thought turns it around by helping your brain release those feel-good endorphins we all know and love. Positive mind, positive life.
2. Get Plenty of Rest
Proper, restful sleep is crucial for memory, productivity and overall brain health. Adequate sleep also helps reduce stress and keeps blood pressure in check. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Children age 6-13 should get around 9-11 hours while teens should get around 8-10 hours.
3. Don’t Drown Yourself in To-Do Lists
When you push yourself too hard to accomplish too much in a day, mental and emotional exhaustion depletes endorphins and anxiety levels rise. So tread the waters lightly, and don’t drown yourself in a sea of to-do lists. When you live your life in balance, you live a life that makes your heart and brain glow.
4. Mind the Multitasking
Doing two or more things at once may seem like such a normal part of everyday life that you may not give it a second thought. Yet research conducted at Stanford University rejects the idea of multitasking, and studies have shown that multitasking can actually impair performance and even be harmful to your brain. So try being more mindful and perform one task at a time rather than multitasking. Your brain may thank you.
5. Put Good in, Get Good Out
Diet is everything. The types of foods you eat affect every cell in your body, including your brain cells. If your diet contains too much fast food, studies show that junk food can impair brain function. If your diet contains healthy foods, studies by Harvard Medical School show that a Mediterranean-style diet along with vitamin supplements support a healthy brain. So bring on the farmer’s markets and health food stores!
6. Find Your Om
According to numerous research studies, meditation helps improve brain function and health. The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts but to not let your thoughts control you. It’s an act of stopping and just being, and if you’ve never meditated before, you might consider finding an instructor or going to a class to help you get started. Your brain will forever be grateful.
7. Get More Exercise
Have you ever noticed how good you feel after going for a walk, even if you felt tired at the start? In addition to strengthening your musculoskeletal system, exercise supports brain health by improving your nervous system, and boosts your mood by increasing endorphin production. That’s why doctors commonly recommend exercise to patients suffering mental illness and/or insomnia.
8. Do More of What Makes You Happy
You should never feel selfish about making your happiness a priority. It’s necessary. When you lose your happiness, you begin to lose yourself. So make time to do what makes you happy, whether spending time with loved ones, listening to music, traveling or exploring your artistic side. Happiness is born in the heart and grows in the brain. So always choose happiness. You gotta nourish to flourish.