Your mind is a mighty thing. Without a healthy brain, the rest of your body and life simply can’t function properly. So what can you be doing every day to exercise your brain and keep it in tip-top shape?
A recent study found that people who meditate regularly can actually reduce the age of their brains—at least in scans. Researchers compared 50 men and women who meditated regularly with 50 who did not, and some of the meditators had brains that looked 7.5 years younger than their physical ages (while the non-meditators had no such differences). Really taking the time to get in tune with your body by connecting it on a deeper level with your mind can dramatically benefit your overall health.
What you put inside your body in the way of fuel matters both short and long-term. When you plan your weekly menu, go for fatty fish and leafy greens to give your brain the support it needs to function at its highest level. Avoid processed foods and opt for local produce, meat, and dairy whenever possible. There’s even evidence that drinking that cup of coffee every morning decreases your risk for developing dementia, so bottoms up to improved brain health!
Getting enough rest is not a luxury of overall health—it’s a necessity. Adults should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep in a day (and closer to eight is better) in order to work and play at their highest capacity. When you sleep, the neurons in your brain have the chance to solidify and it certainly shows the next morning. Give your brain the gift of sleep by making it a health priority.
Make sure you are getting enough time for you during your waking hours too. Take the days off from work you are owed. Plan an impromptu lunch with your significant other or friends now and then. Even heading to trivia night or playing bingo has health benefits for your brain—including increased focus and boosted mood from socialization. Life shouldn’t be all work; incorporate some play in your day, every day, to keep your brain well.
You’ve likely heard of the "Mozart effect" that positively impacts brain health, but you don’t have to force yourself to listen to classical music if you really don’t like it. Science shows that listening to any type of music activates every part of the brain. Turn on your favorite station in the car, create a cooking playlist, and incorporate the right background music during yoga and meditation. Your brain will thank you.
Get your hands a little dirty and connect with nature on a deeper level by planting, and cultivating, your own little garden. Do some research on what grows best in your geographic area and in what times of the year. If you have never had a green thumb, start small with a container herb garden. The planning that goes into properly planting and maintaining a garden is good for your health and will keep your brain working harder.