9 ways to upgrade your brain
-Sep 18, Jenny Paul, Mind -
Staying mentally strong is key to longevity, happiness and overall health so give your grey matter a well needed boost with these top tips.
Your brain alters as you age, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But if you want to keep your memory in tact and remain sharp, focused and interesting it’s time to give it a little upgrade.
Get active not just for your body but for your brain too! Exercise boosts your mood and improves your health. When you don’t regularly exercise plaque builds up in your arteries. This stops the blood being able to be pumped effectively, which can lead to life threatening cardiovascular problems and also decreased brain function. Your brain gets reduced levels of nutrients and oxygen from your blood so can’t work at it’s peak.
Even just a brisk 20-30 minute walk a day can make a marked improvement, so make it your mission to add more movement to your life and benefit from it head to toe.
Fat is good for the brain – at least heathy fats are. The brain is the second fattest organ in the body and needs essential fatty acids to function properly. Since the body doesn’t produce them naturally, your diet needs to contain them. Long-term memory has been shown to be boosted by the likes of salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Add eggs to the mix and you may just find your concentration levels get a step up too.
Daily brain teasers
Whether it’s a crossword, word search or a game of solitaire, make doing some sort of puzzle or brainteaser a daily task. It’s a simple way to keep your brain active and to improve memory as well.
Sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. But you don’t even have to be completely starved of sleep to be affected by lack of it. If you’re regularly getting less than seven to nine hours of sleep a night your brain power and functionality may be severely impacted – along with all the other health concerns which come with it.
Make sleep a priority and you’ll be surprised by how much clearer your head is when you wake up after a good night’s sleep and how much more you get done in the day too.
Depression, stress and anxiety can nibble away at your brain. They can make you unable to concentrate and focus and lead to memory loss as well. These mental health conditions lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol which has been shown to diminish areas of the brain when elevated.
Take a nap
This will be music to many people’s ears! Taking a nap can be good for you and for your brain. We’re not saying you have to snooze the afternoon away, but recharging with a little shut eye can leave you more focused, lower your blood pressure, lighten your mood and make you more patient too. In fact you don’t even have to drift off to the land of nod. Just laying down and resting can have the same effects.
Vitamin D is a powerhouse for your brain and since sunlight is the best way to get it, spending enough time outdoors is essential. Higher levels of vitamin D can up your performance and even slow the ageing of your brain. If the dark, winter months are getting you down, you can get vitamin D from supplements too.
Lack of social contact can negatively impact your cognitive functions. Loneliness is sadly on the incline and with loneliness can come depression, increased blood pressure and poor sleep. None of which are good for the brain. Try to always have a date in the diary, even if it’s just to call a friend, to keep the lines of communication open.
Even if you don’t think you’re the type of person who meditates, it can work for you. Meditation reduces stress and has also been shown to help stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Just 10-15 minutes a day of deep breathing and meditation can go a long way to bettering your brain and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own bed to do it.
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