In recognition of Brain Awareness Week, here are six tips to help you manage and improve your brain health.
Train Your Brain
Keeping your brain healthy can be as simple as picking up a new hobby. Research shows that mentally stimulating activities like reading, puzzles, taking courses and doing crafts such as drawing help to stimulate your brain. These activities serve your brain like exercise does to muscles, building new connections between cells and generating new cells, while also preparing your brain for potential change and growth.
Eat a Smart Diet
According to the Cleveland Clinic, many foods like salmon, walnuts, leafy green vegetables and even dark chocolate have been identified as having potential benefits for brain health. A healthy, nutrient rich diet can boost your memory, improve your brainpower and even reduce anxiety and stress. It is also important to note avoiding or limiting the intake of some foods can also have a long-term impact on your health. Foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, butter and dairy should be eaten in moderation. Doing so can help reduce the risk of developing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Check out the Cleveland Clinic’s full list of ‘brain food’.
Protect your Head
According to the CDC, more than 2.8 million traumatic brain injuries occur every year, the majority caused by falls. It may seem simple, but protecting your head from physical damage helps keep your brain healthy. This means you should always wear your seatbelt when driving in cars and other motor vehicles, and also wear a helmet when participating in certain physical activities and potentially dangerous ones including riding a bicycle, skiing or rock climbing. Other ways to prevent falls include using rails on stairways, avoiding poorly lit areas and steering clear of physical obstacles whenever possible.
Making time for friends and family not only helps us feel good, but helps keep our brains healthy, too. Studies have shown that the amygdala, the region of the brain that helps regulate emotions, is more developed in people who have broader and more complex social networks – showing that socialization is an important aspect of brain health. Another report from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior demonstrates that being able to rely on friends and family can help you manage stress, therefore helping to preserve your mental health. Finally, time spent around family and friends often results in laughter, releasing endorphins – the body’s feel-good chemical that’s also released through physical activity like exercise.
The stress-reducing properties of meditation have been proven to keep your brain both happier and healthier. Take a few minutes out of your day to meditate. If you need some guidance, sign up for a yoga class or download a free meditation app such as Headspace or Calm.
See Your Doctor
Make sure to discuss your cognitive health with your doctor at your annual wellness appointment to create a plan that will help you keep your brain at its best.