The way that our brain functions on a daily basis directly affects our mental health. It can impact how we feel, how many mood swings we have, how focused we are and how much we are able to extract out of our day without getting exhausted. So, won’t it be great if we are always in a state of focus and are always motivated from within? Well, this state of optimal brain functioning can be achieved by just including 9 habits in your lifestyle!
Let’s take a look at some simple habits that can help you boost your brain health!
A 2013 study published by PubMed Central (PMC) has shown that inadequate exposure to sunlight can cause a major dip in dopamine levels. Just 2 minutes of the morning sunshine can help you feel alert and focused. Starting your day early will also help you fall asleep more quickly at night. Habits that one can adopt to get sun exposure are going for a brisk morning walk early in the morning and avoiding checking your phone for at least 30 minutes after waking up.
An addictive combination of sugar and salt is what makes your appetite insatiable. That is the reason why we end up binge eating on desserts filled with sugar or chips that are filled with salt. You can always replace refined sugar with healthier sugar substitutes like jaggery, honey etc. Also, keep your blood sugar levels steady to avoid constant cravings. A daily habit to include in your lifestyle can be increasing your protein intake in the morning which will significantly reduce your sugar cravings and also make a habit of not keeping processed snacks at home.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects for good health. Lack of it or a pattern of disturbed sleep will drain us of our energy and motivation levels. According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, it is essential that an adult of upto 60 years gets at least 7-9 hours of sleep at night. For proper sleep, you need to make a habit of avoiding caffeine after 12 pm, wake up and sleep at the same time every day to build a routine and limit your screen time before bed.
Another 2006 study published by PMC, says that indulging in even 10 minutes of daily aerobic exercises can spark an improvement in mood. You will always feel refreshed after some physical activity and will have better power to focus on your tasks. To make a habit of working out everyday you can try to put your workout clothes near your bed the night before, pre-pay for fitness classes to create loss aversion and pack a resistance band whenever you travel.
Feeling good doesn’t require that something huge or life-changing has to happen. One can easily find happiness in good food, a text from a loved one, a good book, a sip of coffee, a great workout session, etc. Cling on to these moments as these will help you keep your mood in check and stay motivated. Make a habit of keeping a list of moments (activities, events, people) that made you feel grateful and try to add 3 more each evening.
Meditation doesn’t always have to be sitting cross-legged in a still position, it can be anything that helps you in clearing your mind of all the clutter, focus inward and allow your thoughts to come and go without any judgment. It can be walking, reading, dancing, anything that helps you clear your head of all unnecessary thoughts. So, try to block out 10 minutes on your day each morning or you can learn how to do proper meditation by listening to guided meditation.
There are many foods that can help in boosting brain health and omega 3 fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain but most of us don’t consume nearly enough. A 2018 study published by Harvard Health Publishing shows that 1000 mg per day of EPA (a type of omega 3 fatty acid) can act as an antidepressant. To increase your omega 3 consumption try to increase your intake of walnuts, salmon, flaxseed, seaweed and supplement with 2-3 grams of fish oil per day.
Water makes up for 75 percent of brain mass. So even a slight dip in hydration levels will quickly impact your brain health and cognition. Your neurons can’t run efficiently if you are not hydrated. So, drink a full glass of water before every meal and keep a 1 litre water bottle next to your bed and drink it as soon as you wake up.
Certain music can enhance your mood and focus, lower your blood pressure and stress and even improve your sleep. Music with a slower tempo (between 60-80 beats per minute) is ideal for boosting brain health. Create a playlist of such songs and listen to them in your free time.
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