5 Ways To Keep Your Mind Sharp And Active
Our mind is the key to our limitless potential. This makes it our most powerful resource and one that we want to take care of. As we focus on how to create healthy habits in the New Year and beyond, here are five ways to help ensure we keep our mind optimized for maximum productivity.
1- Eat healthy
Eating a balanced diet isn’t only to keep our body healthy. It’s also imperative in keeping our brain functioning. We are what we eat, so consuming foods that help boost brain power helps our brain stay flexible and agile throughout our day.
We want to eat a diet rich in antioxidants found in foods like blueberries and carrots. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day will keep our brain and body strong, but we can also add in some decadent dark chocolate as well. In addition, we want to eat fishes full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and nutrient-dense nuts. A diet full of these types of foods have been found to enhance memory, strengthen immunity, and improve our learning capabilities.
2- Engage in social interactions
Did you know that chatting with friends, hanging out with people, and establishing frequent social contact can help keep your mind active? Studies show there is a correlation between social interactions and mental activeness. In fact, social interactions improve cognitive abilities and can sometimes delay the onset of ageing diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
When we engage in social activities, our brain functions and acts the same as when we engage in physical activities. The areas involved in thinking, reasoning, retaining memories, and creating memories are activated. Constantly engaging these regions of the brain increases the brain’s neuroplasticity, ensuring there is an overall improvement in the brain’s performance.
3- Complete mind building activities
Our brain needs to not just be engaged but performs best when we’re pushing ourselves to learn new things. Learning something new stretches our brain’s cognitive abilities while challenging the brain to stay active and alert instead of falling into the more automated habit routines. The new information creates new neural pathways and strengthens regions of the brain needed for thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, memory, and more.
The beauty of keeping our minds active and alert is that there are limitless activities and ways to go about it. We can learn a new hobby such as knitting or woodworking. We can learn a new language or how to play an instrument. Learning how to fix a leaky sink or complete other household tasks are ways to build our minds while getting chores done. And we can even play games such as chess, monopoly, scrabble, sudoku, card games, etc. that all work to keep our minds busy while improving various functionalities at the same time.
4- Exercise regularly
We often say, when the body moves, the brain grooves. And this really highlights how important exercising the body is to the brain. The brain’s cognitive abilities improve with neural development and exercise leads to an increase of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which is essentially fertilizer for the brain. These BDNF’s are vital for growing new neurons and maintaining existing neural pathways.
Studies also show exercise boosts our memory retention along with other executive functionality such as thinking, problem-solving, and logical reasoning. Regular exercise has been shown to lower stress, balance and elevate our moods, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, increase oxygen and nutrient levels in brain cells, and boost our energy throughout the day.
Having a clear and calm mind is an essential element in maintaining our overall brain health. Meditation helps keep us in the present, which increases our focus and attention. A stressed brain tends to increase activity in our parietal lobe, which is where our sensory information is processed. By reducing this activity, we’re able to take in our environments in a calmer, more focused manner. This helps us process information the same way, which is why we feel energized and alert after meditating.
Meditation lowers cortisol, which can hinder our overall mental performance and brain functionality, by releasing endorphins and other neurochemicals like dopamine. These neurochemicals help us relax and elevate our mood. Even a short meditation session helps us relax because we’re allowing our brain to rest and recover. This acts as a sort of reset, clearing our mind of thought spirals or other worries while we focus on our breathing and simply being in our body.
Keeping our brain active and alert doesn’t have to take excessive time or add to our already overflowing schedules. Instead, understand how small changes to the things we do daily can have a huge impact.