6 Daily Habits that can Boost Brain Health
Our days are just a sum total of numerous little actions we perform through the day without taking much notice. These are what we call habits, and these make up a large chunk of our brain’s activities throughout the day.
Now, there are some habits that have a profound effect on the overall health of your brain, some good, some bad. Here are daily habits you can turn to the benefit of your brain health.
Get Enough Sleep
If you are missing out on sleep, you are missing out a valuable part of your memory consolidation process which in turn affects your long term memory and increases the risk of memory-related diseases. Our brain does not go to sleep when we do, it works continuously to sort and gather everything you learned during the day. This process takes place in a deep, dreamless phase of sleep called the ‘slow-wave’ sleep. When your sleep cycle is disturbed or cut short, you get very little slow-wave sleep or even none at all. Which means, your brain misses out on memory consolidation, and your previous day’s learning goes literally to waste.
Exercising is good for your brain in many ways. For one, they are excellent mood-boosters which in turn help cognitive functions like memory, creativity and motivation. But doing just one type of exercise like only walking or stretching can actually limit those benefits. A recent study in The Journal of Aging Research found that mixing exercises like weight, cardio and stretching keeps your memory a lot sharper and agile than doing just one type of exercise. So keep mixing up your fitness regime with diverse practices. Your body and brain will get fitter together!
Meditation and mindfulness practices may seem archaic concepts from old texts, but they have some pretty tangible effect on your brain health. Multiple recent studies have found that meditation improves memory and concentration to a great deal. According to one study published in the Journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it also generates growth in the brain cortex which is associated with intelligent and efficient thinking and information processing. Meditation is also a great way to manage stress, and stress is real bad news for your brain health.
Learn New Things Regularly
It does not need to be big and very complex; maybe just learning to navigate a new internet tool, cooking an experimental dish from scratch, sit with a dictionary and try to make sense of a foreign language song. These little adventures give your brain a good workout, and regular workouts are as essential for your brain fitness as it is for that of the body.
Practice Positive Thinking
A well-known method in educational psychology is the “Pygmalion Effect”, where teachers expect higher standards from particular students, and those students in turn get motivated and strive more to meet those expectations. This is true for your brain too. Multiple studies have shown that when we tell ourselves that achieving a high standard is possible, our brain actually gets programmed into the readiness we need to achieve that target. But when we feel a target is too high to achieve, our drive and motivation gets lower and the brain actually puts less effort than it normally would.
Incorporate ‘Brain Food’ into Your Diet
We often don’t realize how much our brain is affected by what we eat. Yet there are types of foods that have direct and specific effects on many of our brain functions. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, some berries, and the omega 3 oils found in oily fish (and some grains) greatly improve memory and overall brain function. Protein found in meat, fish, egg, and beans contains high levels of amino acids like tyrosine, which in turn helps produce two extremely important neurotransmitters in our brain, norepinephrine and dopamine. Both of these are associated with mental alertness.
As the saying goes, habit makes a man. So make sure the habits you are forming helps your body and brain, and not hinder them to reach their full potential. The tips above should help!