As you go about your health promotion plan, whether it includes a diet plan, an exercise plan, a mindset strategy including meditation, or otherwise, it’s important not to overlook the brain in all of this.
Many people have a strong tendency to consider their heart health, their bones and joints, their body composition, and so forth but they just don’t give the attention to their brain that it deserves. The brain is what literally runs the show, so you want to ensure that it’s functioning at an optimal level.
So what can you do to promote a healthier brain?
Here are five steps to take to keep yourself on top of your game.
Eat More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If there’s one nutrient that your brain loves to suck up, omega-3 fatty acids are it. You can find these in foods such as salmon and other oily fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
They’re key in helping to ward off depression, reducing your risk of dementia, and improving focus, concentration and memory.
Sadly, most people aren’t getting enough in today’s diets, so it really pays to boost your intake.
Keep Your Blood Pressure Levels In Check
The next step to a healthier brain is keeping tabs on your blood pressure level. It’s easy to let this get out of control if you aren’t careful enough.
We consume copious amounts of salt in our diets today and this leads to high blood pressure, which can then contribute to a stroke.
Start cutting back. Look for hidden sources of sodium in your diet such as pre-made meats, condiments, cereals, dairy products and sauces. Sodium often lurks where you’d least expect it so start paying much closer attention to what you are consuming.
Get Quality (And Enough!) Sleep
Getting enough sleep at night is critical to a healthy body yet how many times have you really woken up in the morning feeling well rested? Most people, when considering the last year, can count the number of times on one hand – it just doesn’t happen!
It’s time to start making this happen. Few things are as important for our health and well-being as sleep, so take this seriously.
Sleep is what will help you manage your insulin sensitivity, control your hunger, consolidate memories, help with the repair and growth of new body tissues, and help the brain recharge for another day ahead.
Few things will also impact your quality of life as not getting as much sleep as you should. Think for a moment how much you enjoyed your day last time you didn’t get enough sleep. Probably not very much, right?
It’s a shame to waste life away with bad days simply because you aren’t sleeping enough.
Meditation is the next key activity that you’ll want to do if you hope to boost your brain power. Taking even 5-10 minutes to meditate each day is proven to help reduce stress, improve your ability to focus and concentrate, enhance your positivity and level of gratitude, and promote a more energized life.
Those who spend time in meditation often have to sleep less at night to feel well rested, so if you are someone who can’t seem to carve out those eight or nine hours, you may focus on carving out 10-20 to meditate instead.
Many people overlook meditation as being a silly exercise or nothing more than deep breathing but when you take the time to learn how to do it correctly, it is so much more.
Finally, the last step to fostering a healthier brain is to get moving. Avoid sitting any longer than an hour or two at a time without moving around a bit. Set a timer to go off at your desk and when it does, get up and walk around.
This will help to get the blood flowing throughout the body, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
You’ll often find that when you’ve been sitting for an extended period of time, you feel lethargic and mentally can’t focus. Get up and walk around and you’ll soon see that change.
When you return back, you’ll notice your concentration has improved and you’re better able to stay on task.
In addition to focusing on sitting less, also try and get out for walks more often. Getting some fresh air in each day, weather permitting, is one of the best ways to move your body and improve your health.
So there you have a list of the many things that you can do to help boost brain health. And, they all are easily accomplishable for most people. It isn’t going to take great effort to help keep your brain healthy. Just make a conscious choice each and every day to put these steps in place and you will be well on your way.
Shannon Clark is your go-to-girl. She holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now, and has helped others of all ages lose weight, build muscle, and improve their physical performance.