When it comes to health, your brain is everything. If your mind isn’t in a good condition, then the rest of your health is… well… it’s largely irrelevant. There’s little to appreciate about your great physical health if your brain isn’t performing as it should. For example, you’re not going to be able to experience the feelings of happiness and satisfaction that your hard work should elicit. For you to appreciate how well the rest of your body is functioning, it’s imperative that your brain is at its very best.
However… Okay, let’s get the bad news out of the way first, so we can then focus on the good stuff to help cheer us up: Modern life is inherently bad for your mind.
- The blue light we are exposed to via devices and screens can interrupt our natural sleep pattern, and sleep is vital to proper brain function.
- A huge number of the population are chronically dehydrated. As the brain is largely comprised of water, this dehydration can impair function considerably.
- We’re all so very, very busy. If you experience the constant feeling of being rushed off your feet that so many people do, then your mind is not getting the chance to recover from the stresses and strains of each day.
- Multitasking—an essential for everyday life in the 21st century—is generally considered to be bad for our brains.
Phew. Okay, so that’s quite a list, and it makes for fairly miserable reading—so let’s get to the good stuff. If you want to fight back against the issues as described above, then you’ll be delighted to know that it’s within your power to do so. Here are six ways to keep your mind engaged, active, and functioning at its very best.
- Drink more water
You’ve doubtlessly been told you need to drink more water for the health of your body, but good water intake is essential for our brains as well.
On average, you should be aiming to drink at least two liters of water per day, and more if you exercise.
If you’re not a fan of water, then experiment with different methods for teaching yourself how to drink more.
- Get a good night’s sleep
The occasional late night isn’t going to do you any harm, but it is vital that you sleep well the vast majority of the time.
You have to take steps to ensure that you’re getting a good quality of sleep, too. Try and keep your room as cool as possible; make your bed tempting by choosing to click here for the perfect mattress; and try to limit the amount of light in your bedroom.
How much you need to sleep very much depends on your own natural rhythms. Most people need something between six and nine hours to feel functional and give their mind the boost it needs, so experiment with different timings and see what works best for you.
- Keep your mind active
Most of us go through life doing the same things we always do. We establish a routine; we go about our daily lives, and they don’t change that much from day to day. This is rather comforting, and most of us cherish it—but it’s not particularly good for our mind.
To keep your mind active, it’s wise to focus something of your mental energy on continuing to learn, continuing to develop your skills. If your life is dominated by activities and events that allow your mind to effectively go into autopilot on a regular basis, then it will; and that means you’re not going to reach the full capabilities of what your mind can achieve.
There are various ways to keep your mind active, and they don’t involve the “brain training” games that became all the rage a few years ago. In fact, you might be best to give brain training a miss altogether, given that its benefits are somewhat doubtful. Instead, you should focus on learning new, helpful, useful skills, such as learning a new language or crafting—anything that makes your brain work hard and is different to your normal life behaviors.
- Manage your stress
Yes, this is a ridiculously basic statement, which lightly suggests that you’ve been failing to manage your stress but now you’ve been told to do so, you’ll have the issue sorted in seconds. We know stress doesn’t work like that and you can’t turn it off and on like a switch.
However, it is worth remembering that stress rarely resolves itself. In fact, it tends to perpetuate. The more cortisol—the stress hormone—you have in your body, the more you’re prone to procrastination and failures of multitasking, which means you’re less productive, which will make you more stressed. It truly is a vicious circle.
Rather than waiting for stress to resolve itself, try and ease the burden on your mind by being proactive in dealing with it. Your mental health will benefit from seeing a therapist, taking gentle exercise, acts of self-care, and facing problems head-on rather than avoiding them. Stress can do serious damage to your brain if it is not challenged, so if you experience any of the symptoms of stress, see this as an emergency that you have to treat as soon as possible.
- Eat your way to a healthy mind
Finally, there are a few foods you’re going to want to introduce to your diet if you want to be sure your mind is in the best condition possible. All of the below foods are recognized for their nutritional benefits on your brain:
- Lean meats, such as chicken or turkey
- Pulses, such as lentils or quinoa
- Dark chocolate
If you introduce these foods into your diet on a regular basis, then your brain should be able to function at its absolute best.
The health of your brain, and your mind, are key to ensuring you enjoy life as much as you should. By adopting the behaviors above, you can be sure that your grey matter is always in the very best condition.
Photo by Mariana Medvedeva