5 Brain Exercises for a Healthier and Stronger Mind
According to Harvard Medical School, the fear of memory loss and depletion of thinking skills is the most common fear among adults. However, cognitive impairment is not inevitable; it’s actually expected as we get older! But there are many ways to keep our brains strong and stimulated with each passing year. We put together a list of 5 ways to keep your mind at work in mindful, fun, and engaging ways!
*All content written should not be used as a substitute for serious medical advice from a trained professional including clinicians and doctors.
1. Physical exercise
Studies published by the Physicians Postgraduate Press state that individuals who frequently exercise (at least 4 days a week for 30 minutes) are less likely to experience chronic illnesses, both physical and mental. Furthermore, according to Harvard Medical School, animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that positively bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain most responsible for thought. When we exercise, we also increase the connections between brain cells as new nerve cells develop. This all leads to a stronger and more efficient brain!
2. Stimulate your mind
Your brain appreciates all the work you're doing, especially if the work is continuously stimulating! Activities such as reading, painting, building, gardening, and even crafting are all ways to keep your mind at work. They initiate new connections between nerve cells and help your brain generate new cells. You can also bet on math problems and puzzle-solving to help strengthen your brain!
3. Eat wisely
Food is quite literally the fuel for our bodies. Not only can nutritious food help you physically, but it can strengthen your mind. Like a luxurious car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Focus on high quality foods that contain a plethora of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that will protect your brain. Studies available in the US National Library of Medicine show that healthy diets can positively enhance your cognitive abilities and protect your brain from future damage including the effects of aging.
4. Monitor and improve your blood sugar
It is recommended that individuals with a history of high blood sugar should monitor it regularly. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, long term research studies have shown that high blood pressure in mid-life is a key factor in a probability of developing dementia in the future. You can help prevent high blood sugar levels by eating consciously and exercising regularly. Some individuals with high blood sugars may need some additional medication to achieve good control over their sugar levels.
* Are you not sure you may have high blood pressure? Check out what Heart.Org says are the most common symptoms. Nonetheless, we suggest you talk directly with your primary doctor for concrete evaluation.
5. Take care of your emotions
Mental health is important. According to Very Well Mind, it is important that we go beyond behavioral exercises and focus on activating our critical thinking and emotions in order to keep our minds strong. “Cognitive exercises'' are actions we can take to help ourselves think differently. Examples of emotional and cognitive exercises to improve our well-being include:
- Write in a gratitude journal. Sit down and dedicate time (however short or long!) every day to briefly write about everything for which you are thankful. Positively reminding yourself of all the good in life will strengthen your positive thoughts and feelings as you go about the rest of your day, and life.
- Talk to a professional therapist. Having an unbiased professional dedicated to listening to you has proven to help several people become healthier individuals and understand their emotions. This ultimately strengthens our minds and self-awareness.
- Think the opposite. What we mean by this is typically, when we come to a difficult crossroads, we spiral. We think about everything that could go wrong and we inhibit ourselves from making a sound and confident decision. In those moments, try thinking of everything that could go right!
- Meditation. Deep breathing exercises have proven to help reduce anxiety and tension from your body and mind. It is an opportunity for you to take a break and focus on the healing action of your breathing. We suggest setting aside 5-10 minutes every day to find a quiet and peaceful place to meditate. If you need guidance to get started, we recommend these 3 apps to help you:
- Insight Timer