Let’s face it, when most people think of living healthy we normally think of just our physical health. We go to the doctor for our annual check-ups, manage our eating habits, and exercise our muscles. Clearly, all these activities are ways we keep our physical health in check. However, what about keeping our brains active? The good news is that keeping our mental health in balance is just as easy as keeping our physical bodies in check.
It may be somewhat of a surprise to learn that many of the things we do for physical health actually can improve our mental health as well. The brain is just like a muscle. It needs to be challenged and taken care of for optimal health. It is important to remember that no matter what age we are, keeping ourselves physically and mentally healthy is important to have the best quality of life. Following the below tips for better mental health, will be sure to improve your overall health in many regards.
Exercise Your Mental Muscles
Physical exercise is proven to be an essential part of living a healthy life. Not only do we strengthen our many bodily muscles, we also increase our blood-flow that brings oxygen to our brains. Circulating oxygen to the brain is important for the brain to grow and heal. Exercise gets us off the couch and keeps us moving. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to join a gym seven days a week. Some people live under the false assumption that exercise is too time consuming and difficult. Our lives can get pretty hectic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fit exercise into our daily lives. Dancing, gardening, taking our pets outside for a walk, and playing sports are just a few examples of physical activities that are fun and stimulating to the brain.
Challenge Your Brain
Trying new things, like taking up a new hobby, is a great way to challenge the brain and keep it active. Brain-inducing activities can range from becoming more informed on a certain area of interest, to taking a class to improve/strengthen brain function. Experiencing new things and challenging yourself are great ways to not only give your brain muscles a workout, but to add new dimensions to your life. Such activities can include, taking a cooking class or trying something completely out of the box, like learning a new language, to extend brain activity.
Eat Brain Food
The connection that our mind and body share is profound. Eating healthy is a topic that comes up frequently when regarding our physical health. The same applies to our minds. Eating foods that are high in saturated fat and are heavily processed slow us down, mentally and physically. Superfoods for the brain include eating foods that are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and contain essential fatty acids (like omega-3). These foods are important for maintaining a healthy, bodily system. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and nuts are all superfoods that can help us fight against certain diseases for optimal health. Read this article for recipes that incorporate brain-boosting ingredients into delicious meals (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_mind_and_memory).
Going out and interacting with others may sound like an odd activity to do in order to increase brain mobility, but communicating socially is a great way to have a strong social network that stimulates the brain in many ways. Learning from others, for instance, creates connections that stimulate further brain activity. This includes, honing communication skills and learning new things from others that add to our knowledge base. Volunteering, joining a new club, or taking a class is just a few ways we can further our interaction with others and flex our brain muscles at the same time.
Create a Stress-Free Environment
In today’s hectic world, it may seem nearly impossible to exist in a stress-free environment. While this may be true, there are ways to reduce stress on a daily basis. Stress overloads the brain and can be taxing on the body. Thus, finding ways to relax and enjoy ourselves is important. Getting the proper amount of sleep is a must for relaxing the body. When we are sick, we are told to stay in bed. This is because sleep rejuvenates the body. Other exercises, like meditation and yoga, have also been proven to relax the body. However, more simple activities like painting or going out to a concert can be just as effective for relaxation. It all just depends on the person and what he/she enjoys doing. One thing is clear, however. We will be able to enjoy ourselves more if we keep our bodies and minds in tip top shape.