We all hear how important it is to stay fit and healthy. You go to the gym, run, do crunches, but are you doing anything to challenge your mental muscle? It always surprises me how health and fitness take a focus, but the brain is left on the back burner. The brain needs exercise to keep functioning at its best. Here are a few tips to make sure your mind is also looking good.
- Get some brain food. You know that eating right is good for your body, but did you know it is good for your brain too! Foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish and grass-fed animals) are instrumental in allowing your brain membranes to remain fluid and allow signals to easily pass. You also must eat enough food every day. If you are starving your body, you are also starving your mind. You also need to avoid some foods. There are studies showing that foods that are high in cholesterol are linked to brain diseases. Too much sugar and fat effect the brain as well as rest of the body. Eat brain food to make sure your memory and cognitive ability are functioning at their best.
- Challenge your brain. People are running on routine. They get up, do the same job, see the same people, and relax in the same ways. This may be comforting to them, but they are not stimulating the brain. Try something new! When you mind is doing something it doesn’t know how to do, it is building synapse. It can be simple such as crosswords, Sudoku, or other brain games or something even more challenging such as learning a new language or craft. To build new synapses you bust work your brain in ways that it has never worked before. Think of it like this, going to the gym and doing the same exercise will eventually quit producing results, so you must switch things up to keep your body (AND MIND) gaining progress.
- Remember? How often are you forgetting things? Do you try to purposely remember something? Your memory is a use it or lose it muscle. If you haven’t been challenging your brain or switching things up, it is likely that you haven’t been forced to remember much knew knowledge. You are probably doing your same routine, and don’t need to remember anything. Start small by trying to remember the details of a favorite day or event and then build up to trying to remember entire conversations. Can’t remember what you did yesterday? Start journaling your daily activities and review them in the morning. Get your memory working and challenge it each day.
- Focus! Do you notice that you can’t concentrate like you used to? This is another cognitive process that must be practiced and put to use. One of the best things to do to help keep your focus is to learn what is distracting your. If there is something else on your mind, you probably need to address it first. You will also need to practice concentrating to get better at it. You have to force yourself to stay on a topic of a certain length of time, and then give yourself a break to think of other things. This is more difficult than it sounds.
- Relax and sleep. This one sounds super simple and a no-brainer, but most people do not get enough sleep and do not take time to relax their bodies and brains with something they enjoy. Your mind needs a break as much as your body. REM sleep is critical for your brain to retain information and maintain cognitive function.
If you would like more tips building your mental muscle or need an affordable psychologist or psychiatrist, contact Dr. Parisi in the Chicago and surrounding areas including Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette