When we talk about wellness, the brain is often left out of the discussion.
But, in my humble opinion, it should be at the top of the list.
The fact is, if our brain isn’t functioning properly, we can’t function properly.
The brain is responsible for our decision making, our memory, and so many more critical pieces. It’s the reason why we may find ourselves sluggish or generally not in the best mood.
Thankfully, it can be easy to course-correct and get back on track to a healthy mind.
Here are seven simple and natural ways you can boost your brain and overall health.
Change Your Diet
We all know a healthy diet goes a long way, but did you know it even affects your brain health?
Studies have shown that the risk of depression is lowered when you eat a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, and omega3s. Especially when you limit unprocessed grains, lean meats, and dairy.
How does that work?
The brain produces a chemical called serotonin, which, amongst other things, regulates your appetite and helps regulate your mood. Over 90% of your serotonin is found in your gastrointestinal tract (GI). So, the fact your mood can be controlled by your diet is not far-fetched.
If you’re not looking forward to working out and need some extra motivation, here’s one that will definitely get you going.
Exercise helps release endorphins, which are hormones in the brain. When these hormones are secreted, they produce happy or euphoric feelings.
Need a little mood boost for your day? Get in a quick cardio session to feel your best all-around.
If you’re not up to a workout but really want to boost your mood, get out and go for a walk. Exposure to the sun produces Vitamin D, which raises your serotonin levels. You know, the chemical that helps elevate your mood.
There are way too many of us not getting the right amount of sleep. An adequate night’s sleep translates to seven hours or more a night. According to the CDC, nearly one-third of Americans aren’t getting that!
That statistic is frightening being that getting the right amount of sleep gives our brain permission to recover. While we are sleeping, we are getting rid of toxins that have accumulated in the brain, possibly lowering the risk of depressive symptoms, and improving our cognitive functions.
Luckily, with a change of habit, we can get back on track.
Here’s one key to getting good sleep - Set up a nightly routine, go to bed at the same time each night, then make sure you don’t get in bed unless you plan to go to sleep immediately.
Limit Alcohol Intake
It’s well documented that excessive drinking is harmful to your liver and other organs, but did you know it could have lasting psychological effects?
Alcohol works as a depressant, which means it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Want to avoid unwarranted mood side effects? Stick to the recommended one glass (or two for men) a day.
Mediation is a practice that has been in place for thousands of years and has recently been more at the forefront with endorsements from medical professionals. Studies have shown that a regular meditation schedule can help lower anxiety and depression.
Need a useful meditation guide? Check out my guide for my go-to meditation app.
This, by far, is my favorite method of taking care of the brain.
I’ve written comprehensively about how travel fights depression, and it really is worth noting again here. Traveling provides opportunities to relieve stress, which can help with anxiety and depression. Often, travelers find themselves wandering the cities they are visiting getting in exercise as a result, which boosts serotonin and endorphins in the body. And if you find yourself relaxing on a beach, you’re getting much-needed vitamin D, which also translates to that happy feeling from endorphins.
This list, by far, isn’t all-encompassing of the ways you can improve brain health. But it sure can get you started.
Let me know if you have any methods you prefer in the comments below!
P.S. These tips are in no way meant to replace the wise counsel of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist. If you have been given directives from any of these doctors, I urge you to follow them and supplement them with these tips.