7 HABITS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BRAIN

1. Exercise 

Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. If you exercise regularly, it increases the number of blood vessels that bring oxygenated blood to the regions of the brain that are responsible for thought. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells. This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which allows you to have better performance. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day – that’s just 2% of your day.

2. Be Social

It’s about connecting with other people - in person. Positive relationships with friends, family and colleagues have been associated with lower risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.

3. Play and Have Fun

Adults can play too – allowing yourself time to play, joke and laugh actually improves brain function. However, you might like to play, whether it’s a round of golf, table football or going to the cinema, play takes the player out of a sense of time or place and offers a sense of engagement and pleasure.  It helps you to reduce stress and contribute to your overall wellbeing. Playing also helps you make light of everyday situations that you might normally find stressful. The good news is, everyone can learn to play and it’s important that you do.

4. Tune In

In our ever-growing busy lives, it is important to put time aside for yourself. Find something that allows you to tune in to your body and stop your mind from wandering between tasks. Try mindfulness or meditation and train your brain how to focus and stay calm.

5. Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important for restoring your brain function. Sleep plays an important role in allowing your brain to ‘re-set’. Deep, slow breathing and slow brain waves allows the muscles in your brain to relax and recuperate. Sleep experts recommend you get at least 7 hours sleep a night.

6. Downtime

There is a reason why our best ideas come to us in the shower. It is important to give yourself time to have reflective, unconscious thought. You are more likely to think creatively when you are doing something that does not require you to use your conscious brain power. When you have downtime your prefrontal cortex relaxes, the region of the brain controlling goals, decisions and behaviour. Your brain then switches to ‘default mode network’ DMN – which frees-up the pathways between the regions of your brain. This creates the perfect playground for your brain to make subconscious, creative connections enabling you to have those epiphany moments.

7. Focus

We often find a multitude of distractions at any one time. Multi-tasking can be an interference, preventing us from accomplishing any of the tasks we set out to do. Try and focus on one thing at a time. Set goals and time limits around tasks and plan on when to expend that important brain energy.

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 V 2.0  Last updated January 2020