New Year’s Goal: A Healthy… Brain?
Usually getting our bodies healthier is near or at the top of our goal list for the new year. That's obviously crucial as our bodies are the vehicle in which we do everything else in life. However, it can be easy to overlook our mental health. We often take our brains for granted. Ironically, we don't even think about it because as long as it's working reasonably well, we just continue on throughout our lives.
In reality, your brain governs every moment of your life--from deciding whether or not to eat healthier and exercise, to making business decisions, how sparkling of a conversationalist you are, and even manages functions you don't even choose--like breathing. If you don't care for your brain--it can affect everything else. So, in the grand scheme of caring for your health in the new year, here's a few tips to make sure the gray matter is at the top of the list:
Reading boosts cognitive function. Perhaps you've decided to read more in the new year. Good call, because in addition to being a great escape and stress reliever, reading can help improve your vocabulary and increase your emotional intelligence. You can read more about that from Psychology Today here.
Turn out the lights and go to bed. Once you've finished reading that next chapter and you're nodding off, but fighting the urge in order to keep reading, stop. Go to bed. As a night owl myself, I have to discipline myself to get the sleep I need. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, as well as many others, have confirmed the importance of the proper amount of sleep when it comes to brain health. It invigorates you, helps balance your mood, and may possibly help protect against Alzheimer's disease.
That exercise you're doing for your body helps your brain, too. Yep, that exercise increase your blood flow--obviously helpful in many ways--and may help you learn and think more clearly.
That also goes for the healthier diet you're planning to consume in the new year. The protection a lighter, more vegetable-friendly diet gives you from stroke and other brain disease can't be overstated.
Keep learning new things. One of my goals this year is to learn a foreign language--that checks the box. So does learning the game of poker, picking up woodworking, or anything constructive that makes you use your mind in a new way--every day.
Ready to learn more? (Look at you, you're already boosting your brain health.) The Cleveland Clinic has a succinct list you can check out here.