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5 habits for a healthier mind

Mind, Body

Losing weight and gaining a healthier body continue to top U.S. new year’s resolution lists, but most of us forget that mental health is just as vital!

Today’s “easy button” mentality doesn’t always provide the challenge our brains need for healthy cognitive function. That’s why, in 2018, we encourage everyone to make mental health self-care a priority and check out these five ways to keep your mind healthy and fit for the new year:

  1. Sweat it out. When you work up a decent sweat, your body releases endorphins that can truly make us feel happier. Even if you’re not the workout type – you can find a physical activity that fits your lifestyle. Pump some iron, take a run or pick up a new sport. Maybe start by walking the dog! Whatever it is, just keep moving.
  2. Use your noggin. The brain is a muscle, which means it too needs daily exercise. As you age, natural damage will affect your brain, however, Margaret Gatz, from PLoS Medicine has found that actively using your brain can reduce your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Simple exercises like reading, drawing, even playing a fun board game can all help boost your short-term memory and keep your mind sharp for years to come.
  3. Get outside your comfort zone. Learning a new language or picking up a new instrument provides maximum cognitive benefit to your brain and ensures continuous growth. Step outside your comfort zone and choose something that requires your full attention. Exercising a broad range of brain stimulation helps produce long-term benefits. Who knows, maybe your new skill will lead to an exciting career change, provide opportunities to make new friends, or simply enrich your life with a new hobby.
  4. Skip the junk food. Your eating habits aren’t just linked to an improved physique. Consuming too much sugar and unnatural fat can make you feel tired, slow and permanently cloud your brain. That’s because artificial foods lack the nutrients our bodies crave to function at their best. It’s simple: Skip the junk food and stick to your fruits, veggies and lean proteins. If you want specific results, certain foods can be better than others. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which help rid our bodies of harmful organisms and protect our brain from degeneration. Walnuts include high levels of vitamins and minerals that help improve our mental state. Check out this list to read more about the foods that our brains love. Like our parents always said, you are what you eat!
  5. Cut yourself a break. Chronic stress is toxic to your brain function and can cause serious harm to your mental state, but resting your brain can help improve concentration, boost motivation and promote overall happiness. Start by cultivating simple daily habits like getting more sleep or soaking in a hot bath. Stuck at work? Step outside and catch a few rays of sunshine or take a five-minute walk to stretch your legs.

A healthy mind is the foundation to a healthy life. Start planning how to keep your brain in tip top shape this new year!