Ten minutes a day to keep your brain healthy!
Keeping your brain healthy is just as important to your overall wellbeing as keeping your body healthy, and doing each one can help with the other. And it’s quite easy to work brain maintenance into your schedule by adding small tasks or making slight changes to things you already do. Maintain healthy habits now to give your brain a long, healthy life.
Keep your body healthy
A balanced diet allows maintenance of your brain cells. Your brain is mostly made of fat, so make sure to eat enough unsaturated fats and fatty acids (found in seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, and seafood). Lots of different vitamins and minerals are used in brain tissue as well, so a balanced diet will make sure you get them all. Take supplements if necessary, and drink plenty of water.
Eating anti-oxidants is said to improve focus, problem-solving and memory.
Watch your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and sugar intake; if any of these are too high they can damage or block your blood vessels, which can affect the flow of water and nutrients to your brain cells.
Getting enough sleep will keep your brain alert during the day. Our need for sleep varies, but most adults require seven to nine hours; teens and children require more.
Exercise helps you sleep, improves blood flow, and can improve your mood, memory, and learning ability. Even just ten minutes of brisk walking a day has a measurable effect.
Keep your brain active
Just as your body needs exercise, so does your brain. Here are some ways to keep it ticking over well:
- Read – it doesn’t matter too much what you read, but if it’s interesting you’ll be more likely to stick with it and pick up information. Subscribe to a fun magazine, or take a trip to the library.
- Solve puzzles – there are lots of different kinds. Try a general puzzle book, then search for books or websites specifically about your favourite kinds. Crosswords, logic problems, maths equations, jigsaws, and so on are all good, so long as they challenge you. Playing chess is also good for keeping your mind sharp.
- Learn new things – once we’re out of school we often end up neglecting this. Sometimes, we think learning is dull but that depends on what you’re learning. Try a free course on Udemy or Skillshare, learn a new language, or find out the latest useful discoveries in plain English on livescience.com.
- Change the way you do things you already do so you really have to pay attention to them. Try swapping hands for tasks like writing or eating.
Being with others is good for your mind and your mood; studies have shown that ten minutes of friendly conversation boosts task performance. In lockdown or periods of social distancing, we’re obviously less able to do that, but meet up with your social bubble when you can it reach out via Zoom, Skype, Facetime or similar. If you live with other people, eat together and try to set up shared activities like board games. Say hello to your neighbours when you see them, and to workers when you shop; even little acknowledgements like this can help.
This means paying attention to what you’re doing in the present moment, not worrying about the future or past. To learn more, see our blog on how to 'do' mindfulness right HERE, then try these ways to practice it:
- Meditation – this can be done sitting or while walking. Try combining it with your daily exercise.
- Journalling – see our article telling you how.
- Spending time in nature – if you can’t access woodlands or beaches, a garden or park will do just as well. See this article for more information.
And remember that if you'd like me to show you how to use mindfulness you can book a one-off session to learn. Just get in touch to see what's involved.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and The Hypnotherapist's Companion, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter: Rachel Waller.