According to Psychology Today, “More than 6 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and that number is expected to grow significantly as the U.S. population ages. As a result, researchers across the globe are trying to find ways to strengthen aging brains and prevent dementia later in life.”
This is a bit shocking, right?
If you’re like me—an overachiever and self-professed recovering perfectionist—you’re all over “what can I do to help my brain?!”
Well, you’re in luck with this blog post, because I have some really practical (and surprisingly easy) ways for you to improve your brain health.
Here are the best ways for you to improve your brain health…
Check out this podcast episode on a similar topic—Mindset Hacks.
How To Improve Brain Health
There are five huge ways you can improve your brain health, and you may already be doing some of them.
This list includes basic things like “eating healthy” and “exercising,” but just because they’re actions we hear often, doesn’t mean they’re not super powerful.
If you really incorporate these five actions into your life, you’re going to make an enormous difference in your long term brain health.
1. Regular Physical Exercise
The first action to take to improve your brain health is to get regular physical exercise.
Research shows that aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which improves your neurocognitive functions and can reduce the risk of mental illnesses, such as dementia. Damaged blood vessels increase the risk of dementia and strokes.
It also reduces your risk for things like high blood pressure and heart disease. Your risk of developing heart conditions lessens with regular physical exercise but always seek medical advice from your doctor should you have any concerns.
Physical activity will also reduce stress and promote your overall mental health.
Even if you’re finding yourself in a season with little ones, where it’s hard to make time for the gym, a simple 20 minute walk every day can get your blood flowing and improve your brain health.
2. The Right Amount Of Sleep For Your Body
Second, it’s vital to get the right amount of sleep. If you don’t, your brain will be slow and foggy.
Have you ever been so tired, it’s hard to think straight?
I for suuuuure have, and it’s something I notice a huge difference with compared to when I do get good sleep.
This is because thinking takes energy. You actually burn calories when you think. If you’re so tired already, your brain isn’t going to have anywhere to get the energy it needs to work properly. And over time, this can have lasting negative effects on your mental health.
Personally, I know if I’m a little tired, and I’m trying to make a decision, I let myself get some rest first and then I decide when my mind is clear in the morning. It really works beautifully.
- Decision Making (podcast)
- How Value Affects Decision Making (blog post)
- Scarcity Vs. Abundance Mindset (free course)
3. Increasing Your Social Connections
The third way to improve your brain health is to increase your social connections.
Your brain is wired for connections. This is why self isolation is one of the worst punishments to man. As humans, we love connection. Your brain finds pleasure and a sense of safety when it’s connected socially to other humans.
It’s not necessarily about quantity as it is about quality. You can have many acquaintances and not be connected. What you want to do instead is focus on quality connections. Increase the quality of your relationships by going deeper, being more vulnerable, and loving more on purpose. Your brain will LOVE this.
- Separation Vs. Connection (podcast)
- A Quick Way To Have Better Relationships (blog post)
- How To Fix Your Relationship (free course)
4. Eating A Balanced Diet
Fourth is to eat a well balanced diet.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried nearly a thousand different ways of eating (okay maybe not a thousand, but a lot).
You love health and wellness, and it’s part of your values.
But if you’re a woman in the US, part of our culture around food for women is to always “eat less.” Have you ever thought about this? Eating less isn’t the goal, my friend. Eating right is the goal.
In fact, eating sugar can be linked to cognitive decline and can ultimately result in memory loss. It gives us that quick sense of pleasure that our brain thinks it needs, but really it doesn’t need it at all.
Food is good! It’s delicious, and it’s so important for yes, your body, but also for your brain.
- Emotional Eating (podcast)
- How To Stop Emotionally Eating (blog post)
- Overcoming Self Doubt (free course)
5. Avoiding Drugs And Alcohol
The final way to improve your brain health is to avoid drugs and alcohol.
Even the “social drinking” that you do on the weekends has a horrible long term effect on your brain health.
And if you’re like me, you used to think: “but everyone drinks!” When the reality is, 50% of the adult population does not drink booze at all.
So! I encourage you to join the non-drinkers over here, where I am, and give it a try. You can always go back. (But trust me, you won’t want to!)
- I Quit Drinking Alcohol (podcast)
- How To Drink Less Alcohol (blog post)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
Brain Health Activities
In addition to actions you can take to improve your brain health, there are activities and exercises that improve focus and memory.
Up first is reading.
It sounds obvious, but actually reading a book (as opposed to listening to an audiobook) puts your brain to work. It’s like a power workout for your mind. Reading increases your cognitive abilities and allows you to think and problem solve on a deeper level.
I learned this when I took a speed reading class, where I learned how to read better. It actually included lots of mental exercises that help improve your brain’s performance. You can read more about it in the How To Think And Read Faster And Better blog post.
2. Music And Dancing
The second activity is music and dancing.
Think about how much joy you feel when your favorite kind of music comes on. Or, the way your body feels when you’re dancing.
I know personally, it feels amazing—almost like I’m vibrating on a higher level.
This isn’t just good for exercise, but it’s also good for shifting your thoughts and feelings, almost instantly.
This improves your brain health.
- Resource:15 Ways To Increase Your Happiness Today (blog post)
The third activity is meditation.
My favorite app and site for easy and practical meditation is through Calm. It’s a simple way to integrate mindfulness into your day to day life.
Meditation is based on letting go of the thoughts and feelings pulling you (and your energy) in all sorts of directions. It allows you to stabilize internally, letting go of the thoughts and feelings, while holding steady on to yourself.
One of my favorite books on this is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. While it’s not a meditation book per se, it’s incredibly helpful for learning exercises based on meditative techniques, such as watching your mind and letting go.
4. Coach Yourself In A Life Coaching Program
Finally, learn how to coach yourself in a life coaching program to enhance your brain health and mental function.
This is what I help the women in Grow You do (my virtual life coaching program).
With a life coach trained in optimizing your brain health, you’ll get a mentor and guide who can help you see your own mind.
The result is you’ll change how you experience the world. You’ll have less tension in your relationships, you’ll feel better, you’ll achieve more, and you’ll find that your overall mental health is so much better than it was before (even if you don’t find there’s a “problem” right now).
A life coach helps you see what you can’t see. My life is infinitely better because of the work I’ve done with life coaching, which is why I’m oh so very passionate about it!
A Final Note!
Keeping your brain healthy is so much more important than we traditionally make it.
Since our minds are what create our experience in the world (how we interpret everything), it follows that prioritizing our brain health should be at the top of the list.
The good news is that taking care of your brain can be really fun—adding in reading, exercising, sleep, and life coaching are just a few of the ways listed above that can have a profound impact in your life for years to come.