How is it possible something you can’t even see can not only harm your brain, yet also kill you? If you have read anything about my journey to reach optimal wellness and well-being, it is because I took my stress head on.
This month I’ve focused my message on the brain, all about it, and why it’s crucial to care for it. So far, I’ve outlined six ways you can improve your brain health – today.
- Get to you know your brain and how it works. Know when it isn’t quite right. Learn ways to fix it when it’s not quite right.
- Embrace health as a way of life. Stop the short-term challenges, crash diets/cleanses.
- Become a lifelong learner. Exercise your brain in new ways. Learn fresh skills. Get curious every day.
- Sweat daily. We need to exercise every single day, ladies. The days of your 20s and 30s and “not having time” are O-V-E-R. It’s for your brain!
- Get your sleep. Sleep is the foundation for your health, your heart, your brain, and your overall mood. Stop staying up too late.
- Eat nourishing and brain-healthy foods. Not only is eating a variety of colors and food “the way it grows” good for your physique, your brain needs it too!
My next three tips are all a bit tougher to take on, I’ll admit. Yet, the overall benefits of one, two, or three could mean the difference between reaching those wellness goals or not – and save your brain from unhealthy conditions. Take them on slowly, one new habit at a time.
7. Grab your stress by the horns and address it. If you knew stress could help you lose that 10, 20, 40 pounds, would you take it on? Chronic cortisol (the stress hormone) pumping into your system is making your brain work overtime. Layer onto the over-scheduled, somewhat anchorless days you may be feeling, and your brain is desperately trying to calm itself – all day long. Furthermore, chronic stress damages the cells in your brain, reduces blood flow, makes you foggy, challenges your memory, and often leads to weight gain. Gone unaddressed, chronic stress leads us to treat our stress with drugs, alcohol, and poor food consumption. All three are forms of a drug to help us “ease” the pain we feel inside. Chronic stress is also responsible for middle-of-the-night awakenings, which leads to a chronic overwhelm existence. No fun. Get on it.
8. Decrease or stop drinking alcohol. Alcoholism runs deep in my husband’s and my family. I’ve watched loved ones struggle with it. I too have had many a week, month, and year when I drank too much. I’ve even recently fallen prey to a small glass of wine nightly. For me, my workouts and my health are too important. My goal is to get as strong as possible, to do all I can with this one life I am blessed to have. I had my kids later in life and want to actively live so I can watch their lives unfold. So, I cannot taint my system with too much alcohol. It’ll taint my challenging workouts. The short-term gain is not worth it. I also don’t want my children to see me drinking either too often or too much. I am far from perfect on this front, yet I have done the work. I can go days and weeks without it and have tested myself in that vein. Train daily (tip #4) and you won’t be able to train hard and drink very much! Alcohol has no nutritional value and has seven calories per gram, while even carbohydrates have just four. It causes sleep disturbances and makes you hungry. Last, a Johns Hopkins study found that people who drank alcohol daily have smaller brains. Size matters with the brain.
9. Take stock of your social life. Social relationships have a dramatic impact on your health. As a matter of fact, the company you keep has a huge impact on your health. If your friends are unhealthy, the higher the likelihood of you being unhealthy.
Developing a healthy brain is dependent on the company you keep. Those who encourage you, support you, and are positive influences are on your team. Those who do not, you can lose.
Positive social support helps us deal with stress, increases motivation, and helps us make healthy decisions. The converse is also true.
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