This month’s focus has been on promoting a healthy lifestyle in honor of National Physical Fitness Month. I thought that the discussion wouldn’t be complete without a post on mental health. Our brains play a huge role in who we are and how we interact with others. Take some time to mind your mental health this week.
The human brain is one of the more fragile organs of the body and God saw fit to house it in the hardest shell imaginable; the skull. As we age our brain ages as well and from time to time signals can get mixed up or get lost somewhere along the way. A lifestyle that includes proper diet and nutrition coupled with mind/body practices can slow the effects of stress and age on the brain.
Foods that Stimulate Healthy Brain Function
- Blueberries – reduce the oxidative stress that is thought to lead to Alzheimer and dementia.
- Deep Water Fish – like salmon are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which are crucial to maintaining brain function.
- Nuts & Seeds – are a good source of Vitamin E which protects against mental decline as you age.
- Tea – promotes blood flow and contains antioxidants which can lead to better focus and mood.
Just like you can train your body, you can train your brain. The principle practice is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is having an awareness of the present moment and living in it. Here are a few exercises you can do that will keep you grounded in the present and build new pathways in your brain.
- Try using your non-dominate hand to do things like eat or brush your teeth
- Break your daily routines; mix it up a bit and try something new.
- Find a new route to work and home a couple of days a week.
- Read a new genre every month; if you read non-fiction try fiction every now and then.
Studies show that physical exercise coupled with mental exercise produced rapid improvement in both. Try the following Mind/Body practices to increase mindfulness, muscle tone as well as alleviate stress.
The Little Things You Can Do Today
- Take a Class: If you you’ve always wanted to learn how to swim or to do pottery, now is the time.
- Try something new: Anything, from eating something you don’t normally eat to going somewhere you’ve never been.
- Begin to practice mindfulness: When ever you become too preoccupied with the past or the future bring your mind back to the present moment and live there.
Until Next Time,
Nicole D.P. McLaughlin, PT
- Does brain training work? Yes, if it meets these 5 conditions (sharpbrains.com)
- What is their combined effect of physical and mental training? (sharpbrains.com)
- Fitness: Improve Mental Health with Physical Health (davidvalefitness.wordpress.com)
- How Physical Activity Benefit’s A Child’s Mental Development (howtolearn.com)