Thursday, October 19, 2017

On a Mental Note

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

How are you feeling? It’s a good time to check in with your brain …

As weather shifts, so does our body’s circadian rhythm. Fluctuations occur around and within us, making it a logical time to focus on brain health and mental outlook. Here are some questions to get you started.

Are You Exercising Enough?

Clear your mind. Lift your spirits.

Lack of exercise can lead to dementia later in life. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These illnesses are linked to Alzheimer’s. Studies associate better performance in school and at work with a well-exercised body. Some believe increased circulation to brain cells from aerobic activity is responsible.

In addition to preserving cognitive functioning, exercise also helps ward off depression, anxiety, and everyday stress. Some studies report regular workouts benefit mild to moderate depression and anxiety as good as medication. Make it part of a treatment plan to see how you respond. The side effects are great, including increased self-esteem to facilitate further progress.

Power your brain with exercise. After only 25 minutes, you will have a brighter outlook, less stress, and more energy.

Do You Get Enough Sleep?

Give your body, and your brain, quality sleep. Ditch the remote.

Studies show severely sleep-deprived individuals are as dangerous behind the wheel of a car as those intoxicated with alcohol. This reflects sleep’s impact on brain function.

Binge-watching beyond bedtime causes more than just a sluggish body. Your brain struggles to perform tasks as well. Reaction time, concentration, and mood are negatively impacted by lack of sleep. Sleeping well before and after learning something new helps you better understand and retain it. Quality sleep also preps you for exercise, which further empowers the brain.

Is Your Diet Smart?

Food that is good for your body is good for your brain. Fatty, unhealthy foods can lead to an unhealthy weight and, eventually, an unhealthy mind. Obesity in middle age doubles your chance of having dementia later in life.

Brain candy.

Preserve brain power through a diet filled with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and leafy greens. A poor diet is associated with poor mental health, decreased memory, and impaired learning. Think how much smarter you can be just through diet and exercise. No cliff notes needed!

Remember portion control. Overeating any kind of food, superfoods included, has been shown to negatively impact cognitive function. (Don’t plan that career-changing presentation after a buffet lunch.)

Do You Challenge Your Brain?

Be limitless in your pursuits.

Learning new things and varying the old keeps you sharp. Like any other part of the body, the brain is ours for improving. It has an amazing ability to continuously absorb new information, store a lifetime of personal archives, and grow stronger. Nourish it with a healthy lifestyle. Give your brain plenty of opportunities to make new connections, with people, places, and activities.

A limited mindset will only achieve limited things. Reach farther than you imagine possible, and watch your brain surprise you. You are stronger than you think.

Sources

“Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe Exercise More Often for Depression, Anxiety, Research Suggests,” at sciencedaily.com.

Webmd.com.

Image Credits

Fruit & nuts: pixabay.com/en/breakfast-bowl-fruits-raspberries-926492

Explore: pixabay.com/en/girl-tourist-vacation-ladder-2220723

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