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9 Unconventional (But Scientifically Proven) Tips For A Healthy And Happy Brain

9 Unconventional (But Scientifically Proven) Tips For A Healthy And Happy Brain

We are increasingly expected to deliver exceptional results at work and in school. We are constantly straining our brains to make sure we give our best, and we try to outperform to become better versions of ourselves. But what we forget is to take care of our brain.

As the control center of our body, our brain is one wonderfully crafted machine. Weighing at about three pounds in the average adult, our brain is one of the largest and most important organs in the human body. Think about it: the brain does it all. It controls our emotions, coordinates our movements, and even receives and sends nerve signals to other body parts so we function well physiologically. This is why it is so important to take care of it.

Here are nine scientifically proven tips to make sure your brain stays healthy and happy for many more years to come.

1. Eat more whole and nutritious food.

Research has shown that the food we eat can greatly influence our cognitive processes and emotions. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can support brain function and mental fitness. A diet high in saturated fat, on the other hand, can increase the risk of neurological dysfunction. Understanding what we eat and consume on a daily basis can lead to a healthy and happy brain.

For a start, try to consume more whole and natural foods, such as eggs, grass-fed dairy, organic meats, fruits and vegetables. Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in oily fish and walnuts, and stay away from processed foods as much as possible.

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2. Spend more time with your loved ones.

A study done in 2008 by the Harvard School of Public Health has shown that social interactions and good relationships build a foundation to delay memory loss as we age. Participants aged 50 or older were told to take a memory test, and at the same time researchers measured their social integration based on marital status, volunteering experience and contact with parents, children and neighbors. It was found that those engaged in social activities had slower rates of memory decline.

Getting enough social interaction with the people who matter to us is crucial for the brain to stay healthy and happy. Spend more time with your family and loved ones.

Read more on Lifehack: 10 Ways To Spend More Quality Time With Your Partner

3. Pick up a second language.

Picking up a second language can keep your brain healthy and happy. If you can only speak one language, try challenging yourself this year and pick up another one. Research has shown that studying a new language can improve our brain’s cognitive skills, preventing memory loss in the future. Apart from picking up a second language, learning to play a guitar or try your hand in something new that you’ve never done before can also promote healthy brain function and happiness.

Do something new and challenge yourself. Your brain will thank you for that!

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4. Try HIIT.

CLB-6 Marines, sailors enjoy food and fun during field meet
    High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, improves both bodily and brain health in half the time traditional exercise programs can. HIIT involves brief bouts of intense workouts followed by a short rest period and can be done on any cardio equipment, such as the treadmill or cross trainer, or by doing several body-weight exercises. A study that involved adults who did HIIT twice a week and strength training twice a week for four months has shown increased brain oxygenation, VO2 max and cognitive function. That’s enough to keep your brain smiling.

    More Lifehacks: 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Spending Less Time Working Out

    5. Get enough sleep.

    We all know sleeping is important for our bodily physiological function. Science has shown that skimping on sleep can seriously mess up our cognitive functions, leading to undesirable accident risks. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of snooze time and wake at the same time every morning. This keeps your body clock, or circadian rhythm, steady thus making us more productive in the day and our brain happier in the long run.

    Also on Lifehack: 10 Unconventional (But Great) Sleeping Tips You’ve Probably Never Heard

    6. Learn to meditate or practice yoga.

    In other words, relax! Taking things slow and eliminating things that are not needed in your life can keep your brain healthy. We live a fast-paced lifestyle and over time it can be detrimental to our health by increasing stress and unnecessary negative effects on our body. A study done by the University of California (Los Angeles) has also shown that yoga and meditation can not only reduce stress levels in normal individuals but also in those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reduce the demands you place on yourself and your brain will thank you later.

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    One of the ways to do this is to learn how to meditate or to practice yoga regularly. Meditation even for several minutes a day can force your body into relaxation mode. If you’ve never done yoga or meditation before, start slow by building small habits.

    Want to learn more? Try this: Meditation For Beginners: 11 Easy Tips

    7. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake.

    While caffeine is typically our go-to solution when we need a mid-day pick me up, it can be detrimental to our health over the long run. A research study has shown that while caffeine is a short-term stimulant, over the long term it can narrow the blood vessels in our very important temporal lobes and prefrontal cortex—the area of our brain that if damaged can lead to poor memory and severe depression.

    A cup of coffee a day or a couple glasses of wine every week is not that bad, but if you’re drinking more than that, it’s time to reduce your intake to promote health and happiness for your brain.

    8. Save at least $2 a day.

    While saving money may not have a direct impact on brain function, saving money is a good starting point in setting financial goals. Science has shown that having a well-developed plan for financial security can stimulate your brain’s executive functions, which are responsible for complex functions like scheduling and organization.

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    Be aware of where your money is going, keep track of your finances, and don’t be afraid to spend on yourself (within reason) after a month of hard work. Your happiness will bring joy to your brain and improve its health in the long run!

    9. Add coconut oil to your diet

    This might be fairly new, but a very recent study has shown that adding coconut oil to our diet can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, keeping Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s at bay. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) fats, which have been shown to increase brain function from the first dose.

    I personally find coconut oil tastier than other options when used in cooking and baking, and with scientifically proven studies like this—and more coming up in the near future—there are more reasons for us to include it in our diet regularly.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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