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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 July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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