At this stage, we’ve all heard about a little thing called mindfulness for mental health. There are apps about it, programs which focus on it, and shelves in the bookstore dedicated to this topic alone. If we aren’t meditating, we’re all trying to be more aware in our daily lives. And, the results of this simple act on our mental health are astounding. In an age where more of us are suffering from issues such as anxiety, mindful actions can get us back to mental health in no time.
But, it’s important to remember that mindfulness can’t do it all for your mind. While it’s an effort worth taking, it very much deals with the emotional aspect of brain function. And, we all know that there’s more to mind health than that. In fact, an estimated 5.5 million people now suffer from mind-based problems like Alzheimer’s. That’s 1 in every ten people over the age of 65. And, this is an issue which no amount of mindful practice can put right. Still, paying ample attention to the risks may well be our best chance at keeping these issues clear, too.
Sadly, many sufferers of conditions like these end up in an Alzheimer’s care facility or relying on loved ones. That’s because this is a degenerative condition which can obliterate our ability to care for ourselves. And, it’s something that most of us would do whatever we could to avoid. Luckily, while mindfulness can’t keep this issue at bay, certain other pursuits can. By all means, get into an evening meditation routine to keep mental health in check. Then, take care of the following to keep your brain ticking away nicely in other areas, too.
We all know that exercise can take care of our mental health. But, did you know that going to the gym can help your mind in many other ways, too? According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even twenty minutes of exercise can work wonders for information processing and memory functions. This happens for a few different reasons, including hormone production and increased blood flow to the brain. Studies also suggest that exercise promotes growth in some regions of the brain. Add all this together, and you could argue that gym sessions make you smarter. They also help to keep future issues such as Alzheimer’s at bay. If you’ve struggled to get around to this until now, then, it might be time you bit the bullet. Even if you don’t think your body is worth it, your brain certainly should be.
We couldn’t talk about brain health without mentioning reading, could we? As Joseph Addison said, ‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.’ Perhaps he didn’t know about the mental benefits of getting fit, but that’s not the point. Reading works wonders for your brain. Unlike zoning out in front of the television, reading requires active participation. You need to literally flex your brain to both read the words on the page and bring that world to life. Reading can also work wonders for concentration. You’ll have no choice but to focus on that one task for the duration of this time. You won’t be able to pick up your phone or wander off to do something else without losing your place. If you do care about the emotional aspect of your mental health, it’s worth noting that reading is mindfulness of its own. We aren’t saying that you have to become a bookworm to feel the benefits of this, either. Even as little as thirty minutes to an hour of reading every few days can see your brain at its best for many years to come.
They do say that you lose it if you don’t use it, and there are few better ways to use your brain that through brain puzzles. While exercise can help mental function too, brain puzzles flex your neural functions. Whether you opt for crosswords or flat out brain teasers, these work wonders for lateral thinking. This is the part of our brains which allows us to look for creative solutions to the problems we face. And, this is often the part of our minds which we lose in later life. These is an effort worth taking when you consider that neurotransmitters die if we don’t use them often. If you’re never challenging yourself, you could lose the ability to think in this way altogether. So, don’t let it happen. At least a few times a week, set your brain a challenge like this. You needn’t even go out of your way to come up with clever riddles to make this work. Merely sitting down a Sudoku or even a Rubik’s cube would more than do the trick.
The right diet
We all know that diet plays a massive part in mental health and the whole mindfulness thing. But, it can also make a huge difference in other aspects of brain health. We’ve all heard of brain foods, after all, and these are more than just old wives tales. Fish is a big one and with good reason. Fish which is high in omega three fatty acids can work wonders for our minds. That’s because about 60% of the brain consists of fat, half of which is omega 3. When you eat fish, then, you literally feed your mind. Other foods worth looking out for include blueberries, turmeric, and pumpkin seeds. You may also be surprised to find that coffee can also decrease the risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s. That’s because of antioxidants and caffeine content. Instead of trying to cut out that daily cup, then, you have medical reasons to keep it up. Everything in moderation, as they say.
While there are no guarantees with anything, especially our brains, these steps could take you far. With a bit of luck, they’ll keep you compos mentis for the rest of your days.