Your brain is busy! Take a moment to think about all the things this vital organ does per day. It controls your body processes, thoughts, emotions, movements, and pretty much everything in between. Exhausting, right? It’s the command center of your entire being, but it can't function entirely on its own!
You can care for your brain in so many small, yet impactful ways, including the foods you eat and your favorite hobbies. To mark Brain Awareness Week, make a commitment to get your brain in its best shape today, tomorrow, and forever.
Feed your brain.
The best diet for brain health is (pun intended) a no-brainer: healthy foods with lots of leafy greens, good fats, nuts, fatty fish, and fruit. Leafy greens contain good-for-your-brain nutrients including folate and lutein, while fatty fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and tuna are delicious and versatile; eat them fresh or canned. Colorful berries, especially blueberries, have been shown to support memory and cognition. Nuts make the perfect nibble between meals, so toss them into a trail mix with dried berries for a brain-boosting snack or add a handful to your leafy green salad.
Hit the snooze.
While you’re snoozing, your body is basically hitting the reset button on your daily functions, including your brain. You’re dreaming, yes, but your neurons are also busy doing all sorts of important tasks to set you up for the next day. This means a good night’s sleep isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Kick any bad habits.
Smoking, excessive drinking, living a sedentary lifestyle … they’ve all gotta go to keep your brain working at its best. Sit down and think about your day-to-day habits. How many of them would you classify as good for your wellness, and how many are hurting more than they’re helping? Figure out where you can improve your less-than-healthy habits. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping an eye on your blood pressure and blood sugar are also important not just for your brain, but your health in general. Every little bit counts, and your brain will thank you.
Challenge yourself.
To stay sharp well into your later years, you need to keep learning new things. And the list of things to learn is never-ending, truly! Pick up a paintbrush or an electric guitar. Revisit your childhood piano lessons. Learn to salsa or foxtrot. Start writing poetry or mastering the daily newspaper crossword. Take courses for your job or dive into a topic you’re interested in, like art history or geography. Download a language app and stick to it. Do puzzles with your friends or family. There are so many ways to work out your brain, and the best part is that they’re also fun!
Be more social.
Another component to caring for your brain is connecting with other people. Humans are social creatures, and being alone or lonely isn’t always good for your mental health, or your brain health in general. Regular socialization with friends, neighbors, coworkers, a volunteer group, or a meet-up group, for example, keeps your brain busy forming new connections (AKA remembering names!). It reduces stress and has even been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and potentially the risk of dementia.