When I ask clients what good health looks like to them there is an overwhelming response about food, exercise, and weight loss. Yes! These are all key components to good health, but they are not the whole answer. I mean just think back to the days of the non-fat diet. People may have lost weight for a minute but what did that non-fat diet do to the inside of their body? There are plenty of articles and studies that have suggested low fat diets are actually bad for us, but then again we can find articles and studies that suggest high fat diets are also bad for us. So what is good for us? What is the answer for ultimate good health?
I believe when we take a holistic approach that supports how our brain functions the whole body goal of well-being aligns. So, let’s put brain health as a top priority and see how we feel and function.
Your brain may only make up about 2% of your total body however it demands 20% of your body's oxygen and blood flow. Your brain is an energy sucker. So, anything that impairs blood flow is drastically impacting your brain function because it limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients it can utilize. So here are some tips to allow your brain to function at its highest and best, so you can have ultimate good health:
1. Exercise is a must - yes, we know this! When you take just 10-minutes to move your body and increase your heart rate your heart pushes blood to the brain. Also, exercise is a great way to reduce stress and enhance mood.
2. Another great tip is to give your brain a break. The demands of homeschooling, working from home, maintaining a clean home, and all of life's other demands can take a toll on you. Remember to give yourself a quick mental break every 90 minutes. "The ideal amount of time to work on a single task is 75-90 minutes." according to Bob Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity and a lecturer at MIT. So throwing in a quick five minute break to breathe, stand up, and stretch can be a great way to restore your brain's energy.
3. Clean your space! Having an organized work area and home can actually help lower your internal stress level. This may mean taking a Sunday to organize or hiring someone to help out. If you have kids you could even delegate the tasks at home. The key is to not take on all the work yourself and to ask for help. By doing this you are creating a sense of support and teaching teamwork.
4. Practice mental hygiene. Yes! When your brain gets cluttered with negative thinking and your inner-bully takes over, press the mental breaks and use what we call the flip-it mentality. When a negative thought comes into your head replace it or flip-it into a positive thought. Also, change up your scenery when your inner-bully starts taking over. Step outside for some fresh air or go for a walk. Turn up a good song and start dancing. You may not "feel" like doing either of these things but they will help shift that negative thinking. Just give it a try.
5. Stick to a sleep schedule. Going to bed around the same time each day and waking about the same time each day can help you keep a healthy sleep schedule.
6. Stay hydrated! Drink half your weight in ounces of water daily. "Being dehydrated by just 2% impairs performance in tasks that require attention, immediate memory skills, and physical performance." according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
7. Develop strong supportive relationships! We are beings that need connection and who we connect with impacts our mood and health.
8. Nutrition is key! Eat colorful foods, such as, blueberries, spinach and mixed greens, walnuts, salmon, and other whole foods that are rich in color. Proper nutrient levels are key to keeping your brain functioning well.
Taking care of your brain health is a key component to living a healthy happy life. Just remember it is the combination of many things that allow for good health and starting with your brain is a great jumping off point.