Practicing Mindful Wellness: Helping our brains keep up with life's demands
Perry Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and the Director of the Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at The Brain Institute at the University of Utah.
Our brains, as well as our bodies, need help keeping up with all of life's relentless demands. To combat feeling sluggish or overextended, it’s important to practice mindful wellness — a focus on both physical and mental health.
It's very telling that a recent consumer survey found that Americans fear reduced brain function (57%) more than they fear physical decline (43%).1 Additionally, more than half of the survey respondents – comprised of millennials, Generation X and baby boomers – admit to having trouble remembering names, while 30 percent admit to not remembering friends’ or family members’ birthdays.
While our responsibilities in life are not likely to decrease, it’s important to plan ahead in order to help yourself keep track of important items on seemingly endless to-do lists. Taking care of yourself is also key, so here are six brain-boosting tips to incorporate into your daily routine to keep you on the ball.
Eat food with Omega-3s. Eat healthy meals with lots of omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and B vitamins (like fish, olive oil, fruits and vegetables), which have been found to deliver more nutrients to the brain.
Exercise. Make time for regular exercise a few times a week. Exercise can help redirect negative energy and reduce tension, which helps the brain process information easier.
Make smart choices on-the-go. While it’s tempting to rush out to work or school, don’t skimp on nutrients. Choose healthy breakfast bars and smoothies for a healthy start to the day.
Consider supplements. Take a daily supplement that includes citicoline, a cognitive enhancer that can improve focus and attention, especially if you’re not getting enough nutrients from food alone.
Use downtime productively. During downtime (a rarity!) play brain games like crossword puzzles or Sudoku to relax and stay sharp.
Stay social. According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping up with social activity helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss.
In addition, it's important not to underestimate the significance of planning ahead – especially when it comes to what we put inside of our bodies. Look for creative ways to add nutrient-rich foods to your diet and consider including daily supplements to your regimen when busy schedules don’t allow for necessary nutrient intake.
Practicing mindful wellness can help you stay sharp, and take your healthy lifestyle beyond the basics.
1} Wakefield Research, “Most Americans Fear Mental vs. Physical Decline,” May 2014, Kyowa Hakko