As December begins to wind down, many of us are beginning to look at the coming year and consider the ways we might improve our quality of life. We encourage this; it’s an ideal time to take stock of the areas of your life that could benefit from some subtle shifts in perspective, as well as new habits. There are endless ways you can support your brain health in 2019; take a look at four of our favorites! Get your body moving A recent study published by the American Academy of Neurology indicates that aerobic exercise may play a significant role in reversing and preventing cognitive decline. We often associate aerobic exercise with cardiovascular health, but it turns out that the two are more closely linked than most of us realize. Particularly when combined with a heart-healthy diet, even a little exercise each day can result in significantly improved brain function in less than six months. Remember that the goal is sustainability; there’s no need to start training for a marathon. Even a leisurely walk each day will improve your brain health over time. Set a goal you know you can achieve. Quick successes will strengthen your motivation, and you can always set new goals as you gain strength and endurance. Get your mind moving Make time every day for intentional mental activity. At this point in history, we have many options available to us that put our minds on autopilot, and much of our free time is spent doing those things. We can watch television or scroll through social media accounts for an unlimited amount of time, activities that require very little concentration or active comprehension. To keep our brains healthy, we must exercise our mental muscles. Like any other muscle, if they go unused too often or for too long, our minds can atrophy over time. Flex those muscles by doing crossword puzzles in the morning, having a long conversation with someone you love, playing a strategy-based board game with your kids, or picking up a good book before bed. Making use of your mind will keep it sharp. Prioritize sleep Our brains do some of their best work while we are at rest. As we move through the various stages of sleep, the brain does many critical jobs: clearing waste, filing memories, and categorizing knowledge are just a few. Getting enough quality sleep isn’t only about providing our body with necessary rest; it also gives our brain time to do the full scope of its work. Here are a few simple ways to improve your sleep in the coming year:
- Maintain a cool, dark, silent environment in which to sleep.
- Turn your electronic devices off one hour before bedtime.
- Switch to decaffeinated beverages after lunch, or eliminate them entirely if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine.