Train Your Brain
We spend a lot of time trying to whip our bodies into shape, but what about training our brains and minds to reach our ultimate health goals? Truth is, our bodies are simply physical manifestations of our thoughts. The state of your body is a reflection of the state of your mind.
Here are my top 10 tips for training your brain like your body in order to reach optimal health and wellness:
1. Track your achievements
There are accomplishments we can check off our list every day, rather than focus on the things we still need to achieve. Acknowledging your daily accomplishments can be done by changing the tone in which you speak to yourself. If you say things to yourself like, “I am lazy” then those words will be expressed in your physical form. Speak kindly to yourself with words that are inspiring and positive to acknowledge your daily achievements.
2. Realize what you can’t control
Give careful thought to what you can and can’t control. When putting in this work in advance to identify your real priorities you can give a more realistic idea of what you can take on and achieve without feeling burned out. This will help you focus on areas where change is within your control.
3. Eat foods that fuel your brain
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds (especially walnuts) give your brain the boost in serotonin it needs and helps improve cognition. As 60 per cent of dried brain weight is fat, it is no wonder deficiencies in specific kinds of fat can have huge repercussions on intelligence and behaviour.
4. Walk it off
Walking for 20 minutes a day will lower blood sugar, control cortisol which impacts memory when elevated and increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good and allows us to think more clearly.
5. Leave your comfort zone
Getting really good at Sudoku? Time to move on! Brain teasers don’t form new neural connections once you’ve mastered them. So try something that’s opposite your natural skills: If you like numbers, learn to draw. If you love language, try a logic puzzle.
6. Manage your stress
Chronic stress and cortisol can shrink your brain’s memory centre. Interacting with others activates many parts of the brain — and learning new ways of coping forms new neural connections. Find a support group so you’re not dealing with stress on your own.
7. Drink Gotu Kola tea
This Ayurvedic herb, used for centuries in India, regulates dopamine. That’s the chemical that helps protect brain cells from harmful free radicals, boosts pleasurable feelings and improves focus and memory.
Deep breathing and relaxation lowers cortisol, protects memory, relaxes the nervous system and has been proven to aid in depression and anxiety treatment.
Try it first thing in the morning with a glass of water!
9. Change your frame of reference
It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to your favourite celebrity or skinnier versions of yourself, but those comparisons will only keep you down. When something is getting you down, concentrate on what is working so you can step away from a negative frame of reference.
10. Try a food break
Research shows that people who fast one day a month unlock a unique form of blood glucose that helps the brain more efficiently transmit information. Break your fast at sunset with brain-healthy foods such as blueberries, walnuts, and some lean sources of protein to keep your blood sugar steady.
Adele Tevlin is an executive weight-loss coaching expert in Toronto.