Success and happiness come down to your physical and mental health. Individuals with highly effective brain have habits which keep their minds and bodies healthy. Neuroscience research reveals how our brains are malleable and can be induced to change and improve regardless of age. Whether you are recovering from brain injury, a senior citizen or just health conscious developing these habits will help you maintain your mental and cognitive health.
1. Keep learning
Highly effective people are constantly learning and/or having new experiences. This creates new neuronal networks and synaptic connections in their brains building resilience and improving their ability to problem-solve. Like a muscle, the brain only performs better through continuous, deliberate use.
2. Develop a growth mindset
A growth mindset (instead of a fixed mindset) develops perseverance and tenacity in an individual's character. The repeated practice of a skill or persistent search of a solution allows neural networks to grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. According to Dr. Dweck who coined the term "growth mindset", when students (people) believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger.
Although your brain is only 2% of your body's mass it consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients you take in. People with highly effective brains eat healthy foods that are as close to nature as possible. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains and lots of water. Unhealthy foods, recreational drugs and having an unbalanced diet negatively impacts mental health; if not now, in the future.
4. Schedule enough time to re-charge
Many business leaders, entrepreneurs and inventors share that their insights came when they were not thinking about the problem at hand. These ideas usually emerged while they were sleeping, walking in nature or meditating. Schedule time in your day to let your mind relax and process the information it has gathered. Having a consistent, uninterrupted sleep schedule significantly improves cognitive function and overall brain health. Stress hormones such as cortisol can impair your ability to problem-solve, think clearly and generate new ideas. Taking time to relax decreases cortisol levels.
5. Take control of your environment
You may have heard the phrase "Your environment shapes your success". Did you know that your environment also influences you mental and cognitive health? People with highly effective brains are deliberate about who they spend their time with and what information they are expose their minds to (i.e., news, social media etc). Benjamin Hardy's book Willpower Doesn't Work goes into detail about the importance of structuring your environment for focus and success.
6. Positive Relationships
Brain health is not just about nutrition and taking time to relax, it is also impacted by the people you chose to spend your time with. Having an effective brain is about deliberately surrounding yourself with positive, creative and intellectually stimulating people.
7. Be Physically Active
What is good for your heart is good for your brain. Research shows that as little as 10 minutes of moderate daily exercise can improve your brain health. Structure your environment to make exercise part of your daily routine. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park a further so you can walk during a trip to the store. Check out our article covering the effects of physical exercise on the brain.
Laughing releases feel good hormones called endorphins. These hormones heals both the mind and body from the toxic effects of cortisol. Schedule, yes, schedule some time in your day to do something that makes you LOL. This could be watching comedy, engaging in a fun social activity or meeting an old friend for coffee.
Your brain is your biggest asset. Take care of it and it will take care of you. Consistently engage in activities which are good for your brain and it will remain mentally sharp well into old age.
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