In today's fast-paced world, maintaining optimal brain health has become increasingly important. In this post I explore various techniques and hacks that are easy to implement into your daily routine to enhance your cognitive function, improve focus, and achieve overall mental well-being. I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite brain health hacks. So find a comfortable space and let's dive into the world of brain optimization!
1. Rise and Shine, Phone-Free:
Starting your day by checking your phone may seem harmless, but it can disrupt the natural calm brain frequencies you experience upon waking that promote relaxation and creativity. When you look at your phone first thing in the morning, you skip the natural meditative alpha-theta state and jump straight into beta waves associated with alertness, activity, and – if high beta – stress.
To optimize your brain's functioning, allow yourself to bask in the calmness of the morning by avoiding screens for at least 30 minutes. While in the alpha-theta meditative state, it’s a great opportunity to journal, brainstorm, or brain dump anything on your mind! You’ll be surprised how the brain will be percolating with information and ideas!
2. Supercharge with Brain-Boosting Supplements:
Certain supplements have been shown to support brain health and enhance cognitive performance. Here are some of my tried & true favorite supplements that are also backed by science:
Fish Oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil aids in maintaining brain structure and function. It supports memory, learning, and overall brain health.
MCTs (Medium-Chain Triglycerides): These healthy fats found in coconut oil and other sources provide quick energy for the brain, promoting mental clarity and focus.
Probiotics: A healthy gut is essential for brain health. Probiotics help maintain a balanced gut microbiome, positively impacting mood and cognition.
Vitamin D: Adequate levels of vitamin D are crucial for cognitive function, helpful for production of serotonin, have anti-inflammatory properties, and aid in preventing age-related cognitive decline. Be sure to find one with K2 as these two nutrients work synergistically to support overall health, particularly in relation to calcium regulation.
B Vitamins: Support energy production, neurotransmitter synthesis, brain development, cognitive function and protection against oxidative stress.
Magnesium L-threonate: Great for neurotransmitter regulation, neuroprotection, and blow flow regulation. This is the leading form of magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier, and has great natural calming effects.
3. Hydration: Quench Your Brain's Thirst:
Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated?! Staying hydrated is vital for optimal brain function. Your brain is made up of about 75% water, and it’s been found that even just a 2% decrease can have a negative effect on the brain and impair cognitive function.
Make it a goal to drink water consistently throughout the day - it’s recommended to drink at least 8 cups. Set yourself up for success by finding a water bottle that reminds you to drink a cup of water each hour, here are some of my favorites! Make it crave-worthy by infusing lemon, mint, and/or cucumbers in your water - here are some fun ideas! Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to support mental clarity, focus, and your overall brain health!
4. Harness the Power of Breath-Work:
When stress or anxiety hit, breath-work techniques have shown to be invaluable for calming the nervous system. Deep diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and box breathing are simple techniques that promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance mental well-being. Even if you’re not familiar with these specific techniques you can simply take a deep breath in and then do a slow exhale to calm your nervous system!
By practicing breath-work you are literally able to communicate to your body that you are safe, because the brain doesn't always know the difference between a stressful work deadline or being chased by a predator in the wild. That may be an extreme example, but the point is that the body perceives stress in a very similar way, and you have the power to calm your brain and body through breath-work!
5. Exercise - Therapeutic Movement for the Brain:
Physical exercise is not only beneficial for your body but also for your brain. Walking and running, in particular, naturally provide bilateral stimulation which encourages improved communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. This whole brain activation can enhance cognitive function, improve memory, promote emotional processing, and boost creativity.
Engaging in physical activity also increases the release of endorphins, also known as the "feel-good" hormones, promoting a positive mood and naturally releasing stress.
Exercises like walking and running, with bilateral stimulation, serve as a powerful outlet to process emotions in a healthy way, helping you release tension and find mental clarity. So lace up your shoes, hit the pavement, and let your mind and body reap the benefits of this free, easy, and holistic therapy!
6. Stay Mentally Sharp with Brain Games:
Keeping your brain active and challenged is important for maintaining cognitive sharpness. Brain games such as sudoku, crossword puzzles, and memory games can improve cognitive abilities, memory retention, and problem-solving skills.
In the process of challenging your brain or learning new things, you’re creating new neural pathways and promoting neuroplasticity! So, find some brain games that you enjoy and incorporate them into your routine to keep your mind agile and sharp!
7. Neurofeedback: Accelerated Benefits of Meditation:
Neurofeedback is a cutting-edge technology that offers very similar benefits you’d experience from meditation, but at an accelerated rate. By providing real-time feedback to your brain on its activity, neurofeedback can reveal areas of dysregulation so the brain can make corrections and optimize its functioning. Just as regularly practicing meditation can rewire your brain to achieve a more desirable state, neurofeedback can act as a shortcut to those same feelings of relaxation, enhanced focus, reduced stress, and more!
Your brain is the source of how you think, feel, and function. Optimizing brain health is essential for promoting a happy and healthy life. By incorporating these brain health hacks, including exercise, supplements, breath-work, and even neurofeedback, you can enhance your cognitive abilities, improve focus, and achieve mental well-being.
Even small changes can lead to significant results when it comes to nurturing your brain. Try for 1% better each day and be surprised by the difference you feel. Here’s to prioritizing your brain health, exploring new hacks, and unlocking your full potential!