Your week starts with a relaxed yoga flow session, always schedule an after-work run on Wednesdays, and kick off every weekend with an intense HIIT workout. Regular exercise helps you unwind, gives structure to your week, and is part of your daily routine. So you’re pushing your body to its limits. But are you also giving your mind a chance to stretch itself? Just like your leg or arm muscles, your brain needs regular training. Without new stimuli, your mind quickly falls back into familiar patterns and loses its flexibility. When you train your mental fitness, you keep your brain efficient. A fit mind is agile, can process knowledge more quickly, take on different perspectives, and focus better.
The human being functions as one unit, so your mental and physical state are constantly influencing each other. For example, one large European study in neuropharmacology found that physical fitness is associated with mental fitness. Participants who increased their physical fitness not only had better memory performance, but also increased concentration and problem-solving abilities.
To help your mind reach its peak performance, we’ve put together our top tips for keeping your mind fit and dynamic.
#1 Try New Things
Your brain needs to be put in new situations to stay active. Unfamiliar settings and new challenges stimulate the formation of new brain cells and keep your mind fit and functional. Thinking about changing professions, learning a new sport, or trying something else completely different? These new activities can all help maximize your mental fitness as well! In the best case scenario, the unfamiliar tasks are things that challenge both your body and your mind.
Take dancing, for example. Not only does your body go through new dance steps, but your brain also has to remember the movement sequences and coordinate the two. Dr. Morris from the Harvard Medical School recommends picking a new activity that is complex, challenging, and requires regular practice. Want some more inspiration? Try some yoga!
#2 Break out of Your Routine
Did you know that up to 60% of your behavior is automatic? Taking your morning walk around the block or doing the weekly grocery shopping: both activities are part of your regular routines, so your mind doesn’t have to be that involved.
As nice as habits can be, they also mean that your brain isn’t working very hard. That can be a blessing after a stressful day but it still has a negative impact on your mental fitness in the long run. That’s why it’s a good idea to break out of your comfort zone. Start simple and, for example, use your other hand to brush your teeth, take an unfamiliar route to work, and try not to use your smartphone to distract yourself along the way. These little disruptions to your routine will help you reawaken your brain and be more focused and in the moment.
Usually eat savory foods for breakfast? Add variety to your morning and treat yourself to a sweet breakfast bowl once in a while.
#3 Move Your Body
Strong body, strong mind. The good thing about physical activity is that you’re not only working on your physical performance, but you’re also keeping up your mental fitness. According to the Harvard Health Letter, exercise has been shown to help improve your memory and various other cognitive processes.
On top of that, regular exercise helps combat factors that can negatively affect your mental fitness. That’s because it releases endorphins, improves your mood, your sleep quality, and reduces stress on top of it all. It doesn’t matter if you go for a sweaty HIIT workout, a dance class, or a long walk in the fresh air. The important thing is that you enjoy it and stay active on a regular basis.
#4 Eat Healthy
Whether you’re solving a complex quadratic equation or just sleeping, your brain needs 20 percent of your daily energy intake to keep functioning. So it’s especially important to eat a balanced diet and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to keep up your mental fitness. Not sure what to look for? Then check out our guide to healthy eating made easy!
Salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds are especially good for your head, because they contain a fatty acid called DHA. This particular type of fat is important because it can’t be produced by your body on its own and is needed for your brain to function normally**. In our Omega-3 capsules, we’ve combined it with EPA to maintain a healthy brain and heart***.
#5 High-Quality Sleep
Ever thought about why you need to sleep on it when you make tough decisions? Sleep is when your body stores new information, and it’s not only sleep duration that’s important for your mental fitness, but quality as well. Make good sleep your priority and check out our 8 tips for a good night’s sleep now!
# 6 Breathe
Probably the easiest way to improve your mental fitness is to remember to breathe. In stressful situations, the increased release of stress hormones keeps your mind from working efficiently. Breathing exercises and meditation can push your brain’s reset button. Plus, conscious breathing exercises help you get a sense of control back and think more clearly.
With these basic principles, keeping your mind fit isn’t all that hard! Incorporate a few of these tips into your daily routine, stay curious and open, and you’ll be doing something good for your mental fitness. And if you need a little extra nudge, our Daily Vitamins cover all the micronutrients you need to boost your mental and physical fitness*.
* Vitamins B5, B12, and C help reduce fatigue and tiredness and contribute to a healthy immune system. Vitamin B12 and C promote mental functioning and energy metabolism. Vitamin B5 contributes to keeping up your mental fitness.
** DHA helps maintain a healthy brain.
*** EPA and DHA contribute to normal heart functioning.
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