When it comes to self-care, most people have some sort of regimen. Some have a daily skin routine to keep their skin healthy and youthful. Others have fitness routine to stay in shape and lean.
We all take care of ourselves to some degree because we know it’s the foundation of success, a healthy body, and a happy mind.
But there’s one critical aspect of self-care you’re likely missing out on: your brain.
Your brain is the most complex and important organ of the body. Despite this fact, we don’t give our brain the love it needs.
Which is a shame because if you take the time to nourish your brain, it can radically transform your life.
Think about it. What would life be like if you were more intelligent, better at decision making, and had a better memory?
It would be pretty awesome, right?
A big part of nourishing a healthy brain involves eliminating behaviors that make your brain sluggish. This post will help you identify those toxic behaviors in your life. So, let’s get started…
1. Skipping Breakfast
Skipping morning meals negatively affects not only the body but also the brain (1). It can hinder your cognitive performance–in other words, how well your brain functions. Having an empty stomach makes it difficult for us to concentrate while working or studying. Even the simplest task can seem difficult with a grumbling tummy.
On top of that, research has found that people who miss eating breakfast tend to be in a worse mood compared to those who had started their day with a morning meal (2). And when you’re in a bad mood, you will be less motivated, focused, and be more likely to engage in coping mechanisms like a Netflix marathon.
It’s also important to select what you will be having for breakfast. Opt for the healthy brain foods in the morning such as fruit, overnight soaked oatmeal, pasture-raised eggs, or a green juice powder.
Unhealthy, processed breakfast choices will only spike your blood sugar and cause you to have an energy crash later on.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re into intermittent fasting, which can actually enhance your brain’s function. There is just a short adjustment period where you may be grumpy in the morning. But once you get used to it, intermittent fasting is an incredible biohack to enhance your cognitive function.
2. Lack Of Sleep
Sleep deprivation can have a huge effect on how your brain functions throughout the day.
One study, for example, limited the sleep of test subjects to 4.5 hours a night. The result was that these people experienced significantly more stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion (3). Not exactly the best things for a well-running brain.
Lack of focus and forgetting things like car keys or phone can also be an effect of prolonged sleep deprivation.
But what if you have trouble sleeping at night?
If you have trouble sleeping, I highly recommend that you check out this guide to optimizing your body’s biological clock. You can also take a high quality CBD oil–this stuff will make you sleep like a baby.
I also recommend that you avoid activities like exercising or drinking coffee before bedtime. With these suggestions, you should be able to sleep with issues at all.
3. Lack of Stimulating Activities
Much like your body needs exercise to stay in shape, your brain needs to be exercised as well. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Research suggests that the more you think, learn, and engage in mentally stimulating activities, the better your cognitive abilities get. Mentally stimulating activities also decreases the risk of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s (4).
Simply put, engaging yourself in brain-stimulating activities can prevent further deterioration of your brain’s efficiency. Consider activities such as reading a book and solving crossword puzzles are great ways to exercise your brain. Playing board games and Sudoku are effective too.
4. Too Much Sugar and Food
Too much sugar causes a wide range of negative effects to your health. High-sugar diets can result in dental issues, diabetes, acne, weight gain and some evidence even suggests it promotes the growth of cancer (5).
But sugar can also cripple the function of your brain.
One study, for example, found that those who have a high diet of sugar were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression (6).
Research has also found that a high sugar diet can negatively affect your memory and ability to learn new things (7).
Overeating, especially unhealthy foods, is another factor that can negatively affect your brain and body. Over time, this can lead to obesity. Studies show that an obese person’s brain ages faster compared to that of a leaner person (8).
At this point, everyone knows smoking is horrible for your health. There’s a mountain of evidence that shows smoking can result in lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, and stroke (9).
But did you know that smoking can also decrease your cognitive abilities?
Studies have found that a smoker’s brain cortex is thinner than of those who are not. The cortex is responsible for a person’s memory, language, planning, and organization function, just to name a few. It naturally gets thinner as you age but smoking can speed up this process (10).
Smoking can also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia (11).
It is never too late to quit smoking. You do not really want to suffer the consequences in the future years.
6. Too Much Booze
There’s no denying that a few glasses of wine or a couple pints of beer can lighten up a social event. In moderation, this is totally okay.
But when you drink on a normal basis or frequently indulge in binge drinking, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Too much alcohol can damage your gut health, liver, and impair the function of your brain.
In fact, researchers have found that heavy or chronic drinkers have a smaller brain, diminished memory, an inability to think abstractly and reduced ability to focus (12).
Of course, I’m not saying you should stop drinking altogether. The key here is to practice moderation.
Everyone experiences some degree of stress in life. Stress from work, school, children, relationships, financial struggles… the list goes on and on.
Stress is a completely normal part of life. But when stress becomes your norm, and reaches extreme levels, it can cause significant harm to your health. This kind of stress can weaken your immune system, cause insomnia, depression, and even increase the risk of heart disease.
There’s also evidence that chronic stress can damage or kill off brain cells. That’s because stress causes a surplus of the neurotransmitter called glutamate, which creates free radicals in the brain (13). These free radicals can cause damage to healthy brain cells.
But that’s not all. Stress can also impair your memory and ability to learn (14).
To combat the negative effects of stress, you should try some of these stress-management tricks. These tricks include things like journaling, meditation, exercise, and adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola rosea.