Erika Long guest posts today on ways to enrich your mind naturally and it’s a great read for those of us who want to keep our minds as active as our bodies!
When you give the mind what it needs to perform optimally, you will naturally improve its cognitive functions and slow down the aging process. The best advice is both easy to practice and preferably enjoyable as well; then, as you begin to experience the benefits of a clearer mind, more focus, and deeper concentration, you’re more likely to stick to these new habits. Here is a list of 5 natural ways to enrich the mind that also happen to be affordable and readily available.
How to enrich your mind, naturally:
1. Eat right
To boost your mental performance, switch to a clean diet. In other words, limit sugar-laden and processed foods.
If you are a non-vegetarian, include fish in your diet rich in omega-3 fats such as oysters, sardines, salmon, etc., as the DHA present in these foods activates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex region, which governs the working memory. Similarly, consuming brain foods, such as eggs, berries, nuts, and green vegetables leads to increased mental alertness.
If you have a sweet tooth, consume dark chocolate to satisfy the craving as research shows it can improve memory and reduce stress. Full of antioxidants, fiber, and other beneficial compounds, dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and promote heart health.
Research also shows that dark chocolate might, in fact, change the frequency of the brain; specifically, chocolate with a minimum of 70% of cocoa enhances the gamma frequency of the brain which is linked to the highest cognitive processes. Those specific mental processes include:
- Information processing
- Stress reduction
Regular exercise can benefit people of all ages, from children to seniors, as it improves and keeps cognitive functions running optimally by increasing neuron development and growth while decreasing the risk of dementia. It is also linked to increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that plays a pivotal role in the creation of new neurons.
Exercising also increases blood supply to the brain, which naturally improves speech and cognitive function. It can also produce mental health benefits, including hightened mental clarity and an anti-depressant effect on the mind. Simple exercises, such as walking, working in the garden, cleaning the house, riding a bike (even a stationary one counts), or anything that is not sitting, may improve brain function.
3. Play board games
Board game lovers are in luck as games are an excellent way of strengthening the human mind. Studies reveal that board games positively affect the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex regions because they require the use of neurocognitive capabilities.
These regions associate with various cognitive skills and complex memory functions. Similarly, board games also hamper the development of cognitive impairments, such as those related to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
If board games aren’t your thing, though, then try learning something new because it’s really about challenging the brain. Though uncomfortable at first, learning activates the brain and, in turn, it creates new neural connections.
Here are few things to do to stimulate the brain in a new way:
- Take a different route to work
- Using our non-dominate hand to write
- Learn the basics of a new language (just a few words daily should suffice)
- Try a new recipe
- Listen to classical music
4. Meditate to enrich your mind
Meditation can physically change the human brain. Research shows that people who meditate regularly develop higher folds in the outer region of the brain through the process of gyration.
These outer folds associates with the brain’s ability to process and save information. More recently, a study conducted by Yale University revealed that long-term meditation hampers the “default” mode network of the brain. This network is responsible for purposeless wanderings of the human mind.
Similarly, meditation has also been linked with increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus region of the brain which influences the mind’s ability to learn and remember things.
Sleep deprivation can lead to loss of brain tissue since the brain performs the function of repair and maintenance during sleep. Therefore, getting proper sleep is vital to ensure brain health.
As we get older, melatonin levels decrease, so it can become harder to fall asleep. It’s best then to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, as well as minimize alcohol intake in the evening.
Natural supplements like valerian root has been proven to treat insomnia while reducing anxiety levels as it interacts with GABA levels in the brain. That process, in turn, helps you to relax and fall asleep.
+ a bonus way to enrich your mind: Drink matcha green tea
OK, so I said there were 5 natural approaches – but here’s a extra one!
In addition to antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, matcha green tea also has L-theanine, a protein that relaxes the nervous system while improving cognitive function. Although matcha has caffeine, the L-theanine balances out any potential for the jitters and gives an “alert calmness.” Researchers have noted that matcha can be a preventive measure for degenerative diseases.
Besides incorporating these foods and habits into your daily routine, you might also take natural supplements that support brain health. The important factor is to keep challenging and nurturing the mind to grow and to give it good fuel, sufficient rest and proper stimulation.
Regardless of what you do, consistency is key. As you need your brain to function every day, it needs special care and attention every day in order to perform as well as possible.
About today’s writer
Erika Long loves corgis, curry and comedy. Always searching for the next great snuggle, flavor or laugh, she inspires people to live their best life now. When not writing, Erika can be found at her local brewery dominating Harry Potter trivia night.