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Exercises to Keep Your Mind Healthy

If you ever have the chance to touch and feel a braille board, you will become very aware of how our brain works. This type of reading is a motor activity. The finger feels the raised bumps on the surface, the sensory system picks up on the pattern and trough the spinal cord these signals get right to the brain. There, the magic happens. Our brain is the most mysterious organ in our body. It is responsible for our movements, from blinking to running away from the enemy, from learning how to walk and talk, to learning new skills. Yet, we remain unaware of its functionality most of the time. Imagine how you would feel if you have to consciously order your body to do a specific task, to pick up the pen or to write a certain word. We do most of the things mechanically, without thinking about them. Your brain is a brilliant mechanism that can lead you to achieving the highest goals, making you feel happy and sad, or in worse scenarios, committing crimes or suicides. The good thing about this human engine is that you are the one who is always in control. Only you can control your thoughts and actions, and you can guide them to achieving whatever it is you set your mind on.

“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” - Buddha

But you have to train your brain to think the right thoughts and you can start with a few exercises to keep your mind healthy.

Physical exercises to keep your mind healthy

Being a couch potato is nice during Sunday afternoons, especially after a hard week at work. That is not the best practice to stimulate your brain, however. Watching TV is one of the best ways to brainwash yourself, so avoid habitually sitting in front of the TV. Animals learn from experience but human beings are a little more stubborn. We tend to do the things that make us feel good, which often include smoking, drinking and losing all physical condition. Bear in mind, that the more energy you waste, the more energy the body requires you to produce, so that you can keep functioning perfectly. Keeping yourself physically active will not only strengthen your body, but it will keep your mind healthy too. If you are not a fan of running or lifting heavy weights, walking will do the trick just as well. One hour walks will leave you in a better mood and in good health, if you make this practice a habit. Riding a bike is a fun activity as much as it’s a cardiovascular workout. You will get plenty of exercise and get the chance to feel what it’s like being a part of nature.

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Yoga and Tai Chi are also great workouts that will improve your bodily and brain functions. These ancient practices were used for hundreds of years. With their help you can recover your posture, align your spine in its natural position and get rid of back pains forever. They are not only good for your physical shape, but your mental state as well. With learning the right breathing techniques, combined with specific movements you can relieve your mind and body from stress, menstrual pains, fatigue, insomnia and many other ailments. Every yoga posture has its own anatomical and therapeutic focus, so use them wisely because they are powerful. It’s not advisable to practice yoga unassisted because most of the poses seem very easy, but they might have serious contraindications. Because it doesn’t require a lot of strength and there is absolutely no heavy lifting, yoga can be practiced by people of all ages. You can even make it more exciting, practicing with your kids, significant other or a beloved relative. If none of the above mentioned exercises sound appealing, dancing is a great way to keep your body and brain in good shape. What’s important is to put your body in motion and your mind will follow it.

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Mental exercises to keep your mind healthy and nimble

Unfortunately, all human brains start to slow down somewhere around the age of 30. This shouldn’t discourage you though. Einstein published his last successful work in his late 60’s and he was contributing to modern physics until the time he died. All of us don’t hold his brain, of course, but with a couple of exercises to keep your mind healthy, you too can contribute to your environment. Charge your brain by feeding it information. If you come across some word you don’t understand, look it up to see its meaning and history. There are many things you’ve probably wanted to learn but never had the chance. With the gift called Internet you can learn all sorts of new things, from how beer is brewed to where different types of coffee beans come from. Scientists have wondered what made Einstein brain so special and what they found out was amazing. The left side of his brain had more glial cells than all other 11 normal men’s brains. These cells are responsible for signal transmission, and they were found in huge amounts in the left side because that side is responsible for merging information from other parts of the brain.

Maybe you think you already know everything you need to know. Even if that is the case you still need to keep your mind focused and agile. Brain puzzles are great exercises that will improve your mind functioning. Riddles and brain teasers are good for grownups as they are for children. You will probably find a couple of good ones that will leave you speechless.

Always make efforts to advance in something new and exciting. Learning a new language is never a waste. You don’t have to become fluent or obsess over your new linguistic abilities. Who knows where your life takes you next. Maybe you’ll decide to visit Puerto Rico someday and your few trained Spanish lines will turn out to be quite helpful on your journey. It could be that you are not talented in any of the arts, but who cares. What you do with your own free time and for your amusement is your business and choice. Roll up your sleeves and learn how to throw pottery. If not a masterpiece, you will be able to make at least a funny looking vase or an ashtray. Then take a break and play lots of games. Word games, video games, chess, backgammon or plain jigsaw puzzles. You will find many problem solving games online. Some of them may seem very basic for your mental power but don’t let that stop you. Putting your mind into problem solving mode during simple games will help you train your thought processing in real life.

Relaxing exercises to keep your mind healthy

Once you have done all physical and mental workouts to stretch your brain into its optimal potential, it’s time to give it a rest. Sleeping with music, loud noises or with the TV on won’t give your brain a chance to get a good night's sleep. During the night, all bodily functions are lowered to zero. That’s the only time when your brain doesn’t give orders to the rest of your body, but it can still hear every sound in your room. Let your mind fall asleep with the rest of your body and you will wake up fresh and equipped with new brain cells for the day. If you are usually restless and you have troubles falling asleep, try various easy meditation techniques. There are downloadable guided meditations if you have never tried this before. At first, you might drift your thoughts aimlessly in many different directions. That is because your brain is not used to be focused inwardly.

Listen to your breathing and count your breaths if you have to. Inhale deeply while counting, take a quick break and count out while exhaling. This breathing technique will provide your brain with enough oxygen and after the hard day, it will make you feel lightheaded. Breathing slowly will lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which will naturally make you sleepy. Become aware of your body, one part after another. Feel your legs relaxing as you slowly put your attention to your tights, then belly, back and chest, all the way up to your head.

After a week of repetition, you will be able to relax more easily. When you wake up, don’t jump off the bed immediately or rush into the day. Rushing will only make you hasty. Hastiness will make you forget something important and when you forget something important you have a reason to feel angry, annoyed and explosive. Make your best efforts to keep your mind calm whenever you can. There are bad feelings and good feelings. If you train your brain to think about the negative things happening around you, it will get used to picking up on them more effortlessly than the positive ones. That is called the snowball effect and you have to learn to control it. At the beginning you will think it’s impossible to control your thoughts but that is only because you are already used to a certain pattern of thinking. A negative thought pattern brings a negative outcome. A positive one on the other hand, will only make you more productive alongside confident. Stressful situations and actions have upsetting effects on the brain part called hypothalamus. This part is responsible for our memory formation, so make yourself loose from time to time and give your brain a boost by thinking about the positive issues instead of the negative ones. It’s often said that laughing is the best medicine and in fact it is. The stress hormones known as epinephrine and cortisol tend to decrease during bursts of laughter, so take this workout seriously as one of the cheapest exercises to keep your mind healthy.

Anti-aging foods to add to your exercises to keep your mind healthy

No matter how much you exercise, laugh and meditate, if you keep your organism poor in healthy nutrients, you will never keep your brain young. Eating foods rich with antioxidants will improve your memory and focus and help you get your hands on solving your troubles more easily. If you choose to eat fish to rejuvenate your brain cells, avoid buying mercury heavy products, like swordfishes. All vegetables and fruits will aid in your advantage, but avocados are well known brain food. If you love cooking, use olive oil as it is identified by many doctors and nutritionists as the miracle elixir. When it comes to baking cookies, make your brownies with whole grains as much as possible. They will increase the blood flow to the brain, making it sharper and alert during the hard days. Everything becomes better with age and if you train your brain, against all odds, this body part will increase its potential too.

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References


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