Wellness

7 Habits to Keep Your Brain in Tip Top Shape

Cropped SingleCare logo By | May 16, 2016

We all worry about our physical fitness and wellbeing — but what about our brains? Here are a few things that will flex your most important muscle every day.

Take a minute and think back: when was the last time you did something for your health and well-being? No, that nutritious meal or trip to the gym doesn’t quite count — we’re talking about your mental health. Brain health is a crucial factor in overall wellness, both in terms of its functionality and your feelings.

Just like any of your muscles, your brain grows stronger when it’s engaged in the right ways — and it never never stops changing, so you’d be wise to take care of your body’s most complex organ. Here are seven habits you can add to your daily routine to help keep your brain in tip-top shape.

1) Switch Things Up

Your brain grows accustomed to patterns and repeated behaviors, so switch things up a bit to give it a jolt. Try things like changing the order of your morning routine or taking a different route to work than usual. You could even try small, weird things like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, sitting at a different seat at your kitchen table to eat, or rearranging photos, furniture, and other items in your house so you can see them from a different perspective.   

2) Exercise

Running together - friends jogging together in park, rear view
[Martinan/Thinkstock]

Okay, turns out that trip to the gym was good for your brain after all. The positive effects that physical exercise can have on the brain are well-documented. Getting active helps the brain both directly, through the stimulation of the organ itself and its chemical functions, and indirectly, through the positive effects of a stimulated mind on your mood, sleep patterns, and stress levels. What’s more, since you’re working out for your body’s health as well, you’re killing two health birds with one stone.  

3) Solve a Puzzle

While certain types of puzzles probably don’t boost overall cognitive function at the level their manufacturers claim, challenging your brain to overcome problems can be surprisingly helpful in developing certain cognitive skills. So pick up a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, or even check out app-based brain games like Lumosity — just don’t expect them to make you an automatic genius.   

4) Pick Up a Pen

Mature man working in home office
[Siri Stafford/Thinkstock]

When was the last time you actually wrote something down, pen to paper? Nowadays, people even use smartphones to write notes and make doodles. Next chance you have, pick up a pen and paper instead. Especially if you’re trying to solve a problem or learn something, research has shown that actually writing things out longhand engages your brain at a much higher level than inputting it onto a screen.

5) Talk to Someone

If you go about your daily routines solo, make it a point to interact with at least one other person, face to face, every day. Social deprivation has been shown to stunt brain growth in children, and there’s a reason one of the most extreme methods of punishment is solitary confinement. People are social creatures — your brain needs some friends.

6) Unplug and Zone Out

Asian businesswoman sitting on table and meditating
[Martinan/Thinkstock]

Studies show that unplugging from electronic devices for even 30 minutes each day can be beneficial to brain health — so while you’re away from the screen, why not reap even more benefits through meditation? Taking time out of the day for a quick, meditative session has been proven to benefit the brain and overall mental health, so find a quiet space, close your eyes, and get your ommm on.

7) Monitor Your Progress

And while you take all these steps to improve your brain’s health, be sure to keep track of your progress by sticking to regularly scheduled check-ups with your doctor. If things aren’t going so well in your head, don’t hesitate to see someone about mental health, either.

For affordable access to great doctors, procedures, and medications, consider joining SingleCare’s free network. Whether you need to see your general practitioner or a mental health professional, being part of the SingleCare network can get you serious savings, no matter what your level of insurance coverage is.

When it comes to keeping your brain healthy, just focus on the little things — SingleCare can handle the rest.