One area which is often overlooked in health and fitness circles is brain health.
Optimising your mental health will lead to a higher level of mental clarity, elevated mood, increased energy levels and an increase in feelings of wellbeing.
All of these things will have a positive knock on effect on your work, family and social life.
So how would you go about optimising brain function? As it happens, as with the health of the rest of your body, you can break the strategies down into two main groups – nutrition and exercise…
Ensure that at least once per day you are taking on board some new information. Read or watch something which furthers your knowledge, challenges your beliefs or in some way inspires you. Fresh input will open up new neural pathways or force you to re-explore old ones – a real brain cell bootcamp!
Practice switching off – this can be done in conjunction with breathing exercises if you wish to combine them. Lie in a dark room with no stimulus at all. Relax, breathe deeply and slowly, become more aware of yourself and your body and try to switch off from any thoughts of past or future. This takes practice and listening to some calming music or a meditation CD will help.
Every single day when it is time to stop working and unwind then write a comprehensive list of everything you want to get done the next day. This really helps draw a line under the day and helps you to switch off and stop worrying so much.
I came across this idea the other day on an Abel James podcast and absolutely love it…keep a small notepad by your bed and each night write two things in it which you are thankful for, one could be something small which happened that day and one could be part of the bigger picture of your past or present. Try not to repeat the same things over the course of a week. This can be a real game changer in terms of your perspective on your own life.
Fish Oil – in particular the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA contained within are proven to benefit heart health, brain health, support the immune system and benefit everything from eye sight to bone and joint health. If I could only take one supplement then this would be it! The capsules and the lower strength oils are simply not strong enough, to see the benefits of this supplement then go for Seven Seas Extra High Strength Liquid or something of similar EPA and DHA levels.
Turmeric, oregano, garlic, rosemary and ginger - anecdotal evidence has been around for a many years regarding the positive effect of these natural herbs on the brain –– give it a go, it may work for some and not for others but it certainly won’t do you any harm to increase the amounts of these 5 herbs in your diet.
Cut down on simple sugars which have an inflammatory effect on your brain and your body. Increased inflammation will affect cell function and is something you should look to avoid if you want to perform optimally both physically and mentally.
Oxygen – this is obviously essential but if you really want to maximise the benefits then start to regularly run through breathing exercises to ensure you are using the full capacity of your lungs and have your breathing techniques mastered. This will have great knock on benefits for when you exercise and are really in need of that extra capacity.
This stuff really works so give it a try and as anyone who trains with me will testify I am always in a great mood and display levels of mental agility and quick thinking which have to be witnessed to be believed. Honest.