10 Things to Do Daily to Manage Stress & Maintain Brain Health

While not all stress is bad for you, ongoing persistent stress that becomes unmanageable can negatively affect our lives. In a study conducted by The Journal of Neuroscience looking at age-related deficits, discovered that declines in HPA activity (our central stress response) might be programmed and further modified by severe or prolonged stressful events.

Identifying triggers and the presence of stress in our everyday lives is the first step to building healthy habits that keep excessive worry at bay. Small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference to the quality of your life. We run you through our top tips for coping with stress.

Meditation is the practice of centering yourself, releasing negative thoughts and inviting inner peace. There are many benefits of meditation it can truly transform your life. Many people avoid practicing meditation because they genuinely believe they do not know how to do it - or that it is hard! 

The best way to meditate is by simply doing so. At first, you may find it hard to keep your thoughts at bay and quieten your mind, which is completely normal. Be kind to yourself and practice patience. Start with 5 minutes a day and work your way up from there. 

There are many resources out there to assist you with your meditation journey. We recommend head space or insight timer which gives you access to guided and non-guided meditation. 

Consume Healthy, And Well-balanced Meals
Our bodies do a great job of taking care of us, so it only makes sense that we consume nutritionally dense foods to support our natural homeostasis. Listen to your body, and consume foods that make you feel great. 

Processed foods contain unnatural preservatives and flavorings that our bodies do not recognize and are unable to digest correctly - causing an imbalance. Instead, opt for whole foods including a mix of different colored organic vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats at every meal.

Dehydration can cause symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, and a foggy brain. If drinking water is not your thing, try increasing your water intake by drinking herbal teas or flavoring your water with berries, lemon and even a pinch of honey. 

Improving Memory Improving your memory requires you to take good care of your brain with the proper nutrition and lifestyle changes. We previously touched on ways to train your brain for mental clarity and focus. In this paragraph, we look at key nutritional foods that help improve brain function for optimal memory. 

Studies show that fish oil can significantly benefit the health of your brain by improving memory and behavior. The essential fatty acids contained in this oil, EPA and DHA, are vital ingredients for brain health. Our bodies do not produce these essential fatty acids on their own, but we require them for optimal function. 

Vitamin D plays a significant role in supporting brain health. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to reduced cognitive function. Have a blood test today to determine your levels, and act accordingly. 

Deep Breathing 

As you become more embedded in your meditation practice, you will soon come to realize the significant role breathing plays in relaxing your mind and body. Pranayama is a practice of breathing, using various techniques commonly practiced by Yoga therapists. Prana means life force and to practice mindful breathing is believed to extend your inner life force. 

Much like meditation, pranayama breathing can help to relieve stress and bring about clarity of mind by focusing on your breath. You can learn how to adopt this practice here.

Exercise Your Brain 

Keeping your mind sharp is a great way to keep stress at bay. When your mind is clear and focused, you are better equipped to make healthy decisions and rationalize situations and emotions. And just like all other muscles in our body, we also need to exercise our brain. 

Here are some activities that train your brain: 

  • Do crossword puzzles, sudoku or adult coloring in books. All these activities require you to use and train your cognitive skills. 
  •  Learn a new language. This one can be challenging and fun! It doesn't matter whether you learn the language to a conversational or fluent proficiency - simply the act of learning trains your mind. 
  • Ditch the calculator! Next time you’re doing the sums, try to do so in your head. You can also try memorizing friends and family members phone numbers off the top of your head!  
 Fitness Plan 

Aside from releasing happiness-inducing endorphins, exercise can improve cognitive skills. The key is to continuously try new and different exercises to work varying energy systems and muscle groups in the body. 

Sports such as boxing, for example, require you to use your balance and foot/hand coordination. Whereas, practicing yoga requires flexibility, breathing, and concentration. Exercise entails that your brain learns and remembers movements, as well as utilize a variety of cognitive skills. 

We recommend following the expert advice of a fitness trainer to help you choose what exercises are best for your fitness level and goals.

Listening To Soothing Music 

Sometimes the best way to ease stress is by simply enjoying music that soothes and calms your emotions. While the definition of what constitutes “soothing” can differ from person to person, some examples of soothing genres of music are jazz, soul, classical, ocean and nature sounds and meditative music.

If you are after a more therapeutic experience, you can try binaural beats. The science behind binaural beats is simple. A song will play two different tones, one in your left and one in your right ear. Your mind then converts them into one single sound, usually somewhere around the alpha state which is the state of mind when you go into meditation.  
Binaural beats are instrumental in helping promote stress relief, focus and mental clarity.

Smile And Laugh 

Very underrated but ever so useful. Nothing cures a bad mood quite as quickly as a smile or sharing a laugh with a friend. It immediately releases feel-good hormones in our body and resets our emotional state. Surround yourself in the company of those that make you feel good! 

Reach out to a friend when you feel stressed and organize an activity that you both love. And if you see someone that needs a little light in their lives, pay it forward and smile at them to brighten up their day. You’ll be surprised how good you can feel by doing something nice for someone else. 

Take Care Of Yourself 
No one can take quite as good care of you as you can. Set aside time every day to do something you enjoy. This may be a bath, reading a book, catching up on your favorite show or going for a walk. The more you practice self-care, the quicker you train your subconscious mind to acknowledge that you are important and worthy of taking care of yourself. 

While it may feel like you are, you are not alone in your journey to managing your stress levels. Stress in our lives is unavoidable, but our response to it and how we treat our bodies during these episodes is what sets us up for a quick recovery. It helps to remember that nothing is permanent, and you are just one moment away from finding relief. 

Get A Good Night's Sleep 

Directly linked to elevated levels of stress, a lack of sleep is crucial in your plan for coping with any amounts of stress. If you have out ruled all underlying causes for insomnia, try adopting a nighttime routine to help you sleep better. We suggest creating a peaceful space, removing all technology, and switch off at least a half hour before bed to train your mind to recognize it’s time to sleep. 

You can also introduce a sleep meditation routine every night to quieten the mind before bed. 
Our top ten tips will start you on the right path to supporting a healthy brain by managing stress levels, and keeping worry at bay. It only takes a bit of your time and effort to feel better and start handling your stress effectively. 

This is vital as it can promote your overall health and wellbeing, including optimizing cognitive performance. A small change can go a long way and motivate you to adjust your lifestyle further until you are living a completely stress-free life, which should be the ultimate goal.