At some point in your life, the likelihood is that you will go through a tough time. You will face some sort of hardship. Almost 90% of people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Think of a time you felt angry, frustrated, or heartbroken. How did you handle it?
How To Keep Your Brain In Peak Condition and Stay Mentally Strong
Related: The Power of the Mind
Learning to develop yourself mentally and nurture stronger mental muscles, will help you in so many different areas of your life. It will help you overcome challenges, quickly bounce back from failure, and see challenges as an opportunity to grow.
Here are 10 habits you can adopt today to stay mentally strong and keep your brain healthy:
- Regular exercise
- Get plenty of sleep
- Mindfulness meditation
- Boost your emotional intelligence
- Keep learning
- Practice gratitude
- Choose your friends carefully
- Embrace the unexpected
- Be Generous
The Importance of Staying Mentally Strong
Keeping your brain in top condition and mentally strengthening yourself now will pay off in the future. Your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health. The two often intertwine and affect one another. Just as you work to stay physically fit, you must work to stay mentally fit. Keeping your mind in shape.
Mentally strong people have the ability to perceive reality for what it really is. They can manage their emotions in a healthy and positive way to navigate through life. Although at times it feels impossible to always feel happy about situations you don’t like, it’s important to accept what is happening and move forward.
Your brain is powerful. It has the power to adapt and shift. As you age, it’s vital that you continue to stretch your brain muscles and retain your mental abilities. By focusing on developing healthy habits early on in life, you can actively reduce your risk of cognitive decline and stay mentally strong.
Often when developing new habits, you need to start by ditching the ones that work against you. Things like mental and physical inactivity, sitting for too long, too much screen time, and poor sleep patterns can negatively influence your cognitive health.
Related: How to Break-Up With Your Bad Habits
10 Habits to Stay Mentally Strong and Keep Your Brain in Top Condition
1. Regular Exercise
Keeping your body active not only does wonders for you physically but is great for your mental well-being. Exercise is a natural anti-anxiety treatment. It helps to reduce stress and tension, improve cognitive function, and boost self-esteem.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body. After exercise, it is common to feel a type of euphoria. This feeling is usually accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
During high-intensity exercise, your brain and your body feel the benefits. By improving your mood, memory, energy levels, and general well-being, exercise is a powerful brain-boosting tool.
Some of the best exercises to keep your brain in the best condition include:
- Yoga and tai chi
- Resistance training
2. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is crucial to your health. When you regularly miss your recommended seven hours, it can have a massive impact on your mind and body. If you’ve ever experienced a night of tossing and turning, you may notice that the next day you struggle to handle stress, get frustrated easily, or feel more emotional.
Consistent poor sleep not only makes you irritable but it affects your cognitive function. It impairs things like decision-making and memory. Studies have found that there is an increase in amyloid-beta levels after just one night of sleep deprivation. Amyloid beta is the main component of amyloid plaques. A build-up of amyloid plaques is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Getting the right amount of sleep on a regular basis can be tough. By creating a bedtime routine, avoiding stimulants in the evening, and taking an evening bath, you can work to create a good sleep environment.
3. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness is the ability to be present. Mindfulness-based meditation helps you to achieve this so you can work on being fully engaged in the moment. By putting your attention on the present, it helps you to be more aware of your feelings, thoughts, and body. The idea is that by increasing your awareness, you can manage your emotions better rather than feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that mindfulness meditation can benefit cognitive function, in particular, it can help:
- Improve focus and mood
- Increase working memory capacity
- Relieve stress and anxiety
A daily meditation practice can offer many rewards, both physically and mentally. Start by setting aside 10 minutes to meditate. Apps like Calm, Headspace, and 10% Happier are a great place to start making mindfulness a habit.
4. Boost Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or emotional quotient, is the ability to use and understand your emotions in positive ways. It’s your ability to communicate effectively, empathize with the people around you, and overcome hurdles.
Mentally strong people tend to have high emotional intelligence. They are good at dealing with their emotions and can empathize with others. It means you think about your feelings, you can benefit from criticism, and you know when to say you’re sorry.
To be more emotionally intelligent, you can try to:
- Be more mindful
- Be as empathetic as you can
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Try to stay calm under pressure
5. Keep Learning
It’s important to regularly stretch your brain muscles. It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Your brain will benefit in the long-term. Learning a new skill may actually slow down cognitive decline as you age.
Brain games like puzzles or crosswords have been found to help with improving working memory. Working memory is the ability to retrieve and remember information. While brain games help your brain perform those functions better, it doesn’t expand other areas of your brain functioning like problem-solving or reasoning.
New knowledge is valuable. You need to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone to achieve the best brain benefits. Good skills to learn for optimal brain health include:
- Learning a new language
- Picking up a new instrument
- Taking up a new hobby like photography
Related: How To Grow New Adult Brain Cells
6. Practice Gratitude
Simply put, gratitude is being thankful. Mentally strong people tend to practice gratitude. They don’t sit on a problem and let it boil. Instead, they find a solution and fix the issue. They use gratitude as a powerful tool. Giving thanks has scientifically-proven benefits.
Being thankful helps to improve empathy and reduce toxic emotions like envy or resentment. It can also help people to sleep better and increase their self-esteem. It’s hard to think that something so simple can have such a big impact on your life.
Research shows that gratitude increases mental strength. One study found that gratitude helped improve resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. This suggests that being thankful, fosters strength and resilience, no matter how tramatic the event.
Related: Gratitude Changes Everything
7. Choose Your Friends Carefully
Friendships are important for your mental health. The right friendships can increase your self-esteem and confidence and reduce stress and anxiety. Mentally strong people surround themselves with positive, sincere, and kind people. Strong, healthy relationships encourage positive mental health. If you have an energy drainer in your life who is bringing you down, it might be time to address that relationship.
Self-care looks a little different for everyone. Self-care is essential in keeping your mind and body healthy. By taking care of yourself, it prepares your mind and body to deal with difficult situations when they arise. You need to pay attention to your needs, emotions, and engage in activities that you find fun or relaxing. Here are five self-care ideas to get you started:
- Prioritize sleep
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Take a walk in nature
- Find ways to relax: yoga, coloring, or taking a bath
9. Embrace the Unexpected
Nobody likes change, but it’s a part of life. If you focus on parts of your life that are out of your control, it can leave you feeling drained. Instead, put your attention and what you can control and embrace the unexpected. When you feel mentally strong, you are ready to take on new challenges and overcome hurdles.
Instead of resisting change, focus on adapting to it. This ability to be flexible will help you to overcome a crisis and feel much more in control.
10. Be Generous
Mentally strong people tend to be generous out of kindness. You would use words like helpful and considerate to describe them. Although you’re not responsible for other people’s happiness and well-being, you can be helpful and caring. You can be generous without feeling guilty or responsible.
There are small things you can do to make generosity a part of your life such as:
- Spend time with people in need
- Help fund a cause based on your passion
- Instead of buying coffee, donate what you would spend to a charity
Related: Random Acts Of Kindness
Watch this video of Dr. Weston discussing Health & Emotions and how they have an effect on each other.
Your mental well-being and cognitive function are made up of so many different elements. There is no one thing that will solve all of your problems. But, by taking the time to look after yourself and adopting healthy, positive habits, you can increase your mood, be more productive, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline as you age. In general, if you exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and hit your recommended seven hours of sleep, you’re well on your way to positive physical and mental well-being.