How to Care for Your Mind
If you’re a family caregiver or if a loved one in your family has dementia, then you are likely familiar with the devastating toll a degenerative neurological disorder can take on someone wellbeing. Although there is only so much you can do to take preventative measures against these kinds of disorders, there are other ways to prepare for your life ahead. This article will be the first part of a two-part series. In this part we will go over steps on caring for your brain to help prevent neurological illnesses.
Caring for Your Brain
Caring for your brain boils down to a simple motto: Exercise, Eat Healthy, and Destress. We will go over each briefly.
Exercise: If you can carve out some time in your busy schedule to exercise, then your body and mind will love you! Do cardio by going for a walk, run, or swim. If you can, get a gym membership and do some resistance training. If you do not know where to begin, we recommend that you see your doctor before starting any exercise regimen. Your doctor can then tell you about available resources to help educate you about physical exercise and resistance training. A logical step would be to find a personal trainer at a gym who can show you the proper form and technique when lifting weights, walking, and running. If a personal trainer goes beyond your budget, rely on some online resources like finding exercise tutorials on YouTube or on BodyBuilding.com. On the latter website, you can find
Eat Healthy: Some brain healthy foods include: nuts, berries, a wide array of vegetables (tomatoes, broccoli, etc.), oily fish (salmon), and whole grains. Try to source for food with good sources of B vitamins, like B6 B12, and folic acid, because these vitamins are shown to support brain health and lessen brain shrinkage. A lot of berries contain vitamin B, but you can also buy supplements from drug stores. On the other hand, there are foods to avoid. If it is possible for you and your family, try to avoid fast foods, pre-packaged foods with preservatives, and fried foods. These foods contribute to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Many times, fast foods are the only thing we have time for or can allow in our budget. This is understandable, so try to find the healthiest options if certain restaurants offer them, e.g. instead of a hamburger try a grilled chicken sandwich, etc.
Destress: Life throws us a lot of curveballs. How we respond to stressful events ultimately determines how stressed we become. This sounds harsh, but think about it. Managing your experienced stress under a stressful circumstance can help you respond more effectively than allowing stress to stop you in your tracks. That being said, managing your stress is not easy and it is normal to fail at it sometimes. Great stress management techniques are breathing and meditating, two activities that help you practice mindfulness. Being mindful means being considerate, in this case not to other people, but yourself. Think about your surroundings and what you are experiencing in the present moment. Forget what happened yesterday or what you think will happen tomorrow. Instead, focus on what it’s directly in front of you, in the most literal sense of the phrase. Focus on the sounds you hear, the rhythm of your breathing, the feeling of the wind blowing across your skin, etc. Practice this for 5 minutes a day, then move to 10 minutes, then 15. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but the benefits are profoundly beneficial.
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