Your brain is truly the most amazing part of your body. It remains the most important asset you possess as a student. The brain comes up with creative ways to express your thoughts and emotions, helps you coordinate movements from dicing onions to scratching your itch, stores your most precious childhood memories, and helps you solve the crossword puzzles. The powers the brain give you, can easily be taken for granted.
Many people don’t start thinking about their brain health until they notice some cognitive changes and memory loss. But there are many things you can do, starting right this moment to keep your brain as healthy as possible throughout your lifetime. A few things to look out for in keeping that three-pound piece of grey matter in top shape are;
One of the most important strategy, is to work to stay on top of your cardiovascular health. You want to keep blood moving easily through your heart and blood vessels. High cholesterol levels, smoking, and diabetes all increase the risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases by impeding blood flow to the brain.
As a student, a healthy, active lifestyle will go a long way toward keeping your blood flowing and avoiding brain problems. A study conducted in Sweden on more than 29,000 women found that those who ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly, didn’t smoke, drank only moderately, and kept their body mass index (BMI) below 25 had a far lower risk of stroke than women who didn’t meet any of those five goals.
Plenty of Quality Sleep
A key way to keep your brain working is shut it off for 7-9 hours a night. Sleep is the most important thing you can do to reset the brain, allow it to heal, and to restore mental health. New research shows that during sleep, the brain clears out toxins called beta-amyloids that can lead to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Before you go to bed;
▪ Detox yourself digitally. Commit to the same bedtime each night, and turn off all phones, electronics and screens at least 30-60 minutes before you hit the pillow.
▪ Dump your worries. To help settle your brain, jot down any lingering concerns and a quick to-do list for tomorrow. Our thoughts are always racing, especially when it seems like we still have so much we haven’t done, provoking anxiety. But if you write it down with pen and paper, you tell your brain it doesn’t have to be concerned about those things while you sleep.
▪ Spend a moment meditating. Not only will 5-10 minutes of mindful meditation calm your brain and make it easier to sleep, meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and confusion. Meditation can benefit people with insomnia by helping them fall asleep and stay asleep. It also helps with inflammation in the brain.
With meditation, most people find not only do they sleep better, they can focus better and are not as anxious.
Move Your Body
Walking for 30 minutes a day, taking a dance class, or going for a swim helps keep you slim and fit, and it could improve your cognitive health, too. A large Canadian study found that the more physically active students are, the higher they scored on tests of memory and problem-solving. It has also been noted that exercise promotes the production of neurotrophins, leading to greater brain plasticity, and therefore, better memory and learning.
Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain. And studies have shown it can increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory, which naturally shrinks as you age. Researchers found that when you use your legs in weight-bearing exercise, the brain receives signals that spur it to make healthy new cells.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fat, full of the nutrients found in leafy green vegetables, along with whole grains can help keep your brain healthy throughout your life. For many people, following diets, which emphasizes fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and avocados, while limiting red meat is best.
One treat to consider adding to your diet: dark chocolate. New research has found that the flavanols in cocoa beans can help improve memory and cognitive function.
Instead of watching Youtube, Netflix or scrolling through Facebook endlessly, spend as much time as you can with friends. Why? When you’re socializing, the blood circulates to several different parts of your brain as you’re listening and formulating responses.
And when you’re connecting with friends, you’re less likely to get depressed. Depression can hamper how well your brain works. If you’re depressed or anxious, the brain becomes so occupied with what-ifs and worries that it’s not able to give 100% to learning new things.
Try New Things
Building new skills throughout your lifetime — how to cook Calabar food, how to play an instrument, even learning the rules of new card games or traveling to an unfamiliar city — helps keep your brain healthy by constantly creating new connections between brain cells.
Challenging your brain essentially creates backup system. The more intellectual stimulation you have, the more various neural circuits are used. And the more circuits you have, the harder it is for the changes associated with neurodegenerative diseases to manifest. It’s more helpful to master real-world skills than to play online games.
As a student, keeping your brain in top-notch condition should be priority numero uno. The six tips listed above, will help you get your brain in top shape in no time.
What other things do you do as a student to keep your brain in top shape? Do you think I missed anything in this article? Tell me in the comments below. I’d love to read them.