I take calcium for my bones, I work-out to DVD’s in my basement for my heart, I spend way too much on the perfect shampoo and conditioner, and even though I entertain the thought, I don’t allow myself to eat bacon every day.
It’s crazy how much of my daily routine revolves around all of the little things I do to take care of myself and my family, but what’s even more crazy is that it wasn’t until two years ago that I did anything at all to support the health of my brain.
Our brains are the control centres of our bodies. We can’t think, scratch our heads, get into a bad mood, or laugh without our brains giving us the go-ahead. We are nothing without our beautiful brains, and its high time we acknowledged that. So here are four, very simple habits to incorporate into your daily routine for a happier, healthier brain. They take next to nothing to incorporate into your existing routine, and I can attest that you will be feeling more alert and happier ,virtually instantly.
1: DRINK MORE WATER!
I know, you’ve heard it before but there’s a reason people keep telling you to drink more water, and it’s not just because your skin looks a million times better when you do.
As it turns out, your beautiful brain weighs about three pounds, and 85% of those three pounds is water. Your brain is constantly popping with electrical signals produced by over 100 million neurons, and for those neurons to function effectively, and for the waste that all of that activity produces to be flushed out, so that you can think clearly and produce all of the chemicals that you need to feel good all over, you must replenish that water. The fact that 75% of us are chronically dehydrated, means that 75% of us are hindering our mental health, and making our lives harder than they need to be.
Drinking those 8-10 glasses of water each day, increases cognitive function, increases mental alertness, reduces daytime fatigue, reduces illness, premature aging, and increases your metabolic function.
HAPPINESS TIP: Drink at least two glasses of water before you reach for that morning coffee. Your morning co-commuters will thank you for it.
For some wonderfully, fantastic reason, the very simple act of curling the sides of your mouth upward, into the shape of a “u”, triggers your brain to activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System to release what is essentially your body’s Rest & Digest juice.
When you smile, and your rest and digest juice starts flowing, your heart rate slows down, your breathing regulates, oxygen starts pumping through your body more effectively, your digestion improves, and your immune system, memory, and higher-level thinking is enhanced. So just smile gosh darnit!
HAPPINESS TIP: don’t feel like smiling? FAKE IT! Force those lips to turn upward, hold it there, and breathe deeply. Within about a minute you’ll find that faux smile will begin to feel genuine, but even if it doesn’t, keep smiling anyway, your mind will still reward you for it.
3: STOP MULTI-TASKING
What? Madness, I know. How would we get through the day without multi-tasking? Take it from somebody who literally had “fantastic multi-tasker” listed in her resume for a decade.
As it turns out, multi-tasking is literally impossible. Hear me out before you get all defensive. I’m not saying that you, personally can’t multi-task, I’m saying that we, as a species, cannot, multi-task.
Let’s say, you’re plugging away at a project at work, you’re super into it, and you hear your the chime, and that little window pops up, alerting you of a new email.
That one little distraction, just hearing and taking a peek at that teensy little alert, directed your brain’s focus away from the project and onto the email. So even though you only looked away for a second, your brain has been strained, and needs 8 to 11 minutes to get back into that same, deep focus you had just a second ago. So even though you’re now back to the project, it’s going to take some time for you to get back into that groove of optimal productivity.
Here’s the rub, the average worker today, spends 11 minutes on any given task before being distracted. Which means that we’re spending most of our time, being distracted as opposed to being optimally productive; straining our minds, taking way too long to get each task completed, while making mistakes we don’t need to be making.
The next time you’re distracted, take a deep breath and ask yourself, do I need to give this distraction my full attention? Is doing so, supporting my current goal?
HAPPINESS TIP: Make it easier on your brain and do one thing at a time. Turn alerts off until you have the time to focus on that call, text or email. When I’m in the car, I have the phone on silent and keep it out of reach so that I’m never tempted to read or respond to a message I can’t legally respond to anyway. It makes every trip so much more enjoyable.
4: BE GRATEFUL
For some reason, simply turning your attention toward those things in your life for which you are grateful, is like an instant dose of happiness and healing for your brain. Multiple studies have revealed that being grateful can make you more resilient to stress, and improve your heart health. In my opinion, being grateful is the single greatest gift you can give to yourself, with the power to inject happiness into any mood.
HAPPINESS TIP: Start your day by directing your attention to two or three specific things for which you are grateful. I have a sticky note on my bathroom mirror to serve as a reminder for those busy mornings. Today I decided to be grateful for #BellLetsTalk day, how much my husband loves his family, and for my daughter’s nose! We both had a blast while I chased her around the house kissing her nose.
Your brain works so hard for you, every second of every single day, never taking any breaks and rarely getting any credit. So be nice to that big, beautiful, brain of yours! You’ll be rewarded for it, with better moods, more energy and improved focus. Start by reaching for that glass of water, go ahead, chug.
Stephanie Angelone Harding is the founder of MindSavvy, a stress-busting, health-improving, productivity-enhancing training program for organizations and individuals, that wish to transform their lives…in as little as ONE hour.
Know Your Mind, Transform Your Life.