Resolutions That Are Good for Your Brain
New Year's resolutions can help us feel control of our goals, but sometimes they contribute to our sense of failure if we fall off the wagon in terms of losing weight, giving up alcohol, or going to the gym. Instead of setting hard-and-fast big goals, such as "lose 50 pounds," look for ways to make small changes that can affect your physical health or mental/emotional well-being. Why not make 2021 the year that your easy-to-implement resolutions are geared toward improving your brain? Start with these tips:
1. Add a little meditation. Just 15 minutes of peace and quiet to focus on your breath can help you recenter and clear your head. Research has shown that meditation and mindfulness practices can help with attention, memory and focus and improve our stress response. Additionally, it appears to physically strengthen our brains by reducing anxiety and, over the long term, fight the decline in gray matter.
2. Take a virtual (aerobic) exercise class. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can boost brain function, particularly in those at risk or diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
3. Add a few brain foods to your diet. Make it a goal to eat fatty fish, such as salmon or sardines, at least twice a week. Doing so may help boost your brain health, slow cognitive decline and keep the rest of your body healthy.
4. Learn something new. It's never too late to learn to play a musical instrument, speak another language or try a new hobby. Studies have shown that doing new things is particularly beneficial for the brain.
5. Focus on better sleep. While quantity is important (somewhere close to 7-8 hours of sleep per night is ideal for most adults), so is quality. If you have sleep apnea, make 2021 the year to treat it by scheduling an appointment with a sleep specialist. Few things are as important to brain health as good quality sleep!