As we age, we notice our bodies changing, it becomes easier to lose strength and flexibility and aches and pains are more common. It’s not just because of aging, it’s because we have mistreated ourselves and our bodies with chronic stress, crappy food, and too little sleep for too long. When it comes to taking steps to undo this damage, maintaining our bodies is a common concern — but what about maintaining our brains?
If you haven’t heard of Dr. Shelly Sethi, she’s a board-certified family physician who wrote the book ‘Built to Thrive’. She is an expert in integrative medicine and has joined me to share some tips to promote brain health, vitality, and energy in your daily life.
5 Tips for Energy, Vitality, and Brain Health
The first, and possibly the most obvious area to clean up is your sleeping habits. It’s so easy to sacrifice sleep to get one more thing crossed off that to-do list, but I’m here to tell you it’s not worth it. When we haven’t had enough sleep, our decision-making is impaired, leading to poor choices in every aspect of our lives, including nutrition. So get to bed on time!
We want to make sure that we’re getting enough sleep of course, but also that we’re sleeping at the right time. Our bodies are tied into the cycle of the universe, so while sleeping from 1-9am is technically your full 8 hours, your brain won’t feel as well rested as it would if you had slept from 10-6am.
The next pillar of health is movement. Now as soon as I say this, I’m sure I have some of you thinking how much you hate the gym, or you just don’t have time. Remember, you don’t have to think of it as an hour-long workout routine. It can be even just 5 minutes. Some squats before your meeting, playing with your kids in the garden, lugging your groceries up the stairs, the important thing is that it’s a weight-bearing (standing) movement for at least 15 minutes per day.
It’s also important to sweat once a day, but interestingly this doesn’t have to be at the same time we practice movement. You could go for a walk in the cold for 15 minutes and later spend 15 minutes sweating in the sauna and it would still give you the same detox benefits. The goal is to raise your body temperature by 1 degree.
When you’re running around from place to place like a chicken with its head cut off, making time for friends and family can seem like the last thing on your mind.
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s BS. Making time for community not only reduces our feelings of loneliness and stress but it builds resilience against illness. Studies have shown that people who participate in church groups and make time for community develop less coughs and colds, but are also less likely to suffer from more serious conditions such as cancer and autoimmune issues.
4. Meditation and Breathwork
Meditation is an excellent tool to keep our minds sharp and our energy levels full. For people who might feel intimidated by meditation or haven’t had much success with it in the past, breathwork might be the next best thing. Dr. Sethi suggests trying a 4, 7, 8 breath to help calm the mind and maximize productivity and creativity. I’d suggest trying this tutorial with Dr. Weil on YouTube.
If you’d like a little help with your meditation or feel like you need some support, try a guided meditation through apps such as Headspace or Calm. These apps can help give us something to focus on and distract us from our own thoughts so that we can focus on letting go.
5. Gratitude Practice
Similar to meditation Dr. Sethi also suggests gratitude practice. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be specific. Don’t just say what you are grateful for, say why you are grateful for it. How is your life better thanks to this thing/this person?
She even says that if you thank your brain for the energy you are going to have that day, it tricks your brain into thinking it will have a lot of energy and thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So with all these tips in mind, go forth! Reinvigorate your mind and body and get your vitality back. If you are looking to implement some new habits but would like a little support, check out the Your Daily® Health Coaching app. It’s a personalized program that helps you make changes towards your healing journey and incorporates all of the above into your bite-sized coaching.