Our brains are the most complex structures in the known universe. Every person’s mind is very different from every other person. Our brains are shaped by our genetic potential, physical health, emotional health and by the sum of our life experiences.
We know that the human brain possesses a high level of plasticity. Our mind is malleable, always evolving according to our thoughts and experiences.
- For example, almost anyone can develop a business brain by doing things such as studying finance and working in a business environment.
- Brain plasticity is essential for learning new things, retaining memories, and recovering from personal trauma or a brain injury.
Boosting our brain health and achieving a higher level of mental acuity is a worthy goal. Targeting brain health is a good way to ensure we maximise our overall well being.
The brain is a sensitive organ that reflects the overall quality of our life, including things such as having fun and good relationships. If you take excellent care of your brain, you are looking after your whole self. Here are three of the best ways to achieve a healthy brain.
1. Challenge your mind
Challenging your mind with novel activities builds new brain cell connections, increasing your mental strength and flexibility. You may need to give yourself a push if you have fallen into comfortable routines and habits. Repeating things generally means you are reinforcing existing connections, not forming new ones.
Ways of stimulating your mind include learning a new game, living in a different culture, taking online courses, and mixing up your weekend activities.
Challenging your mind does not have to be hard work. Much of it comes down to attitude. Being open to new experiences, ideas and opinions can stimulate new ways of thinking. You need to open your mind to expand your mind.
2. Be socially engaged
Human beings are social creatures. Our brains have evolved to be socially connected and part of a culture. Indeed, rewards from social interaction are believed to be a key driving force behind the development of large brains. Our brains have an innate capacity for processing, in sophisticated ways, the myriad of data that come from social interaction.
Being socially engaged is a natural way to stimulate your mind and really get it working. Provided your social experiences are positive overall, engaging with others boosts your brain fitness. While alone-time is also important, time with others is necessary to unlock your cognitive potential.
3. Find inner calm
Creativity, strategic thinking and focus are some of the higher-level brain functions that tend to emanate from an initial state of inner calm. In a relaxed state, your mind is free to explore. You build up mental energy and allow natural ordering of your consciousness. Calmness prepares you for innovative or deliberate thinking.
Finding inner calm is sometimes challenging. Removing stress triggers and unwanted distractions is a good place to start. You also need rest, adequate sleep and a good balance of activities. Mental fatigue is often the result of trying to do the same kinds of mental tasks over and over again. Mixing up activities helps avoids this. A walk in the park or a lunch date, for example, can feel refreshing because they shift your attention.
Sustained inner calm depends on achieving a balanced lifestyle that works for you. It also helps to manage your thinking, diverting mental energy towards productive activities such as problem solving. If you experience persistent anxiety and/or suffer panic attacks, therapeutic action may be beneficial. Potential solutions include taking a break from stress-causing activities, cognitive therapy and other relaxation techniques.