You probably already invest a lot of time and energy into your skincare, healthcare, and haircare; researching, perfecting your routine and finding out what works best for you. But, what about your mental health and brain care?
Why we were prioritising what’s on our heads, over what’s in our heads?
Mind-care covers all the actions and behaviours that contribute to a healthy brain. A healthy brain is a 360 thing, so mind care also covers diet, breath, mindfulness, rest, movement, compassion, learning, digital diet, and self-care.
Choosing to make is part of your daily routine protects your mental and physical health, now—and for your future.
Why Mind care matters
Your brain impacts how you feel on a daily basis. It affects everything from your energy levels, to your focus, to how balanced your mood is..
The 9 key elements for a healthy Mind
Did you know that 99% of us don’t get the nutrition our brains need from our diets?
Some of the foods which are great for the brain:
Green, leafy vegetables
5+ different coloured fruits and vegetables every day.
Oily fish 2x a week or take an algae-based omega 3 supplement
Legumes and pulses
2L water a day
Most of us are under constant, chronic stress—always being ‘on’, and juggling work, life, deadlines, admin, social engagements, and home responsibilities can mean that our stress response is triggered many times throughout the day.
Breathing doesn’t take any conscious thought, it just happens, but how you breathe is directly related to how you react, and vice versa.
If you’re stressed, chances are that your breathing is rapid, shallow, and only into your chest. Breathing this way is exciting to your nervous system (not in a good way), and triggers a stress response—putting you in a reactive state.
A consistent practice of slowing down the breath creates change in the way you naturally respond to stress. Every day, try to take one minute, and breathe slowly in and out, just six times. Repeat as often as you like.
Mindfulness can encompass a lot of different things from gratitude and journalling, to yoga or eating—all it needs from you is to be completely present.
One of the main ways to include mindfulness in your day is meditation. Along with a lot of other benefits, it also helps to train your brain to be more mindful in other areas of your life too. Meta study analyses have attested to the effect meditation has on both your nervous system and brain, from the regulation of stress response to thickening your grey matter in the areas of attention and emotion regulation.
Evolution gives us a pretty good indication of how important sleep is for the brain. Instructions for a daily rest are hard-wired into our DNA. We can survive for longer without food than without sleep.
So what was the evolutionary advantage for our cave-dwelling ancestors to lie down with our eyes closed, as predators prowled around outside? Why haven’t we evolved not to sleep?
And especially for today’s workaholics, the idea of ‘switching off’ for the recommended 7-9 hours each night can feel like a threat to career survival…
We need to stop thinking about sleep as switching off. Quite the reverse. Sleep is an active process for repairing and enhancing brain performance—and is essential for a healthy brain. Even a cheeky 10-minute nap can improve mood and memory.
Our bodies and brains are designed for, and need, lots of regular movement throughout the course of the day.
So yes, absolutely leap around your living room, do your downward dogs, and squeeze in a quick 5K—but it’s important for your brain to make sure you’re generally moving throughout the day too.
Walking is an easy solution our brains adore and are built to profit from. Lots of regular, reliable, rhythmic, up-tempo walking throughout the day stimulates the production of molecules promoting brain health and even brain resilience to the effects of chronic stress. (Obviously, much easier to do when you’re not in lockdown!)
The act of caring—either for yourself or others—triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. When this is engaged is when we are at our healthiest.
We can positively affect our health by consciously making this shift into compassion, but it does take some work.
With time and practice (like building into your daily braincare habits), kindness and compassion can actually shrink the area of your brain associated with the flight or fight response—the amygdala—making room for other areas of the brain to increase in size.
Being genuinely kind and compassionate can even help you to live longer. Seriously.
Listen to how kindness can impact your life with expert Dr James Doty
Continuous learning throughout your life is a great way to encourage neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change and adapt. This is important because a flexible brain is more easily able to:
learn, and pick up new skills
adapt to new situations
Learning something new provides an opportunity for a new neural connection to be created in the brain.
Learning a new craft or hobby can be a great for neuroplasticity, and did we mention fun! You can see Candle Making Workshop dates here.
Our lives are increasingly digital-dependent. But, do you ever consider its impact on your brain and mental health?
Looking at your digital diet how to incorporate play into your day. Here’s what it could look like for you:
- Making sure to have some screen-free time in the day
- Do things that purely bring joy and aren't tie to an outcome.
- Think of how you can add some lightness to your day.
- Think of the things you loved to do when you were a child. This could be painting, candle making, hide and seek, cartwheels on the beach..do it!
A act of self-care that your brain will thank you for. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Block out a few hour in the diary just for you.
- Have a long bath with luxurious Essential Oils.
Dance, sing or get creative.
Light a Candle and set an intention for the day.