These times are certainly challenging but I find it helpful for my mental resilience to continue to set goals and move forward.
Every quarter I think it is a great time to set some new goals. At Fit Minds we like to do a Check Up from the Neck Up to set goals around brain health.
Today I want you to ask yourself – “what one new thing could you add to your life that would make a difference to your brain health?”
In this post I’m going to ask you six questions to provoke your thinking in this area. I want you to give yourself a score using a 5-point rating scale, where 1 equals does not describe me at all and 5 equals describes me perfectly.
Each Friday during our Facebook Live Fit Minds Friday Challenges, I will give you a concrete focus where you can set a goal, but today I’m going to give you an overall panorama so you can do some big picture thinking. Follow us on Facebook to be alerted to the Friday challenges.
The first area to think about when considering brain health is your level of socialization. We are wired to connect to each other. Loneliness or isolation has a very negative effect on brain health.
When thinking about your social networks, does this statement describe you?
- I have at least 2 to 3 interactions with people I care about every week.
[Score on a scale of 1 – 5 with 5 if this totally describes you]
In one study, individuals who had face-to-face contact with family and friends two to three times per week experienced a 50% drop-in rates of depression. This was really hard during the pandemic. But now that things are opening up, you might want to focus on reconnecting in person rather than over a phone or computer.
The second area to think about is physical activity. Research shows that physical activity is very important for brain health and can even impact the production of new brain cells.
When thinking about the amount of physical exercise you do, does this statement describe you?
- I do some type of physical exercise that I enjoy every day? 5 for yes it totally describes me or 1 for it doesn’t describe me at all.
Research shows that 52 hours in six months is the minimum amount of exercise necessary to positively impact brain health – that is 2 hours per week. So if you do 17 minutes and 15 seconds of physical exercise everyday – you will meet your two hour threshold.
The third area to think about is nutrition. Nutrition has a big impact on brain health. Researchers are developing a scale to measure brain essential nutrients in our diets and psychiatrists are exploring the use of nutrition therapy to treat depression and dementia.
When thinking about what you eat, does this statement describe you?
- I eat well, including sufficient fruits and vegetables in my daily diet? Give yourself a 5 if you eat 7 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
I think most of us probably fail in that area – I know I certainly need to do better.
If you want some more information about the BEN scale, check out our blog post: Brain Essential Nutrients and Breakfast and Beyond
The fourth area to think about is your spiritual or inner life. Maintaining inner peace and reducing levels of stress is very important for our mental health. One of the ways that we can be more reflective and reduce stress is taking time to sit quietly and just breathe.
When thinking about your inner life, does this statement describe you?
- I spend time each day in silence, slowing down my breathing and taking time to reflect.
There was an article in today’s paper about the use of oxygen to treat mild cognitive impairment. Certainly, our brains need oxygen, and it may sound silly but make sure you are taking time to breath, fully and completely through your nose.
The fifth area to think about is mental stimulation. Your brain needs new and complex activities to stay sharp. What is new and complex for me may not be new and complex for you. Make sure you are shaking up your routine a bit in this area and not always doing the exact same thing.
When thinking about your intellectual life, does this statement describe you?
- I try to exercise my brain with a challenging activity every day.
Cognitive exercise reduces dementia risk – add a new activity to stretch you mentally. If you are not signed up for our MyFitMinds daily brain challenge – that is certainly something you can do. Sign up here.
Passion and Purpose
The sixth area to think about is having passion and purpose in life. Research shows that if you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, you live longer and age better.
When thinking about meaning and purpose, does this statement describe you?
- I have a bucket list of items for personal growth or achievement that are meaningful to me.
Give yourself 5 if you have a bucket list and 1 if you don’t even know what a bucket list is.
Total Your Score
Finally, total up your score. Look at where you could improve and set some goals for the fall.
Over the next six weeks I’m going to give you a specific challenge in each of these six areas. So be sure to tune in next Friday at 11am for our next Fit Minds challenge.
See you next week.