Women are more likely than men to have brain health issues such as anxiety, depression, autoimmune disorders (such as multiple sclerosis), headaches and migraines, and Alzheimer’s disease. More so, women are more likely than men to die of stroke. There’s no better time to talk about women’s brain health than now.
Brain health is linked to your lifestyle. It’s everything that you do – and don’t do – when it comes to thinking, moving, and feeling in your everyday life. Maintaining brain health can help you reduce personal risks for diseases and/or illnesses that cause your brain to function at less than optimal levels (such as cognitive impairment and various forms of dementia). So, how do you increase your brain health? Utilize these five tips:
Establish a Brain Fitness Routine
Your brain needs a workout too! It is important to look for activities that are new, novel, and offer an appropriate level of challenge. Some examples include completing daily word puzzles, reading on a new topic, watching an interesting lecture, and discussing ideas or current events with others. Regardless of what activity you choose, you should aim to engage your brain for a minimum of two hours per week, or 15-20 minutes per day.
Engage in Physical Exercise for a Healthier Brain
Physical exercise supports your brain because it helps increase the blood flow needed for boosts in attention, memory, processing speed, decision-making, and mood enhancement. It is recommended that you move throughout the day, even if it’s for 5-minute intervals during each hour. Research shows that these 5 minutes of activity offers an array of health benefits. You’re worth those 5 minutes.
Brain Health: Pay Attention to Your Body’s Clock
Your body’s internal clock, also known as a circadian rhythm, influences your sleep and wake cycles, and when you are most productive during the day. It is important that you stay attuned to your internal clock so you can set yourself up for success. Ask yourself: Is the morning, afternoon, or evening the best time for brain health routines such as physical exercise, meditation, or engaging in challenging tasks?
Take 5-Minute Brain Breaks
Overworking your brain can cause fatigue and low mood. To give your brain a break, think about short, purposeful tasks that allow you to escape the daily grind. For example, try getting up and moving, spending time with a pet, going outdoors, writing in a gratitude journal, experiencing a good laugh, singing in the car, or calling a loved one. Use this time to bring joy to your day and lift up your spirit.
Make Your Self-Care a Priority – Not an Option
Start simple. Purposefully make one decision each day that is better for your brain and body. Small changes can lead to lasting habits. It is important to recognize that self-care may be dynamic and change over time and across situations that involve stress. You have the ability to build daily habits and plans that nourish your mind, body, and spirit during difficult times and transitions.
Let’s Promote Women’s Brain Health Together
Brain health is a women’s health issue. Although your wellness journey may look different, we all share the basic principles of keeping our brains engaged, moving our bodies, and promoting restfulness to optimize brain health. Interested in learning more? Check out the following initiatives to gain more information and get involved:
- WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s: https://bebrainpowerful.org/
- Women’s Brain Health Initiative: https://womensbrainhealth.org/
- The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement: https://thewomensalzheimersmovement.org/
- Global Alliance on Brain Health: http://brainhealthally.org/about-us/
Dr. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, M.Awith Jessica Headley, PhD, LPCC-S
Dr. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, M.A.
Founder, Virtual Brain Health Center | https://www.virtualbrainhealthcenter.com/
Senior Atlantic Fellow, Global Brain Health Institute