Activate Your Mind
Being healthy and vibrant isn’t just about your body. You need a healthy mind and spirit, too. The brain only takes up about 2 percent of our total body weight, but uses 20% of our body’s energy and oxygen. It’s the control center of our world.
Quick Fact: Over 90% of diseases are caused or complicated by stress.
- Stretch Your Mind – The human brain can hold 5 times as much information as the printed encyclopedia (remember that thing?). And staying mentally active throughout life (not just starting in retirement!) can ward off proteins connected with Alzheimer’s. So give your brain a workout. Try reading one of the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels or 100 Best Nonfiction books of all time. Use the cognitive brain-training tools (including an app) from Lumosity. Take an inexpensive online course from a site like Udacity or a class from one of the world’s best universities on edX. Or just attend an interesting event in your community (Santa Barbara; Lompoc; Santa Maria)
- Get mindful – Neuroscientists observe increases in gamma (high level) brain activity and the circuits that control happiness in experienced meditators, driven just by the mental activity of meditating. Read more on mindfulness here. There is a lot of basic meditation instruction available online (e.g. YouTube). Try this 5 minute video from UCLA, or these audio meditations from UCLA or this collection from Deepak Chopra.
- Laugh Attack – It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown. Unless you’re trying to give your face a bit of a workout, smiling is a much easier option for most of us. Laughter is generally good for your body Our #1 tip – when you hear laughter, move toward it. Generally, spend time with people you find funny. Watch a humorous movie. Practice these laughter exercises. Or if you really want to go for it, join a Laughter Club – it’s a legitimate international movement!
- Work It Out – An estimated 1 in 10 people at any moment are depressed. Yet among other treatments, depressed people can alleviate their symptoms by as much as 47 percent with regular exercise. So create a double-win for yourself by scheduling 30 minutes of vigorous activity 3x a week. It will help your body and might just edge those chronic blues away.
Quick Fact: The brain generates as much energy as a 10-watt CFL light bulb, even when you’re sleeping. The cartoon image of a light bulb over your head when a great thought occurs isn’t too far off the mark!
- Get Poked – Acupuncture is one component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a system quite different than our own that helps millions of people every day. It’s useful not only for illness but maintaining balance and mental health. Acupuncture is receiving increasingly widespread acceptance in US medical circles, and is sometimes paid for or discounted through health insurance. Read more from the NIH. Ask your physician her thoughts or check your health benefits. And then try Acufinder to locate a doctor nearby.
- Cat Nap – A 15-20 minute nap can help you consolidate new information, make up for missed sleep the night before, and dramatically cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Listen Up – This radio show hosted by two best friends and empowerment experts, each week provides an hour of motivation, tips, and advice to keep you healthy and happy. Tune in to the on-demand radio show online, or in a podcast format; available on iTunes, too.