Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Habits are actions we do consistently and, although not always easy to incorporate into our every day lives, the effort and dedication necessary for developing good habits is worth it. When we commit to healthy habits, we will reap the benefits. Applying practical methods to help build habits will, eventually, lead to those habits becoming routine. Our routines are a major factor in quality of life, how we feel, and what we are able to accomplish. 

​Establishing certain habits will allow each of us to decide what kind of experience we want to have in regards to the life we live. By utilizing the power of our brains, we can unlock our ability to feel better, think clearer, and live healthier both physically and mentally. In regards to fitness, most of us tend to think in terms of physical appearance, but we also need to be mindful of our cognitive fitness as well. Because our brain health affects our physical health and our physical health affects our brain health, it is vital to establish habits that find a harmonious balance between the two.

Think about how you might feel when you seem to have a million different things to do, and you're concerned that you might not have time to get them all done or worried that you'll forget something important. A great tool to help organize and keep track of that information would be a checklist, writing each task down and prioritizing them so that you ensure it all gets done and nothing gets forgotten. This is a bit like the purpose of a habit. Forming habits gives the brain the opportunity to conserve mental energy and forms routine tasks into automated actions which, in turn, requires less cognitive effort. When we conserve our brain power through habitual exercises, our mental capacity is reserved for more complex tasks. Not only is this efficient in regards to our brain energy, but you'll find there is a positive impact on our physical energy, as well. 

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself, and this remarkable ability is strengthened when we form habits. Neural pathways are enhanced when repeated behaviors are present, making it possible for these repeated actions to become habits. If we choose to make these habits healthy ones, such as exercise, nutrition choices, and others, our brain plasticity is also increased. By having consistent habits, our stress can more easily be managed due to the resulting predictability and structure. When we have the capability to manage our stress, we reap benefits such as improved mental health as well as cognitive function. Less stress can help us feel better both physically and mentally, and even has a positive impact on sleep patterns. 

Do you see the cycle in which our brains and bodies are working together? 

Forming new habits can be overwhelming if we put too much pressure on ourselves by expecting these actions to easily become routine. This can even be stressful if we are aiming for perfection or immediate results, and the added stress counteracts the effort at making a positive change in our lives. Remember to be patient with yourself. Start small and allow yourself some grace as you work toward self improvement. Setting ourselves up for success with manageable goals will increase momentum and boost confidence. 

If you're wanting to incorporate supplements into your daily routine, place them near your toothbrush or somewhere you'll see them so that it's easier to remember to take them. Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy significantly increases the actuality that you'll do it, because it won't be something that you dread. Another useful tip is placing your workout clothes and equipment where you'll see it and be reminded to make the time for this important routine.

A popular goal is eating healthier, and this is certainly a vital step in improving the brain's health. This is also a critical time to remember that starting small will likely be more beneficial rather than completely changing everything all at once when it comes to forming long-term habits. Adding one serving of vegetables to your meals is an excellent way to begin making healthy changes to your nutrition. 

'Habit Stacking' is another method that can increase the potential for these actions to develop into habits. If your goal is to walk more often and learn more about a particular subject of interest, try listening to a podcast while you walk. This form of multi-tasking can also increase your sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue. 

When we understand and apply these strategies, the idea of building healthy habits doesn't have to seem daunting or impossible. Establishing habits that will support the health of your brain while also enriching your quality of life will lead to significant long-term results that will greatly benefit both your body and your brain. 

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