Women Over 40 and Brain Health
Do you ever walk into the kitchen and totally forget why you went there in the first place? Ever drive to work on autopilot when you were supposed to be driving to the grocery store? Do you forget your daily tasks if you don’t write them down?
Once we hit 40, it seems that our brains aren’t always able to keep up with our busy, daily lives. Brain health is something we don’t think about too much, but maybe we should. So, let’s explore what affects brain health, and learn some easy health and wellness flips that we can incorporate into our daily lives in order to improve our brain health.
How Does Daily Stress Impact Our Brain Health?
Stress Can Damage Your Memory and Brain
When you are stressed, do you ever get the feeling that your mind is racing from one thought to the next, and it’s hard to concentrate on just one thing? When we get stressed out, the host of chemicals that are responsible for our thoughts and memories start acting and reacting at faster rates than we are used to. This creates a sense of panic and unease in our bodies and leads us to feel emotionally overloaded. No fun.
Stress Can Change the Structure of Your Brain
Stress is such a powerful set of reactions and emotions that frequent stress can actually cause your brain to shrink in size, diminishing your brain health. If you continually experience high levels of stress over a long period of time, the structure of your brain can change. Studies reveal that humans who have gone through trauma and prolonged stress can lose brain cells and their brains can actually decrease in size and slow in function.
So, What Can You Do to Improve Your Brain Health and Combat the Effects of Stress on Your Brain?
How to Increase Your Brain Health
Luckily, there are quite a few health and wellness flips we can make in order stop or reverse the effects of stress and improve our brain health, especially for women over 40.
Get Your Dose of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
One of the most important nutrients you should be incorporating into your diet for you brain health is your Omega 3s. Omega 3 fatty acids help your brain retain its plasticity, and there help to nurture the part of your brain that stores memories. So be sure you’re getting enough Omega 3s. You can take a supplement, or eat a diet rich in the following sources of Omega 3s.
· Dark leafy green vegetables
· Chia seeds
· Flax seeds
· Oily fishes such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines
· Fish roe (caviar)
Bust Out Those Journals
I know I’m always harping on you to start journaling for your health and wellness, and I’m about to do it again! Writing is such a beneficial exercise for your brain health, because it employs several different parts of your brain, being a physical activity, a mental activity, and one that also ignites creativity. Writing also relies on your ability to recall information—this is why it seems easier to remember things when you write them down. The more you exercise these different parts of your brain, the better your brain health will be.
Eat Less Sugar
Sugar is one of the most addictive substances we eat. Most women will tell you that they have a sweet tooth. However, studies have been linking sugar to a decrease in cognitive function. Sugar gives us high and low energy spikes, and can lead to brain fog, confusion, and a reliance on a sugar buzz to keep us going in the middle of the day. Reducing sugar intake reduces the severity and frequency of inflammation in the body. This inflammation can lead to bloating, intestinal diseases, increase in allergies, exhaustion, and even brain fog.
Get your gears moving and your brain warmed up by stimulating your brain and improving brain health. Your brain is just like the muscles in your body, you have to use it to keep it in top shape.
Have Fun and Stimulate Your Mind with Games
Studies have shown that the mind can become sharper through the use of games such as word puzzles, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, and any other game that forces you to think and challenge your mind. Not only are these games fun, but they’ve been found to improve several areas of development including memory, global cognition and has even been shown to slow the effect of cognitive impairment brought on by disease.
When you participate in creative activities, you brain lights up with imagination. Even if you haven’t created anything since you were a kid, you still have creativity inside of you, just waiting to bust out. Creating something, like art, writing, drawing, or crafts, not only gets your brain working to improve brain health, but people who are creative on a regular basis are happier and say that they feel more balanced after taking part in creative activities.
Need some ideas to help you get creative?
Dive into a Good Book
Reading is great way to stimulate your mind and promote brain health. Scientists have been measurably track brain health improvements in people who start to take time to read. Frequent readers develop complex social skills that people who read less might lack. Reading also engages your imagination and makes your brain create images, sounds, thoughts, and ideas it normally wouldn’t have to invent if you didn’t read. This keeps your brain working in several different ways, and helps improve brain health.
Get More Exercise
Over the course of a person’s life, the amount of exercise they get can play a role in how their mind develops. When scientists studies the brains of athletes after performing, they have found an increased connectivity in the frontal cortex of their brains. That part of the brain is where you process plans for the future, weed through choices, and perform similar tasks in a day.
And, you might notice that when you exercise, you release stress. And, remember what I’ve already told you about stress and brain health. Releasing stress, especially through exercise, is one of the most beneficial activities you can do for you brain health and your overall health.
Taking time to meditate is a great way to release stress and center yourself. But, did you know that studies have shown that meditating can increase your IQ? Win, win, win.
Essential Oils for Improving Brain Health
Essential oils can be used to improve brain health and increase brain function. When you inhale essential oils, the tiny particles that make up the diffused oils, stimulate your olfactory receptors. These signals go right to your olfactory cortex and the limbic area of your brain, which is the part of your brain that controls feelings, emotions, memories, hormones, attention span and blood pressure/heart rate. This is why essential oils can benefit not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.
Rosemary is an earthy and homey scent that you can pair with a citrus oil such as Wild Orange or Lemon essential oil; it clears mental confusion and soothes feelings of tension. Diffuse Rosemary while you are working or reading to heighten alertness and focus.
Peppermint is naturally refreshing and invigorating. Use peppermint to lift your mood and get you motivated to learn or work.
Motivate is a unique doTERRA blend designed to elicit “feelings of confidence and courage will replace negative emotions like guilt and pessimism, with the doTERRA Motivate Encouraging Blend of mint and citrus essential oils.”
Herbs for Improving Brain Health
Nutrient rich foods like herbs give your body a punch of nutrients. And, different types fo herbs have different effects on our brain activity and brain health.
Ginkgo Biloba is used to help increase brain functionality. Ginkgo Biloba thins the blood and allows it to pass through your blood vessels more easily, even in the brain. Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood to function, and taking Ginkgo Biloba helps get extra blood pumping through your brain.
Tulsi is another herb that can help you to get more blood to the brain. Be careful, however, to be sure that you avoid taking it with blood thinners or if you suffer from hypothyroidism.
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs in the world, and it’s used by millions of people who are trying to gain a boost of energy and focus while working or studying. It helps your body to deal with stress, and it can help you to age more gracefully, so it’s always a good addition to any morning herbal tea routine as well.
Brahmi is often associated with aiding nervous system stress. Some studies have shown that it can be used to effectively reduce anxiety and increase memory recall functions. In some case it’s had positive effects on conditions like insomnia. That makes it a great aid to cope with all sorts of issues that stem from sleep disorders. Some people report that they become slightly more creative as well.
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