Neuroscience in the Global Village

1. Have a regular morning routine.

Starting each morning in a similar way can help you feel more grounded and focused as you prepare for the day ahead. Some people may find that sipping a cup of tea while reading or listening to the birds sing can help them feel centered. Others may spend 15 minutes in meditation, going for a walk, or doing some yoga. Whatever it is that helps you feel calmer and more mindful, rather than rattled and rushed, is good for your mental hygiene.

2. Disinfect your thoughts.

If your mind is filled with ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) that run rampant, it’s likely making you feel miserable, stressed, anxious, or depressed. Unfortunately, ANTs are very common — especially as social and political discord continue to abound, the COVID-19 pandemic still looms, and the nightly news seems to be filled with one tragedy after another. All of these can trigger the emotional centers in our brain, making those ANTs feel difficult to control.

  • Is it true?
  • Is it absolutely true — with 100% certainty?
  • How do you feel when you have this thought?
  • How would you feel if you didn’t have this thought?

3. Fit in time for physical activity.

The many benefits of exercise for your mental and physical health can’t be overstated. Not only does it help with your fitness, but it also promotes the growth of new brain cells and increases the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, as well as endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones. Physical activity can induce calmness and clarity, which elevate your mental hygiene. Exercising doesn’t have to be a chore — choose a variety of activities you enjoy. Better yet, get an exercise buddy to make it more fun. Even if you can only squeeze in 10–15 minutes at a time, it is still worth the effort.

4. Make good decisions about what you eat.

“Food is medicine, or it is poison.” Everything you drink or put on the end of your fork can help you feel energized and focused, or end up making you irritable, tired, and foggy-headed. A healthy balanced diet includes lots of fresh produce, clean protein, healthy fats, such as the ones from avocado and coconut, and foods like walnuts, salmon, and flax seeds that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Starting your day off with a boost of protein, whether it’s a brain-healthy smoothie, eggs, or almond flour pancakes can provide you with the energy and focus needed to achieve your goals. Sugar, processed foods, and alcohol do not support your mental or physical health, so steer clear of these. To help you make better decisions about food and beverages, every time you plan to consume something, ask yourself, “Is this good for my brain, or bad for it?”

5. Prioritize your sleep.

When you don’t get adequate amounts of sleep, it affects the health of your brain and body beyond feeling cranky and tired. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety, make you prone to cravings, addiction, and brain fog, cause weight gain, and elevate the risk for type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Avoid anything that interferes with your sleep, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Even though a drink might help you feel drowsy, alcohol decreases the stages of sleep that are the most restful.
  • Create a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time every morning.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. A white noise machine can help eliminate distracting sounds.
  • Turn off your devices and the TV at least an hour before you hit the hay. The blue light they emit can keep you more alert when your brain should be winding down.
  • Supplements like melatonin and magnesium can promote better sleep.
  • If you snore or stop breathing while asleep, have your doctor order a sleep study to assess for sleep apnea, a condition that deprives your brain cells of oxygen.

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J J Zavada

J J Zavada

Global Village Observer: I journal the disruption of socio-economic systems caused by our transition from the Industrial Park to the Global Village .