Last updated September 23, 2023
Have you ever heard of a brain routine? With morning and bedtime rituals the latest craze, it’s no wonder that creating a healthy brain habit is also trending. But this so-called brain routine actually paves the pathway toward brain health.
You’re probably thinking, what exactly is a brain routine? Just like a morning routine, a brain routine is specific to the individual—as we each have unique builds, bodies, genetics and environments.
However, adopting a healthy lifestyle is the main component of building a killer brain routine. A lifestyle that boosts your energy promotes relaxation, creates laughter with family members and friends, and focuses on a nutrient-rich diet is central to building optimal brain health and thus an optimal brain routine.
The key to creating a healthy lifestyle that takes care of your brain is understanding and applying the six pillars of brain health. Each of these pillars protects your brain and has a substantial impact on its overall health. Creating healthy brain habits will keep your brain feeling happy, healthy and young by possibly reducing cognitive decline.
Six Ways to Brain Health
Below, you will find the six pillars of brain health and expert tips on how to practice each of these, whether at home or traveling for a weekend getaway. Commit to growing in each of the pillars and watch how your brain health skyrockets.
1. Commit to Your Physical Fitness
It’s probably no surprise that exercise is at the top of the list! Research shows regular physical activity, whether strength training, cardiovascular workouts, yoga or a brisk walk, all do wonder for your brain’s well-being.
Aerobic exercises specifically have been shown to:
- Decrease depression and anxiety
- Improve sleep
- Improve mood
- Help in weight loss
- Increase energy
- Help alleviate stress
Expert tip: Find a workout routine you enjoy, and start implementing it today. You can grab a buddy for accountability, or workout solo, just get moving.
2. Get Mentally Fit
While physical fitness is essential, we can’t forget about its equally important sibling—mental fitness. The easiest way to remember this pillar of the brain is to acknowledge the trifecta—mind, body and soul.
The mind, or brain, is responsible for processing human thoughts, emotions and movements, so it requires daily strengthening. Exercising your brain promotes cell growth, strengthens the connection of your neurons and can help improve your brain functioning.
Research shows mental fitness can even aid in cognitive decline, reducing the chance of developing dementia. The trick to being intellectually engaged is to partake in meaningful activities you enjoy. Consider playing an instrument, learning to paint, trying out a new puzzle or any other hobby that you fancy.
Expert tip: Start that new hobby you’ve always been thinking about or volunteer at an organization you admire.
3. Engage in Social Activities
The last of the trifecta—mind, body and soul—is the soul. This pillar of brain health easily falls into the soul arena, along with spirituality and spiritual practices. Participating in social activities, and making sure you have an engaging social life, is extremely important for your brain.
Flexing your social fitness helps you feel deeply connected to others, it diminishes feelings of loneliness and can improve your overall well-being. Besides, who doesn’t love a good belly laugh with a loved one?
Expert tip: Decide what social event you’ve been wanting to attend this week and go. Another idea is calling a loved one and engaging in a meaningful conversation.
4. Stress Less, Sleep and Relax More
Chronic stress and sleep deprivation wreak havoc on your body. It’s important to get quality sleep every night and to monitor your daily stressors. Too much stress can negatively impact the body and can potentially affect memory and learning.
Some of the best ways to combat this are to try meditation, yoga, Tai Chi—and vacation more. In particular, a study by Science Daily illustrates vacations have an immediate positive impact on our stress levels.
Expert tip: This is your sign to book that vacation you’ve been wanting to take.
5. Nourish Your Body with Good Foods
Can we all agree that food is heavenly? One thing to keep in mind when eating is to remember the nourishing benefits of foods. Eating a nutrient-dense diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, proteins (fish, lean meat, poultry), nuts, legumes and whole grains is essential.
On the other hand, it’s important to be mindful of how much sugar, salt and fats you consume in your diet. A general rule of thumb is to eat foods that energize you and to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Expert tip: Write down what food group you feel you’re not getting enough of, and then write down a new healthy food item you can incorporate.
6. Stay on Top of Your Medical Health
Have you booked that annual check-up? Do you know your family medical history? These are great questions to ask yourself to keep your brain happy and healthy. They will help you stay aware of any medical risks (dementia, high cholesterol, obesity, anxiety, depression, etc.) within your family.
Staying up-to-date with your doctor is a great way to stay on top of your medical health. Ask your practitioner any questions you may have, follow their recommendations, take your vitamins and any prescriptions they’ve given you.
Expert tip: When was the last time you saw your doctor? Make sure to schedule your annual wellness visit.
As Daniel G. Amen quotes in his book Change your Brain, Change Your Body: “Practice saying no to the things that are not good for you, and over time, you will find it easier to do.”
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