Our brains are overworked and underpaid. We multitask and brainstorm all day along. We text and email and, even when we lay down at night, we plot and plan the next day’s events. Our brains are starving and lack of brain boosting nutrients are not the only deficiencies we have. Just like you feed your body three times a day, you can turbo charge your brain to help you think, act and even sleep better. Here’s how:
Breakfast Time Boosters
Take a Breather. As frustrating as it can be to wake up with your mind already in turbodrive, it is actually a natural part of the sleep-wake cycle. Our brains are designed to create a perfect chemical brew of stimulating hormones to prepare us for waking up. Scientists have discovered that the leading “wake up” chemical, Adrenocorticotropin, which is known to prepare the body for a stressful events begins to increase about an hour before we wake up to prepare us for the “stress” of waking. But let’s face, we all have plenty enough stress during the day. We certainly don’t want to start the day stressed out so take a breather first thing upon waking. To balance the natural stress response of waking and start the day off with a sense of calm, take 7-10 long, deep belly breaths before you even put your feet on the ground. On each exhalation say the words “Thank you.” Not only are you oxygenating your body and lowering your stress chemicals, you are cultivating an attitude of gratitude which will promote happiness and boost your immune system among other benefits. Check out this article from Psychology Today learn more.
Shake It Up. When your feet hit the floor, tap or shake your body to clear the brain fog. Throughout the night our organs and systems are releasing toxins that we need to shed first thing in the morning. Our nose and lungs have excess mucus, our urine is cloudy, and we may even have slight body odor. These toxins can lead to brain fog. A quick shake or shimmy in the morning can help signal the blood and lymph systems to activate and begin the day clean and fresh. Check out this video for a quick demonstration on how to shake your body.
Pack in the Protein. Eat a protein-rich breakfast within an hour of waking. The brain communicates via chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals are mostly constructed from amino acids. Protein-rich foods contain amino acids. So whether you are a meat and egg paleo or have a plant-based protein shake routine, the brain needs the amino acids and sturdy, long lasting calories such as good fats to function optimally all day long.
Mid-Day Brain Bump
Stretch it Out. When lunch rolls around most people have been sitting in front of a computer for 4 or more hours. We’ve all heard that sitting too much is not good for our physical body but research shows a sedentary lifestyle may be actually thinning certain regions of our brains linked to memory. So get up and move around. If you don’t have time to fit in a walk or a lunch time yoga class, try a quick series of neck stretches to create more blood flow to the brain. Click to check out a video of stretches.
Get Out: The sun gives us the vital nutrient Vitamin D and recent studies show that decreased levels of D in older adults puts them at greater risk for dementia and other cognitive issues. Getting your face in the sun and your feet on the ground can have surprising benefits to your overall health and well-being. The simple act of standing or walking barefoot on the dirt, grass, sand or even concrete connects you to the Earth’s vast supply of electrons. These electrons help balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems resulting in an array of health benefits including reduced pain and better sleep. The technique is called Earthing and there is evidence to suggest that it can help decrease stress, pain and inflammation. Read more about it in our blog The 5 E’s to Better Zzz’s.
Take a Break. How often is lunch eaten with one hand on the steering wheel or inhaled in front of a computer screen, catching up on news or reading a book on our tablet? Our brains require more nutrients than any other organ. Keeping it constantly in the “on” position, diverts much need energy away from the important work of digestion. THis can lead to a midday crash and the need for a quick fix like sugar or caffeine.
Power Down at Dinner Time
Get Yourself Connected. Countless studies show the positive effect social connection and sharing time with others has on our mental health. In today’s fast paced world, the connection has become less and less of a priority. Ironically, our constant connection to the internet can make us feel disconnected from our fellow human beings. So it’s a bit surprising that one form of technology can help us connect even if we live alone. Facetime or Skyping a family member or friend can be a useful tool for the person-to-person interaction that is essential to our mental health and brain energy.
Elevate to Deflate. We’ve often referenced this simple and profound technique to shift your central nervous system from the stimulating sympathetic to the rest and repose parasympathetic part of our nervous system. Depending on your level of flexibility, you can simply lie on the couch with your feet resting on the arm or lie flat on your back with your feet up the wall. Either way, use this time (as little as 10 breaths or 10 mins) to wind down and assist your brain to calm and prepare for sleep.
Get in Rhythm. Our body’s have a natural rhythm and it’s called the circadian rhythm. The Sleep Foundation defines circadian rhythm as “basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.” To help your body move with the beat, turn the lights down if you are awake after dark and avoid screen time an hour before bed. Light is the enemy of sleep. It resets your internal day-night cycle and affects internal functions such as temperature regulation and hormone release which in turn affects the quality of your sleep. Sleep is critical to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. In fact, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep. Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role removing toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.
So if you want to lift the fog and turbo boost your brain for sharper thinking, reduced stress and better sleep, take time at breakfast lunch and dinner to give your brain the attention it is starved for.