Wow. It is hard to believe the holidays are upon us once again! It is supposed to be the “happiest time of the year”, but none of us will deny that it can also be a stressful time of the year. We feel pressure for it to be “perfect”. We seek the “perfect gift”, the “perfect meal”, the “perfect house”, and the “perfect family time”. But seeking perfection is stressful and, let’s face it, pretty darn impossible. This year, relax, try to lower your stress levels, and give your brain a break by taking steps to just remember what it’s all about. Enjoy the time with friends and family. Be thankful for your health. Enjoy making memories with those you love. Focus on positive emotions and building memories this holiday season.
Easy said, but how exactly do you do this?
We recommend getting in a little movement and activity instead of just sitting around on the couch (ok, we love that too and won’t deny you some quality couch time!) Start a dance party, play a game of frisbee or football outside, build a snowman with the kids, break out the Wii, or take a brisk walk with your family.
In addition to just plain feeling good after being surrounded by all that food, did you know that movement can release higher levels of good chemicals in your brain such as dopamine? You’ll activate feelings of pleasure in the brain. Goodbye holiday stress and anxiety! Dopamine can also help boost your memory (and hey, you’re working to turn this into a holiday you’ll WANT to remember!) You’ll also have increased focus and attention (for better quality time with loved ones), and in general you’ll just be giving yourself an all-around brain boost!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Fit Brains! We wish you health and happiness during this holiday season.
December. It’s a month of family get-togethers, gifts, shopping, and let’s face it, that usually comes with a heightened feeling of anxiety. It’s a wonderful time of the year, but it’s hardly a month that we associate with rest and relaxation. During this busy month it’s important to remember that your brain needs balance and inner peace to keep it functioning at it’s best. While it’s good to actively “exercise” your brain, just like your body, your brain also needs periods of rest in order to recharge. This is because chronic stress is bad for the health of your brain, and peace and quiet helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Neuroscientists are now exploring both religious and non-religious forms of spirituality and how they affect the brain. Practicing meditation can help reduce depression, anxiety and stress, and researchers at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia found that meditation can even specifically improve memory and concentration (Blumberg, 2014).
In addition to spiritual practices such as meditation, here are some other top tips to ease anxiety and find that inner peace and balance that your brain needs.
Engage in daily prayer and/or practice complete forgiveness
Engage in deep breathing (5 min. 3 times daily)
Focus on and repeat positive ideas
Engage in progressive muscle relaxation daily for 10 minutes (it’s pretty simple. First you deliberately tense your muscles and then simply relax them)
Muscle relaxation is even more effective if you pair it with visualization and imagery techniques! (create a mental image of a peaceful or attractive environment)
Give yourself 30 minutes a day to just stop and be at rest
Play Fit Brains Emotional Intelligence games that are designed to help you assess your mood and put you in a positive state of mind.
What are your favorite techniques for reducing stress and anxiety during this busy time of the year? Share your comments with us!
It’s that time of year again…Thanksgiving! Turkey, pumpkin pie, family, friends, more turkey, more pumpkin pie, football and falling asleep on the couch (probably after yet another helping of turkey and pumpkin pie!) But Thanksgiving is also so much more than that. It is first and foremost a day of thanks and it is important to consider all that we have and the many blessings in our lives.
Sure, no one’s life is perfect, but we can still take time at Thanksgiving to give thanks for what is going well in our lives.
What’s more, being thankful and thinking positively is also good for your brain! Some research indicates activity in the left front region of the brain when we have positive or happy thoughts. On the other hand, there is a similar type of activity generated in the right front region when we are nervous, stressed, or thinking negatively. So, this Thanksgiving, focus on the positive in order to activate the left front region of your brain, and enjoy the positive feelings as a result!
Health, both our own health and the health of loved ones, is always one of the most important things we should be thankful for if we are healthy. For instance, a strong, healthy brain is something to be especially grateful for! Also, if you are able to be together with friends and family, that is something else to be thankful for. Praying for those less fortunate is another way you can build up good feelings.
We urge you on this Thanksgiving to enjoy the company of those around you, while leaving any anxiety behind. And, try to carry these practices through into your daily life even when the holiday is behind you. It will have a positive impact on the health of your brain and you’ll be happier and healthier for it!
It’s National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month! We thank the 15 million+ Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in America.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, kills brain cells and interferes with cognitive abilities, emotions, behaviour and physical skills. It’s not a regular part of aging. And it’s a progressively debilitating disease that leads to death.
Did you know 47 million people worldwide and 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s? Every 67 seconds an American develops this disease. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. It can’t be cured or slowed unlike the other 9 leading causes of death. And two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women.
But There Is Hope
Even though there isn’t a cure, drugs and certain actions can manage the disease. Also, research shows that lifestyle factors and a positive outlook can help with brain aging. Recent UK study results conducted by the BBC, Alzheimer’s Society and the Medical Research Council indicate that regular brain training can benefit people over the age of 50. Findings from another well known study reveal that adults who learn new skills and do mentally stimulating activities like crosswords usually have lower rates of dementia. The notable Nun study indicates that an optimistic mind provides a natural defence against Alzheimer’s. And, here’s a twist, even though some nuns actually had the disease, they showed no outward symptoms, thanks to keeping their brains active and positive! Brain training can help maintain brain function and help prevent cognitive decline.
Quick Tips to Maintain Brain Function and Prevent Cognitive Decline
Hit the Gym
Nosh on a Healthy Diet
As Pharrel Williams Sings, Be Happy!
Challenge Your Mind with our fun free games! [hyperlink]
What is your favorite activity to boost your brain? Tell us in the comments! And follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips.
Your life story: it’s one of the most important assets you have. It’s your identity, what makes you, you. What’s more, it’s your family’s story that helps shape your personal life story. Do you have fond memories of hearing stories about your family history shared with you by grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles? Have those stories and collective wisdom helped shape who you are today? We all want to be able to play a part in keeping our family story and our personal story alive and we do this by sharing our stories with the next generation. But, none of this would be possible if we do not maintain a healthy brain as we age.
As we age, we need to keep our memories and our minds sharp so that we can preserve our stories and share them. One important thing you can do is maximize the health of your brain and strengthen your memory, in order to share your life story, keeping it alive. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping your brain mentally stimulated by engaging in specific activities such as playing brain training games will all have a positive impact on your memory and the overall health of your brain.
Here are some of our other favorite ideas for preserving and sharing your family story:
Begin a family newsletter or a family blog so that you can stay better connected with family members near and far.
Start a scrapbook or photo album about your family.
Put together a family cookbook.
Research your family history (there are a myriad of free and paid online genealogy resources).
Keep a journal and encourage your family members to do the same!
Organize a family reunion.
Challenge your brain by playing Fit Brains so that you can stimulate your memory and share your story!
Take some time this month to connect with family members, reflect on your story, and take some steps to focus on your brain health, especially focusing on training your brain for a stronger memory.
It’s National Family Stories Month. What are your favorite ways to preserve and share your family’s story? Share with us and other readers in the comments section!
Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips. And, you can always challenge your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games!