5 Easy-to-Keep New Year’s Resolutions For A Mentally Healthier 2019

The state of your mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, including how you think, feel, and act. It also includes how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Mental health emerges from many factors, but none is more salient than the health of your physical brain.

When it comes to our physical health, we understand the importance of being physically fit. It is unfortunately less common knowledge that mental health has a similar equivalent: Mental fitness, or brain fitness.

Individuals with good brain fitness habits are more resilient to, and recover more quickly from, the inevitable ups and downs of life.

That’s why we’re giving you the five absolutely easiest ways to start bringing the concept of mental fitness into your self-care practices for 2019. Adopt these New Year’s resolutions and you’ll be not one but five steps closer to better brain fitness. And better brain fitness means better mental health.

Physical fitness isn’t just for people with physical illness, in fact it helps prevent it. Brain fitness is the same.

1. Eat More Chocolate

Why you should do it:

It can’t get any easier than this. But, the quality of the chocolate is key.

Chocolate is healthy because of special properties in cacao beans, like flavonoids and other antioxidants. Truly healthy chocolate is at least 70% dark — meaning cacao products without milk solids added — but the darker the better.

Eating dark chocolate gives you a mood lift by boosting endorphin production and stimulating dopamine production. It can also give you an energy boost by increasing levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Doctor’s orders.

Your specific New Year’s Resolution & How to Keep it:

While the optimal dose of daily chocolate intake is still undetermined, scientists generally advise between 2 and 9 grams. Think 1 or 2 pieces, certainly less than half-a-bar.

Buying in bulk and keeping your pantry stocked will make it easier to keep this new routine. Consume your daily dark chocolate with the same attitude and regularity you take vitamins and supplements, only with more enjoyment!

For the complete list of chocolate’s 9 brain-health-boosting benefits, plus a full guide for how to choose quality chocolate, read our full article here.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Why you should do it:

Studies show that expressing gratitude literally exercises the areas of the brain responsible for emotional control. Better emotional control means less stress, and better relationships. Conversely, the inability to control negative emotions is largely responsible for depression, anxiety, anger and hostility.

How does it work? Brain scientists have discovered that stronger feelings of gratitude map onto stronger blood flow and neuronal activation in an area of the brain called the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex. This area plays an important role in the ability to control and manage uncomfortable or painful emotions.

In short, expressing gratitude is literally brain exercise.

Expressing gratitude is literally brain exercise that boosts your mental fitness!

Your specific New Year’s Resolution & How to Keep It:

Keep a journal or notebook beside your bed. Fill one page each day with a list of things you are grateful for.

As with any other exercise, consistency is key for peak brain fitness too. Writing your gratitude list either just before going to sleep or just as you wake up will make it easier to keep as a part of your daily routine.

Remember not to judge your list. Your goal is to stimulate feelings of gratitude within yourself. If your list has the same things on it every day, that’s fine. The important thing is taking the time to think about them and write them down.

3. Take a Walk For At Least 10 Minutes Per Day

Why you should do it:

There’s no getting around this one: If you want to take care of your health — physical, mental, emotional, and otherwise — you need to exercise regularly.

But did you know that just 10 minutes of even light walking can change how certain parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with each other?

In one study, MRI scans showed that separate parts of the brain were more connected after participants had completed just 10 minutes of light exercise, like walking or cycling. Specifically, portions of hippocampus, a brain area associated most strongly with memory storage and retrieval, synchronized its activity with parts of the brain associated with learning. These MRI results supported the data showing that, post-exercise, these participants performed better on memory tests than a sedentary control-group.

There’s no getting around this one: If you want to take care of your health — physical, mental, emotional, and otherwise — you need to exercise regularly.

Your specific New Year’s Resolution & How to Keep It:

Walk for 10 minutes a day. If you need help eliminating whatever excuses you might come up with for failing to comply with this resolution year-round, here are some options:

  • Walk around the block (or three) between when you leave from your place of work and when you get into your car to drive home.
  • Do it before a meal; Don’t let yourself eat until you’ve completed your ten minute goal.
  • If it’s cold or rainy outside, go indoors. If you don’t want to join a gym, you can walk around inside a mall.

4. Start Taking Nootropics

Why you should do it:

Nootropics are any natural or synthetic substances taken as supplements to enhance cognitive performance — i.e. memory, learning, focus, creativity, and mental energy.

With this definition, we can fairly classify the above-mentioned chocolate as a nootropic, as well as coffee, Omega-3 fatty acids, and several medicinal herbs.

Synthetic nootropics have names like piracetam, aniracetam and oxiracetam. These substances were created specifically to boost cognitive performance.

Many companies combine natural and synthetic nootropics into recipes called “nootropic stacks.” Stacks are designed to combine different ingredients to maximize their benefits synergistically. They come in capsule or liquid form, and you take them once or twice daily like you would any other supplement.

Your specific New Year’s Resolution & How to Keep It:

Start a nootropic stack subscription and take as instructed, usually one to four capsules, once or twice per day.

Here are Peak Brain, our staff and clients swear by TruBrain, co-created by our own founder, cognitive neuroscientist and peak-performance coach Andrew Hill PhD. Other popular nootropic stacks are AlphaBrain and OptiMind.

Bonus tip:

If you’re someone struggling with stress or anxiety, check out L-theaninesupplements. A natural amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine promotes relaxation by stimulating the brain’s production of the neurotransmitter GABA, as well as promoting the alpha-brainwave state.

L-theanine, the longest used nootropic in this world.

5. Start a Mindfulness Practice

Why you should do it:

Mindfulness is brain-exercise. It improves your cognitive fitness, as a growing body of research continues to show.

Regular practice can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, and even improve your ability to control your attention, thoughts, actions and emotions. Even just a few minutes of mindfulness can give you a noticeable shift from anxious to calm.

Again, this is an easy resolution to keep because it’s so easy to do. Sometimes seen as a precursor to meditating, mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment, in a specific way, on purpose. It’s easy because you don’t need to be sitting in lotus-position with your eyes closed; you can be mindful just standing in line at the grocery store.

Just appreciate the beauty of this flower for 1 second. Doesn’t that feel better?

Your specific New Year’s Resolution & How to Keep It:

Commit to just 10 minutes per day practicing mindfulness this year. It’s an easy resolution to keep because mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at anytime!

Still, incorporating any new practice into your daily life is easier with the support and accountability of a community.

30-day online mindfulness challenge

For this reason, Peak Brain has created a30-day online mindfulness challenge, starting tomorrow, January 1st!

This online community practice group teaches you how to bring mindfulness into your everyday routine, so you can easily honor your resolution the whole year long.

Once per week live group mindfulness practices are held via Zoom, an online meeting platform, with peak mindfulness expert Samantha Snowden.

Members of this online community also get daily mindful challenges for 30 days, daily guided meditations, journal prompts, and text-based feedback and support.

Are you serious about committing to a mentally healthier 2019? Join the 30-day Mindfulness Challenge group today!

Free Mindfulness Classes

Peak Brain also offers 100% free mindfulness classes both online and at each of our locations, in Los Angeles and St. Louis. For more, visit our website.

Don’t just have a happy new year, have a happier new year.

For those who need more help

If you are committed to improve your brain health, but feel you need more help than can be taken from these articles, we have more for you, too.

Sometimes brainwaves, the patterns of electricity through your brain, get stuck in unhealthy rhythms. Using EEG and neurofeedback technology, we can pinpoint what’s going on and train your brain to learn — and maintain — healthier brainwave habits.

If you’re ready to learn more, we’re here.

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