When thinking of wellness and self-care, many of our thoughts tend to lean toward healthy eating habits and regular exercise. But true self-care encompasses so much more. According to the Global Self-Care Federation, “[Self-care] is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.” 

In 2019, The Harris Poll conducted a brain health survey, showing that brain performance improvement was something that almost all Americans value. “The survey found that despite common depictions of self-care as indulgences such as shopping and pampering, consumers understand that self-care is a broad concept that encompasses physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.” 

However, how many of us really think of our brain when we’re incorporating self-care? Have we forgotten to nourish our brains in our self-care routines? I know I had… at first. After reading articles and learning more on the subject of brain health, I became very interested. According to the Cleveland Clinic Healthy Brains, there are six pillars of brain health which include: 

  • Physical exercise
  • Food and nutrition
  • Medical health
  • Sleep and relaxation
  • Mental fitness
  • Social interaction

Through research, I learned to think of the brain as a muscle. If you stop using it, it will deteriorate over time, just like a muscle would. Incorporating mental exercises in your self-care routine can improve the way the brain functions. For example, playing crossword puzzles or card games can stimulate the brain. There are other options such as brain games on your smartphone device or online that can help, too.

Some other options to help stimulate the brain include studying a new topic or finding something new to learn about (such as a hobby). 

Exercising the brain is like a physical exercise at the gym, you can’t expect to stay in shape if you quit. Therefore, you can’t expect your brain to stay healthy if you don’t exercise it. Incorporating mental exercises in daily life can also advance new brain cell growth, which decreases the likelihood of developing dementia. 

I have recently downloaded the Elevate and Lumosity apps, which offer free, daily brain exercises accessible through my tablet and smartphone. I have begun incorporating this into my schedule for at least five minutes a day, specifically focusing on memory games. The short amount of time this takes makes it an achievable goal for most people. Take the extra five minutes out of your day and intentionally spend it on your brain! You’ll thank yourself later.

All in all, our brain health is just as important as our physical health. With the awareness of brain health, we can make a difference in our lives and choices! Next time you’re creating a self-care routine, I hope this blog reminds you to think of your brain, too. We only get one to live with, so remember to take care of it and yourself!