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10 Steps Towards a Healthier, Happier Brain in the New Year

The new year always inspires new resolutions and goals (or sometimes, the same ones that we didn’t quite accomplish!) Here are some ideas for taking control of your health in this new year. See how many you can implement and take note of the impact. Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t.

  1. Take pleasure in simple things. Every now and then, stop sprinting to the finish line and pause to take in what is around you right now. Use a beautiful landscape or building to help you meditate and find calm, before you race ahead again. A break can give you the strength and energy to keep going.
  2. Set realistic goals. One of our biggest stressors in life is setting up unrealistic expectations that we then get anxious about and fail to meet. When you set goals that you can reach, even if they are small, you can create a sense of achievement and success that builds on itself, giving you what you need to tackle your bigger goals.
  3. Re-interpret Your Situation. Many times, the physiological response of a good event and a bad event are the same – they just have a different perception. Knowing that can help you take control of the things you can, which helps to keep your stress level low.
  4. Nurture your dreams. Create a rich, visual image of your dream. The creative act alone will exercise broad areas of your brain. Imagine it as rich visually, physically, and sensorially as possible so it creates a vivid memory that sticks with you over time. When you wander off course personally, being able to recall that rich picture will help clarify your priorities and pull you back on track.
  5. Get comfortable with no. It’s great that you want to help everyone else, but you’re only one person. Believe it or not, you can’t do it all. When you’ve got too much on your plate, express your wish to help and be as supportive as possible, but respect your time and energy.
  6. Find your strengths. Sure we all need to improve our weaknesses, but understand your greatness as well. Knowing your strengths gives you a perspective that will help you understand your reactions, and knowledge is power over stress.
  7. Cultivate your social network. Family and friends can be stressful, but more often than not, they are wonderful support when you need someone on your side. That doesn’t mean they will always tell you what you want to hear, but usually they will go to bat for you and be there if you need an ear, a shoulder, or just a good laugh.
  8. Commit to your Physical Health, for the Sake of your Mental Health. The body and mind are intertwined and rely on each other. Commit to sleeping, exercising, and eating at least reasonably well. Little steps towards taking care of your physical body can change your mental perspective and lower stress dramatically.
  9. Learn to Communicate Effectively. It will help you build your social network, clarify your goals, and nurture your dreams.
  10. Plan for Your Future. Financial issues can be some of the biggest stressors of all. View it as a chance to exercise your brain and learn something new. By learning more and building a plan for the future, you will again reinforce your sense of control over where you are headed. While money can’t buy you love, it can buy you a little negotiating room in your life by giving you options (if you can build up some savings, you don’t have to feel stuck where you are in your career, geography, or intellectual life).

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  1. Damien Riley says:

    I love the “nurture your dreams” one. So true.

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