Optimize the Power of Your Brain

The human brain truly is the most amazing piece of work. Containing more than one billion nerve cells, it has more cells than there are stars in the universe. When your brain is functioning properly, it can achieve miracles. When you’re not taking care of your brain properly, it means mood instability, lack of clarity and a host of psychiatric disorders.

So what can you do to keep your mind happy and healthy? Well, there are a few life style changes that make all the difference when it comes to making your brain happy. While some of these changes are relatively simple, other strategies will take a bit of work. Optimizing your brain potential results in better clarity, concentration, mood stability and happiness.

Food and Nutrition
It’s easy to incorporate certain foods into your diet that optimize your brain’s potential. Foods like lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids are perfect. Here are some ideas of foods that help your brain.


  • chicken
  • large, freshwater fish
  • walnuts
  • brazil nuts
  • olive oil
  • canola oil


If you eat a lot of simple sugars and processed carbohydrates, you’re likely to experience lower brain performance, mood instability, feel sluggish and your brain will feel murky. Diet really is very important to your brain functioning! It’s important to eat a healthy breakfast. Stay away from pancakes, waffles, Pop Tarts, etc. Instead, eat lean proteins such as eggs and dairy products like yogurt, milk or cheese. For lunch, stay away from simple sugars and carbohydrates.

Drink Plenty of Water
Also, you need to drink at least eight to ten glasses of water a day. This hydrates the brain, which is constructed from a high concentration of water.

Learn, Everyday!
The brain can be likened to a muscle—with everyday use, the brain grows stronger and with neglect, the brain atrophies. How do you exercise the brain? Learn! Everyday! See each day as an opportunity for growth and see your life as stretching in many directions.

One of the amazing things about the brain is its plasticity. That means that it can change for the good or for the bad. Learning forms and strengthens connections between synapses. It also enhances the blood flow and general activity of your brain. In other words, it increases your brain density! It even increases brain weight! If you go for long periods of time without brain practice, those connections start to weaken. It doesn’t really matter too much what you’re learning, as long as it’s challenging and the subject engages you.

Protect Your Head
Whenever participating in any kind of activity that could possibly cause trauma to the head, such as biking, skateboarding, or working in construction, protect your head! Also remember that once a helmet has been dropped or been in an accident, it no longer works. You need to find a brand new helmet.

Also, be aware that any time you hit your head (even if it’s a slight bump), it’s damaging to your brain. Even though your skull is very strong, remember that your brain is vulnerable. There are also several bony ridges inside the skull that make the brain sensitive. The areas that are most vulnerable control the areas of mood stability, memory and learning.

Never underestimate concussions; visit a specialist.

Don’t Stress Out
Stress has very negative effects on your brain potential! Research has shown that stress releases a hormone, cortisol, that is toxic to areas of your brain. Specifically, the memory area of your brain is hurt by stress. This is particularly important for many students who stress out around exam time as they’re cramming for tests. Another recent study was announced in October, 2004 and stated that stress actually impairs cell communication, damaging the dendrites that relay messages between brain cells.

Stress understandably happens. But there are coping strategies you can practice when you experience stressful situations that can alleviate your stress. One very helpful technique is to practice diaphragmatic breathing, or breathing with your diaphragm. You breathe between 14,000 and 25,000 times a day, and each time you breathe you take in about 20 milliliters of invigorating oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

Diaphragmatic breathing. Here’s how it works. Start by relaxing your abdomen, even practice pushing it out. Now, when you inhale, let the breath push out your tummy. If you’re having problems finding the right breathing sensation, try lying on your back with a book on your tummy—the book should rise as you inhale and fall as you breathe out. Take a few minutes everyday to practice this breathing, whether it be at breakfast, on the bus to work, or as you read a goodnight story to your children.

You’ve heard it once, you’ll hear it repeatedly—eight hours of sleep is key to your optimal functioning. Lots of research points to the importance of sleep. For example, people who continuously sleep less than 7 hours a night have less overall brain activity. Less sleep also means poorer brain function, such as lower concentration and memory.

Don’t Engage in Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)
What you think changes your brain. That’s because by engaging in certain thinking patterns, you strengthen the connection of the neurons involved. The stronger these neurons, the easier it is for those thoughts to pop in your head. So stop thinking so many negative thoughts! Not only are they bad for you, they’re bad for your brain! Here are some examples of automatic negative thoughts, or ANTS:

1. bad fortune telling: fortune telling is when individuals predict a negative outcome to a situation before it even occurs; this is bad because according to the self-fulfilling prophecy, whatever you think will happen is more likely to occur!

2. mind reading: stop assuming that you magically know what people are thinking about you, because usually you assume the worst; a frowning look toward you may be nothing more than the other person having a bad day.

3. ‘always’ or ‘never’ thinking: when you constantly think in extreme, absolute terms, you limit yourself; for example, ‘I’m never going to make it in this company’ or ‘I always use the wrong colors in my paintings’!

Be Optimistic
Basically, it boils down to a need for being optimistic about life. Stop those pessimistic ways and look at the brighter goals in your future. If you see only doom in the future, then it’s time to set some goals for your relationships, career and family.

A study performed at Harvard showed that 3% of participants who wrote down their short and long term goals four times a year were happier and more successful than the other 97% combined! So set goals and work on achieving them, learning and drinking lots of water along the way!

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