Life Begins At » Day 3 Women’s Health Week – Mind Your Mind
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Day 3 Women’s Health Week – Mind Your Mind

The message for Women’s Health Week on Day Three is to Mind Your Mind – learn more about looking after your mind and brain and the link between a healthy mind and a healthy body.

Mind your mind’ is about looking after your mind and your brain. The mind is the mental and the brain is the physical. The mind is the mental processing of thoughts and feelings to help with understanding, remembering and mood. The brain is made up of nerve cells, blood vessels and chemicals and coordinates movement, thinking and feeling.

The brain and the mind work together. Take the example of seeing a spider on the wall – both your brain and mind kick into action. If you are frightened of spiders, areas of the brain responsible for fear light up, chemicals released begin a fear response – racing heart, sweating and your breathing increases as you start to back away because your mind has processed the scene and told you “spiders are dangerous, remember the last time you saw that documentary about redback spiders”. Alternatively, if you love spiders, chemicals in the brain make you feel joy at seeing the spider and your mind tells you “spiders are amazing, so beautiful and clever; remember the pet spider you had when you were young”.

Why is it important to keep the mind healthy?

Brain and mental health are vital to our survival, but importantly they also play a big role in maintaining confidence including:

MOOD

The wrong foods, not enough food or water, too little sleep and not being active can all affect mood making you depressed, sad, anxious, prone to stress and mood swings. Not only are your energy levels likely to fall, but it is harder to think positively and you start to see the things that go wrong instead of thinking about the things that are going well.

CONCENTRATION

Often, as the day goes on, thinking becomes a little foggy and it is harder to make decisions or your mind starts to wander when you haven’t eaten healthily, drunk enough water and got out of your chair for a little walk or exercise. Too much stress can also affect your ability to concentrate and may reduce your confidence to make good decisions.

MEMORY

Studies show that to help prevent memory loss and dementia, a healthy brain needs good nutrition, exercise and mental challenges.

To give yourself the best chance of a healthy mind and brain

FEED YOUR MIND AND BRAIN:

  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast
  • For good concentration throughout the day, drink water and eat regular meals and snacks
  • Foods containing omega-3s are important for healthy brain function, e.g. fish, canola oil and flaxseeds/linseeds
  • Reduce saturated fats such as those in fried food, cakes, pastries and biscuits as these can increase cholesterol, which has been linked to increased risk of dementia over time – have polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead, such as olive oil, canola oil, fish, almonds and avocados
  • Enjoy a few cups of tea – L-theanine in tea promotes mental relaxation and attention
  • Include super foods such as blueberries, citrus fruit, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, avocado, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds/linseeds, soy and salmon– these food have high levels of good nutrients and antioxidants

ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR MIND AND BRAIN:

  • Physical activity of some kind on most days of the week helps to:Have a proper lunch break away from your desk – a healthy lunch and some physical activity can keep your mind focused in the afternoon
    • increase blood flow and the feel good hormones such as endorphins to the brain
    • reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
    • prevent weight gain, maintain weight, lose weight
    • balance out mood swings

    With all these benefits, some activity such as brisk walking if you can manage it, is a great way to protect and improve thinking, mood and memory.

  • Build new brain cells by challenging your mind and brain; this might be doing puzzles, reading, learning something new, taking a course– studies show that when you try new things and do lots of activities involving thinking you lower the risk of memory problems
  • Connect with others – being social and mixing with others helps to decrease depression and low mood, and has also been found to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, which can directly affect the brain (diseases of the veins such as stroke and heart)

To see more information on Mind your Mind, including a video by Jean Hailes naturopath Sandra Villella talking about foods that are great for the brain and cognitive functioning, go to http://www.womenshealthweek.com.au/day-3

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