The Role of Mental Well-Being in Brain Health

At present, the majority of research associated with brain health happens to study the diseased brain. Little research is performed on the study of the healthy, non-diseased brain and the locations of the world that boast a lower incidence of brain disease overall.

A greater focus on maintaining a healthy brain, rather than preventing further deterioration of an already diseased brain, might be the optimal approach for mental well-being and longevity. This concept is otherwise known as life cycle brain health.

In what follows, we’ll be discussing the role that an individual’s well-being plays in brain health. More specifically, we’ll discuss how well-being contributes to productivity, mood, outlook, happiness, and even the prevention of brain-related diseases and conditions.

Mental Well-Being

Mental well-being can be defined by its primary characteristics of optimism, kindness, openness, willingness, contentment, and happiness. Contrastingly, poor mental well-being can be defined by its primary characteristics of pessimism, tiredness, depression, anger, and hatred.

While poor mental well-being is associated with poor decision-making, brain fog, and even the risk of dementia, healthy mental well-being is associated with longevity, prolonged cognitive abilities, memory, and overall brain health.

In order to improve mental well-being, several tactics can be employed. One of the most effective methods, however, seems to be a simple perceptual shift toward purpose. In fact, one study suggests that the feeling of having a life purpose may reduce overall dementia risk by 20%.

Other common and effective tactics for improving overall mental well-being are those that reduce stress, anxiety, and depression through self-acceptance and other attitude-behavioral techniques.

Tips for Optimizing Mental Well-Being

If the research suggests that mental well-being is associated with improved brain health, longevity, and disease prevention, learning practical tips, strategies, and lifestyle interventions that optimize for mental well-being is essential.

By acting on mental well-being through a healthy lens and prioritizing activities that boost mood, improve relationships, and improve mindfulness, while reducing stress and eliminating unhealthy, negative thoughts and perceptions, individuals can improve their brain health. These methods also may help prevent cognitive decline and other related conditions.

Regardless of age, each of the following tips can be implemented and acted upon to experience such benefits.

The following are several practical tips, tools, and tactics that are largely associated with lifestyle interventions that improve mental well-being and brain health.

  • Exercise Frequently

Frequent exercise has been shown to boast endless benefits, both in the interim and long term. Some of its primary benefits include its ability to reduce cognitive decline, boost mood through endorphin release, manage stress and anxiety, and improve overall physical and mental health.

To further optimize your exercise regimen and improve brain health, aim to partake in outdoor activities as much as possible. In totality, a minimum of 150 minutes weekly of physical activity is necessary. The easiest way to start implementing this activity is to create a walking template and slowly increase it to achieve the optimum exercise.

  • Eat Healthily

It’s no secret that following a healthy diet is imperative to both mental and physical health and well-being. Well, it also happens to be crucial for optimizing brain health.

Often defined as “brain food,” a healthy diet typically consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meats and fish, and avoidance of starches, trans fats, and sugars.

  • Achieve Adequate Sleep

Inclusive of having a consistent sleep/wake schedule and remaining asleep for an optimal amount of time (7-9 hours), achieving adequate sleep is essential for physical and mental well-being.

Adequate sleep also has a major carry-over effect on mood, performance, longevity, and disease prevention.

  • Socialize Regularly

While any type of socialization will suffice, seeking out meaningful connections and building lasting relationships is a surefire way to boost mental well-being and brain health.

This is particularly true for those in the aging population, with individuals over 50 demonstrating a significantly higher mental well-being score than those lacking any social substance in their lives.

  • Participate in Mood-Boosting Activities

Finding activities that you enjoy and participating in them regularly will translate to mood-boosting benefits that make you feel good and improve brain health overall.

These activities can range from hiking and walking your dog to shopping or playing in a musical group. Find what you enjoy and do more of that.

Interestingly, one activity that has shown scientific promise is participating in and enjoying music.

With several interesting findings, it’s been suggested that music can affect well-being, learning, happiness, cognitive function, and overall brain health by activating key parts of the brain and strengthening the brain’s neural connections.

Final Thoughts

As a potentially modifiable factor that individuals can prioritize and change at their discretion, several action steps are available to boost mental well-being, thus also improving brain health.

In other words, improved brain health relies on optimizing and improving one’s mental well-being.

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