When we think about being healthier, we often focus on our diet and exercise. To be truly healthy, we need to look after our mind too. The Six Dimensions of Wellness is a tool to help us to achieve a healthy balanced life.
In this blog we are looking at Intellectual Wellness, or how creative and stimulating mental activities can help you think faster, increase your cognitive capacity and improve your overall health and happiness.
Why do we need to look after our brains?
Your brain controls you. Spending some time concentrating on how you can help your brain will help your overall wellbeing.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, being intellectually well and engaging in stimulating activities may also reduce cognitive impairment and reduce your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.
An ‘intellectually well’ person is someone who is open to new ideas, meeting new people and hearing new perspectives. They think critically and are keen to learn new skills. They spend time discovering more about themselves and their potential, and share their knowledge and skills with others.
10 ways to develop your intellectual wellness
- Spend time reading books, magazines and newspapers – it doesn’t matter what you read, if it stimulates your mind and generates interest or allows you to learn something new or find out something interesting, it all benefits your mind.
- Try something new – your brain continues to grow throughout your life. Stimulation, stress and experiences can help it to change and adapt. Try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – have a go at a new sport, learn a foreign language or a musical instrument, for example.
- Get moving – as well as being good for your heart and body, exercise improves your brain too. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. This kind of exercise also releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which helps new connections develop within your brain.
- Be social – when we are being around other people and hear different ideas and perspectives we learn and grow. Spend time with friends, family and colleagues. Try meeting and mixing with new people by joining a club, a class or a sports team.
- Eat well – Did you know, your brain consumes about 20% of your daily calories so feed your brain as well as your body. Include foods that are good for brain health regularly in your diet such as blueberries (antioxidants), green leafy vegetables (vitamin K and beta carotene), pumpkin seeds (magnesium and zinc), nuts (healthy fats and compounds).
- Get creative – drawing, doodling, painting, playing a musical instrument, photography, gardening, pottery, crafting, writing…being creative stimulates your mind and can help develop problem solving skills, memory and processing speed.
- Practice puzzles – games and puzzles help to exercise your brain and improve long-term and working memory.
- Drink water – the majority of our brain is water, over 75% in fact. If you are dehydrated your brain is too, this is why you experience brain fog, loss of focus and memory as well as headaches. You may also feel tired and moody. Improve focus and clarity by drinking more water.
- Get some sleep – when we sleep our brains remove stored toxins so they are better able to function the following day. Lack of sleep impairs reasoning, problem-solving and attention to detail. Aim to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Meditate and reflect – take a step back and think about your actions and motives, reflect on your life, behaviour and beliefs. Self-reflection improves self-awareness, provides perspective and can improve confidence. Meditation also allows you to calm your thoughts and achieve greater mental and emotional clarity.