This post is sponsored by Nature’s Way.
I’m convinced that 7 years ago, I birthed my brain. A beautiful, perfect little human came out, and somewhere with all of the stuff was also my mind. Since I had Liv – maybe it also has to do with 7 years of sleep deprivation – mental fog kind of set in. I find myself searching for words I’m sure I know, forgetting important dates, and just being… uhh not so smart haha.
Despite birthing my brain, I’ve still functioned like a semi-normal human: I can complete all of my mom, blog and work tasks, remember important school dates and events for the girls, pay bills, exist like I did. But I’ve noticed that if I don’t do a few key things, I certainly don’t feel as sharp. I’ll be talking to you and mid-sentence I’ll have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, or you might just see me in a blank stare, trying to remember something. It’s all very normal.
Here are some of the things that I think make a huge difference:
READ. I feel so much sharper when I’m reading something. It forces me to truly focus on one thing, read words that I haven’t heard on Baby Shark on Netflix (why are they so obsessed with that song?!), and use my imagination to visualize another world. When I’m reading something, I’m also a better writer. Words come easier to me, and I’m more able to clearly articulate what I’m thinking. Even if I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll spend at least 15-20 minutes before bed reading a book.
Sleep. This can be a hard one because kids, but when I get a good nights’ sleep, I’m alert the next day. I try to cultivate a smart sleep situation to the best of my ability, especially by cooling down the room, avoiding screens before bed, and wearing an eye mask. I’ve noticed that if I hit the snooze button, I feel terrible. So, I wake up, splash water on my face, and start the day.
Meditate. This is such a valuable resource for a clear mindset. It can be easy to be intimidated by meditation, but it’s simpler and more flexible than many expect. When you’re meditating, you’re not trying to avoid thinking. It’s kind of impossible! Instead you’re acknowledging your thoughts, letting them go, and bringing the focus back to your breath. My tips for starting a meditation practice are here.
Do something new or challenging. This is a HUGE one. It’s easy for us to kick into cruise control with our routines, but we’re not providing any new stressors or challenges. In order to keep your brain functioning at full capacity, it’s important to use different paths to solving problems. Try a new fitness class, take a dance class, try to learn a new language or instrument, use your mind in a different way. Learning dance choreography is a GREAT way to challenge your brain and ballroom dancing is one of the hobbies that can reduce dementia risk. Dancing involves many brain functions at the same time.
Try out supplements if they work for you. I’m so excited to be partnering with Nature’s Way this year, as they’re one of my favorite supplement brands. They sent me some of their products to promote cognitive function and two of them are ones I’ve regularly been taking.
Valerian: I started taking valerian about 9 years ago when I told my naturopath that I wasn’t sleeping well. He gave me valerian and I had the most pleasant, restful sleep that I’ve had in a long time. I like valerian because it’s completely natural and not addictive. I had to stop taking it when I was pregnant with Liv – the midwife said it can make the babies a bit sleepy – and I didn’t experience any withdrawals or weird effects from ceasing the supplement.
Reishi: supports immune function. I’ve been taking reishi and reishi-based products for the past couple of years for their calming effects. I’ve noticed that it’s helped dramatically with my anxiety and gives me a clear focused energy.
They also sent a new supplement that I’m excited to try this week: Ginkgold Max. This is purely to increase mental sharpness, so if you see a surge in my blog productivity, you know what happened. It can help to support memory, concentration and mental activity. It also supports circulation to the brain and extremities, while protecting the body from free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. Yes, to all of these things.It’s worth noting that you should always check with a doc before taking any new supplements. <3
What are some of the things you do to challenge your brain? Have you started any new hobbies or classes lately?