9 little things to do every day to keep your brain healthy and sharp

You’re committed to being your best, smartest self, and of course a big part of that is keeping your brain healthy and sharp.

You know this can only be done through habits you incorporate into your daily life.

But what are they exactly?

I went on a quest to put together a list of the simplest daily habits that would get you smashing results for your brain.

Here are the top 9 things you can start to incorporate in your life today. 

1) Get moving

Alright, I’ve got some sad news for all the couch potatoes out there.

If you want to keep your brain healthy and sharp, doing regular exercise is crucial.

This produces a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Your brain needs this to build new connections, which is how you learn.

But the good thing is, you don’t need to kill yourself at the gym to get these benefits.  

Any kind of movement — even walking just 2 minutes per day – helps keep your body and brain in better shape. 

But of course, more exercise is better! And it’s completely worth it. Older adults who are more active have healthier brains overall and a lower risk of dementia

Choose a form of exercise that you can have fun with, so you can stick with it regularly. As I mentioned in the title, you need to do these tips daily (or often) for them to have an effect!

2) Stay hydrated

This next tip is much easier to do than the first — but most of us still forget to do it.

It’s drinking at least the recommended 4-6 cups of water per day.

Why is this important for your brain? Well, you may have already heard that the human body is made of 60-80% water.

But in particular, the brain is made of 73% water. That’s almost three quarters water!

When I heard this, I had a frightening image of my brain drying up like Spongebob Squarepants on the beach and immediately reached for my water bottle. 

Don’t worry, you won’t suffer any serious damage unless you are really severely dehydrated.

But, drinking enough water still has a massive boost for your mood and your mental performance. 

3) Eat a balanced diet

Your doctor would absolutely love this tip — but I promise this post isn’t sponsored by them!

The fact is, there’s a reason why everyone keeps talking about eating healthy. And keeping a healthy brain is one of them

Practically any natural food — meaning, anything that isn’t processed — is good for your brain.

But there are some foods that are particularly nourishing:

  • Fish rich in Omega-3
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Eggs
  • Turmeric
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts, such as walnuts
  • Berries like blueberries and cranberries
  • Oranges
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green, oolong, or black tea
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol in low levels

Bookmark this page and keep it handy for when you go grocery shopping or choose your next takeout meal — might as well make it something that can sharpen up your brain!

4) Listen to music

Aah, this is one of my favorite tips on this list!

You’ll be glad to know that even something as easy and pleasant as listening to music can also keep your brain healthy and sharp

In fact, is has an impressive list of benefits:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces pain perception
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Lifts your mood
  • Boosts mental alertness
  • Improves memory 

Now you have a great excuse to zone out to your favorite tracks. 

But it’s also a good idea to change it up a little, and try hitting the shuffle button or checking out the “recommended for you” songs. Researchers say that new music challenges the brain in a way old hits don’t. 

5) Practice gratitude

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! 

This was me putting into practice our fifth little thing to do every day for a healthy brain.

You have surely heard of the benefits of gratitude by now — there’s hardly a blog or influencer out there who hasn’t mentioned them.

But well, this isn’t just a buzzword. If you take this practice seriously, it really does have mind-blowing benefits for the mind and body.

One author even describes it like a “big reset button”, helping you radically reduce your stress levels. 

So how exactly do you practice gratitude to improve your brain?

There is no right or wrong, as long as you truly feel gratitude in your heart. But here are some practical steps you can follow:

  • Start each morning by writing down as many things as you can that you’re grateful for in the span of 1 minute
  • End each day by writing down 3 things you’re grateful for from the day
  • Pick 1 thing you’re grateful for and visualize it for 1 minute, focusing on your feelings of gratitude
  • Tell your partner or a friend what you appreciate about them
  • Text, email, or even write a letter to someone to tell them what you appreciate about them

6) Catch some Zs

Like drinking enough water, getting enough sleep is something surprisingly few people manage to do. Especially given how pleasant it really is!

I know that for the longest time, I personally found sleep to be a waste of time. I mean, that’s 8 hours per day when I can’t work on my goals or do anything meaningful!

Oh, that’s right — except let my brain regenerate so it can function properly

When I realized how much sleep affects my brain, I began really making sure I keep a regular bedtime and get quality rest.

You’ve probably experienced first hand how even 1 night of no or little sleep slows down your thinking

And if you make a habit of this, it gets much worse — increasing the risk of cognitive damage and dementia

So, you know what you need to do! Grab a comfy pillow and get-a-napping!

7) Socialize

Did you know socializing with others also helps you keep your brain healthy and sharp?

It’s true — chatting with your buddies has amazing benefits for your brain.

Even basic interactions stimulate your brain, as you organize your thoughts into coherent messages. 

In fact, some studies suggest that an active social life helps to keep dementia at bay

This is truly great news for you if you’re hyper-focused on personal development like me, because it gives us a great reason to relax and focus on other people for a while.

You no longer have to feel jittery while chatting with people next to the water cooler, or making small talk with the person in line behind you at the supermarket.

Because the truth is, they’re helping keep your brain healthy — and you theirs as well!

8) Play a game

Yes, working on your personal development and brain can be fun too!

I mean, I’m sure you already find it fulfilling and satisfying. But, it can literally mean playing a game.

In particular, puzzle and number games are great for sharpening your mind. These include jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and number games like Sudoku.

If that’s not your vibe, try pulling out a board game or card game next time you have a get together with your friends. 

And if you’re more of a digital gamer, try downloading a brain training app. There are tons of options out there, but if you’re serious about keeping your brain healthy, then do a bit of research — lots of commercial “brain games” are not actually very effective.

To work, apps need to train your problem solving and reasoning. For example, researchers developed these few games specifically to train your brain:

Did none of those options speak to you? Last but definitely not least, video games can do the trick too.  

9) Read more Hack Spirit articles

This last tip is something you’re actually already doing at this very moment: reading!

You won’t be surprised to hear that reading is excellent for your brain. 

It helps protect your memory and thinking skills, especially as you age.  

And the best news is, you’re already in the perfect place to put this habit into practice. Hack Spirit is brimming full of articles just like this one that can help you up-level your life, and keep your brain healthy and sharp at the same time.

Here are some recommendations for what you can read next, to put this straight into action:

Say hello to a healthy and sharp brain

Now you’re armed with 9 little things you can do every day to keep your brain healthy and sharp. 

Of course, our brains are amazingly complex — and there are many (many!) more things you can do to keep them healthy.

However, if you master these 9 daily habits, you’re off to a truly fantastic start — and your brain is sure to thank you for it. 

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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