Have you ever stopped to think how the information you absorb all day long influences you? How does following the news, reading books, listening to podcasts, browsing the net and playing video games make you feel? And how does this mental input impact your thought patterns, brain chemistry and following physiological reactions?
In the previous post, we talked about the importance of minding your mental diet. We also covered 5 essential questions to ask yourself about how much and which kind of input you want to consume. Now it’s time for the next step: how can you crowd out the ‘mental junk food’ and add more ‘virtual vitamins’ to your mental diet?
Have a look at these 28 tips to nourish your mind in a healthy way.
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
— Chinese proverb
In recent years, we’ve learned to be selective about what we put into our bodies. After all, “we are what we eat”, and the food we consume forms the building blocks of our bodies and health. But how many of us ever stop to think about what we put into our minds every day?
Like the Chinese proverb above explains, we are shaped by our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. When you’re scared, angry, excited or in love, those thoughts and emotions trigger the release of specific neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers tell your body how to respond to the situation at hand – freeze, fight, flight, make love.
Much of the time, your thoughts cause temporary physiological changes, like that rush of dopamine you feel when you score a goal. But when something becomes a mental habit – like constant worrying or practicing gratitude every day – the patterns of neural activity sculpt your brain in more permanent ways. Busy regions in your brain will form new connections, which makes those neurological pathways stronger and more receptive to that specific mix of neurochemicals.
What’s more, what you repeatedly think shapes your deepest beliefs about yourself and the world. Your beliefs steer your actions, and regular actions become the habits that mold your daily life and (in part) your health.
That’s why a thought isn’t just a thought – it has the power to transform your life.
But your thoughts usually don’t appear out of nowhere. They don’t exist in a vacuum either. Your ideas, intentions, opinions, feelings and worries are sparked by the available input around you. The magazines you’re reading, the articles you’re browsing online and the TV shows you watch every week – they all have an impact on your thought patterns, mood, brain chemistry and corresponding physiological reactions.
And now that we’re bombarded with more information than ever before in history, it’s become even more important to mind your mental diet. But in a world filled with both chocolate bars and brain candy, what does a healthy mental diet look like? How can you nourish your mind with ‘nutrient-rich input’ and consume less ‘empty mental calories’?
The digestive tract. One of the body’s most mysterious organs. Other than its enormous length and the fact that it is embedded in a much smaller body, science tells us that within the digestive tract lives over a trillion microorganisms. Over four thousand different species of microbes happen to inhabit the gastrointestinal tract; each with its unique, specialized role in the digestive process.
From metabolizing basic nutrients to harmful substances gut bacteria, also known as gut flora, prove to be of a high value to our bodies. Those tiny, noodle-shaped, blobs affect several aspects of the body. They control weight levels in the body, they are responsible for our intestinal health as a good balance between the bacteria prevents diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and most surprisingly, they also have an impact on mental health; at least the physical part of it.
Some bacteria are capable of producing different types of neurotransmitters which transfer messages from the nerves to the brain. Now, guess what happens to be one of those neurotransmitters. That’s right, serotonin, a powerful antidepressant neurotransmitter. In fact, several researchers have proven that most people with mental disorders had a species of gut bacteria that differed from those possessed by relatively healthier people.
Above, we mentioned that there is a balance of gut flora that needs to be kept at a certain level. There are several ways to do that in order to keep your gut flora diverse, healthy and working at full capacity. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, they are living organisms and they benefit from us the same way we benefit from them.
There are two parts when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria; same with everything, there are things that you should do and things you should avoid like crappy movie sequels.
Most people consider that it is really expensive to lead a healthy lifestyle. You can also think that lifestyle changes, like opting for living a healthier life and eating healthier food, hit your wallet pretty hard and such changes won’t fit in your budget.
But is a healthy lifestyle as pricy as you might think? Lucky for you, there are many ways of making nutrition and fitness more affordable today. If you really want to jumpstart a healthy change in your life, here are ten useful tips that help you start and maintain living a healthier lifestyle on a budget.
It’s hard to have missed the world’s fascination with the Scandinavian lifestyle. Once mostly known for ABBA and IKEA, Northern Europe is now acclaimed for their effortless cool style, minimalist design and thrilling crime dramas like The Killing and The Bridge. Not to mention that Scandinavian countries rank pretty much every list, from happiest country in the world and best health care and education systems to gender equality.
So what can we learn from our friends in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland? Have a look at these 8 Scandinavian healthy habits we should steal from our Nordic neighbours.
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