No matter your age or stage of life, we’re willing to bet that you’d love to feel more energetic, both mentally and physically, throughout the day. A boost of brain energy can help you power through challenging workdays, an extra-long chore list, extensive travel itineraries, fun outdoor adventures and more. And luckily, it’s easier than you think. Here are six simple and effective ways to energize your mind every day.
1. Stock Up on Brain Food
Certain nutrients play key roles in protecting the brain over time and providing it with the energy that it needs to function optimally on a daily basis. The best part? You can source all of these nutrients from your diet if you know where to look.
Some of the best foods for energy that also happen to be amazing brain food include:
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens and broccoli—loaded with vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta carotene, these foods can help slow age-related cognitive decline, according to research.1
- Fatty fish like salmon, cod and canned light tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that play a major role in maintaining the health of brain cells and stimulating the growth of new ones.2Flaxseeds, avocados and walnuts are also excellent sources of omega 3-fatty acids for people adhering to a plant-based diet or wanting to diversify their omega-3 sources.
- Berries like blueberries and strawberries. Research suggests that the flavonoids within these fruits—the plant pigments that give berries their bright color—can help improve memory and delay age-related cognitive decline.3
- Coffee, thanks to its caffeine and antioxidant content. Caffeine helps keep your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you feel sleepy.4 It can also boost serotonin transmitters, improving your mood in the process.5 And it’s believed that coffee’s antioxidants help protect neurological health as well.6
2. Get Your Body Moving
One of the most effective ways to shake off a serious bout out drowsiness and boost your brainpower is to get your blood pumping. Exercise positively impacts the brain when it comes to protecting memory and thinking skills.
Researchers have found that aerobic exercise specifically can increase both your brain’s working memory and the blood supply that goes to the prefrontal cortex.7 Exercise can also assist in growing new brain cells, which is key to mental energy.8 So if brain fog is dragging you down, start taking a brisk walk outside each day and see if you notice a change.
Looking for ways to sneak more activity into your days? Read Move More: How to Move More Each Day for some helpful tips.
3. Load up on Healthy Herbs
Similar to the realm of whole food nutrition, there are a handful of herbs out there that are especially helpful when it comes to boosting brain energy. Some of the best herbs for brain energy include:
- Ginkgo biloba: the antioxidant-rich Ginkgo leaf and its accompanying seeds are popular in traditional Chinese medicine due to their antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that one of the biggest health benefits of Ginkgo biloba is that it can improve blood flow to the brain.9
- Bacopa monnieri: this herb is a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and known for its potential to help improve memory. Research shows that bacopa monnieri benefits include a brain function boost when it comes to attention span and the ability to process information.10
- Whole coffee fruit extract: it isn’t just coffee beans that pack a nutritional and energetic punch for your brain. Coffee fruit, which wraps around coffee beans to protect them as they grow, is considered a nootropic, a brain-enhancing compound that can help you learn faster and support healthy aging of brain cells.11
Want the mental energy benefits of all three of these brain-boosting herbs in a single capsule? Try Swanson’s Pure Brainpower, designed to support cognitive function, memory and overall brain health by supporting key neurotransmitters and blood flow.
4. Give Meditation a Try
Over the past few years, meditation has become one of the most popular safeguards against burnout. Practitioners and researchers alike suggest that taking time each day to sit in a quiet, peaceful place and focus on breathing deeply and letting your thoughts come and go acts as a cleansing reset for the brain. In fact, one 2017 study found that a consistent practice of 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily can significantly improve both brain function and energy levels.12
Even better, meditation doesn’t require any equipment or special skills. Anyone who is interested in exploring the practice can start by simply relaxing in a private space, taking measured breaths and observing where their thoughts go.
5. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes the easiest way to boost your brain energy is to reach for another glass of water. The brain relies on proper hydration to function optimally—the various cells in the brain require a careful balance of water and other elements like sodium, potassium and calcium to operate.13
So when you’re dealing with dehydration, your brain is also struggling to work efficiently, leading to an overall decrease in mental energy. Keep a reusable water bottle by your side at all times to avoid unwanted lags, and add some electrolytes to the mix—especially after exercising to replenish what your body has lost and give your brain an extra boost.
Bored with plain water? Try infusions. Check out Water for the Win: Benefits of Water, Plus 5 Water Infusions to Try for some easy recipes.
6. Check in on Your Sleep Habits
Of course, sleep plays a critical role in providing your mind with the energy it needs when you’re awake, but there are several components to healthy sleep hygiene that people often miss.
First things first, it’s important to remain consistent with your sleep time and wake time each day to keep your circadian rhythm in sync.14 Next, skip that snooze button and listen to your alarm clock the first time it chimes to avoid extra mental grogginess in the morning.
If you’re a caffeine consumer, sip your coffee or tea before lunchtime so your body has enough time to process the stimulant before the evening rolls around. And give yourself a solid window of downtime each night to focus on your pre-bedtime rituals. Turn off glowing TV and phone screens, read a soothing book by soft yellow lamp light, and maybe even rub an essential oil aromatherapy blend on your pulse points to promote relaxation.
By giving yourself the gift of a solid night’s sleep every night, you increase your chances of feeling full of mental energy during the day. Talk about a win-win.
If you found this article to be helpful, you might also enjoy 5 Ways to Detox Your Mind and Body and 18 Science-Backed Superfoods for a Healthier You. Also, be sure to sign up for Swanson Health Emails to get expert wellness advice and our best promotions delivered straight to your inbox.
1 Morris MC, et. al. Neurology. 2017 Dec 20. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29263222
2 Do omega-3s protect your thinking skills? Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/do-omega-3s-protect-your-thinking-skills
3 Krikorian R, et. al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2011 April 14. doi: 10.1021/jf9029332. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850944/
4 Ribeiro JA, et al. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2010. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-1379. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20164566
5 The Effects of Caffeine on the Brain. Verywell. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-effects-of-caffeine-on-the-brain-21842
6 Nehlig A. Practical Neurology. 2015 Dec 16. doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2015-001162. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26677204
7 Li L, et. al. PLOS One. 2014 June 9. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099222. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050105/
8 Kodali M, et. al. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2016 Aug 3. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0766-16.2016. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/36/31/8112.abstract
9 The Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba. Verywell. https://www.verywellmind.com/ginkgo-what-should-you-know-about-it-88329
10 Russo A, et al. Phytomedicine. 2005 April. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2003.12.008. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15898709
11 Reyes-Izquierdo T, et al. British Journal of Nutrition. 2013 Aug 28. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512005338. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23312069
12 Luu K, et al. Mindfulness. 2017 Aug. doi: 10.1007/s12671-016-0661-2. Springer. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12671-016-0661-2
13 Why Your Brain Needs Water. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/you-illuminated/201010/why-your-brain-needs-water
14 Circadian Rhythms. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
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