How Goal Setting and New Year’s Resolutions can Support Overall Brain Health
Making New Year’s resolutions may be one of the best things you can do to support the overall health of your brain.
A healthy brain helps you realize your full potential throughout your lifetime. Your brain controls your ability to learn and understand, also known as cognition. It also manages your thinking, memories, emotions, breathing, hunger, senses, and more. Time, stress, overall health and environmental factors can negatively affect the health – and function – of your brain.
Fortunately, you can take steps to preserve and improve the health of your brain, and January 1st is a great day to start. If you are plan to improve your mental health in the upcoming year, you are not alone – in a survey released in December 2021, 26 percent of American adults surveyed said that improving their mental health was on their minds as they moved into the upcoming year.
Setting Goals is Good for Your Brain
When we accomplish goals, our brains reward us by flooding the body with dopamine, also known as the “feel good hormone” or the “happy hormone.” Dopamine is part of the brain’s reward system, which encourages our brain cells to act in a certain way by flooding them with pleasure. Dopamine motivates us and influences our behavior by giving us a treat when we accomplish something.
Achieving goals provides direct and indirect benefits for brain health
Many New Year’s resolutions provide direct benefits to brain health. Reducing stress, learning a new skill or language, and spending more time with friends and family are common resolutions, and they can all directly support the health of your brain. Stress can affect decision-making, memory and mood, so reducing stress can ease the burden on your brain.
Other resolutions promote brain health as a happy side effect. Sleeping better may be at the top of your resolution list because you wake up feeling tired every morning, for example, but getting enough high quality sleep may also put you in a better mood, improve learning, and sharpen your thinking. If you are trying to lose weight, you might have already added diet and exercise to your list of resolutions – as it turns out, good nutrition and regular exercise are also good for your brain health. In fact, mental health professionals consider quality sleep, a nutritious diet, and exercise as the three pillars of mental health.
Make the new year your best yet by improving your overall brain health through resolutions and goal-setting.
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