Achieving maximum brain health is possible if you learn to keep three important parts of your life is balance: mind, body, & spirit. If one of these is not in balance the other two cannot function correctly. If you suffer a physical injury or loss this can lead to depression which affects the body as well as the mind. Physical exercise, for example, is well known to help elevate one’s mood, decrease anxiety, as well as accelerate creation of new brain cells. Healthy nutrition is also key to maintaining emotional health as well as physical health. Some of the latest research on how to maintain or improve cognitive skills (e.g. memory, attention, executive function) in persons with mild cognitive impairment suggests that specially designed physical movements are more effective than more cerebral activities directed at memory or attention.

Yet in turn, if you’re experiencing high stress and are not trying to find ways to relieve that stress, chronic stress can cause your body to malfunction and makes you more vulnerable to a range of health conditions and illnesses including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The third area of human life is spirit. Having a healthy spiritual life doesn’t always have to be related to religion, though many people find great benefit from being part of a community of people committed to improving their spiritual life, learning, and looking out for each other. There are many spiritual practices common to multiple religions that have been scientifically proven to improve emotional and physical health. These spiritual practices can be practiced in isolation, but often are enhanced or improved when shared or practiced in community, or by their very nature are relationship based, i.e. social. Among these is the practice of loving kindness, unconditional love, and the practice of forgiveness.

Meditation is another way to balance the spirit as well as the soul, that has now been scientifically proven to decrease stress, improve physical health, and most recently, enlarge the size of the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus.

Chinese medicine among other multi-millennial-old health care systems use as their centerpieces methods that integrate mind, body and spirit. Tai chi and Chi gong, for instance, have been scientifically shown to be exercise and meditative practices which can improve physical, emotional and cognitive health. They can be much more. When fully practiced and incorporated into daily life, including the meditative forms, Tai Chi and Chi Gong have been shown to be marvelous ways to improve mind, body AND spirit.

When these three things are in balance, mind, body and spirit, your brain will be healthier as well.

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