The Worst Habits for Your Brain

Our habits directly relate to our brain health. Habits allow us to complete daily tasks without having to think about them too much. A study in 2020 showed that habits can be controlled right at the start when we introduce them into our lifestyle.

These are some of the worst habits for Brain Health:

1. Unhealthy sleep habits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Research has shown that adults need about 7 hours of quality sleep for optimal health. Good sleep habits include reducing bright light before bed, ensuring a balanced diet, and implementing an evening routine.

Effects of not getting enough sleep:

  • Affects memory
  • Decreases brain health
  • Harms the heart
  • Reduces ability to focus

2. Sitting too much

Despite an active lifestyle, sitting for prolonged periods of time has a negative impact on brain and metabolic health. However, most adults don’t have the time to focus on more exercise, so here are some easy habits to introduce to avoid sitting too much during the day:

  • Stand up when you call someone
  • Take the stairs
  • Walk around while brushing your teeth
  • Get up and refill your water glass
  • If sitting at a desk for work, stand up and walk around every hour
  • Dance more often

3. The wrong foods

Do you start your day with orange juice? There are about 20 grams of sugar in an average glass of OJ and research has shown that high-sugar diets can lead to a significant decrease in memory and cognitive function.

For some top tips on what foods to eat, check out our article on foods to fight fatigue.

4. Chronic stress

There is an abundance of studies that have shown the impact of stress hormones, including a decline in attention, memory, and emotion processing. The good news is that there are models that suggest developing “early stress interventions” can counteract the effects of chronic stress on brain health.

Some habits to help counteract the impact of chronic stress:

  • A diet high in antioxidants (some great sources include beets, sweet potatoes, and strawberries)
  • Daily physical exercise
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Build mental resilience (like Rewire’s Neuro-Training)

Neuro-Training works by targeting the part of the brain that is responsible for managing fatigue and willpower.

Benefits include:

  • More energy
  • Increased recovery speed
  • Improve mental resilience and athletic performance

Users of the Rewire App have reported a decrease in stress of 74.1%.

5. Negative mindset

Research has shown that negative thoughts can trigger a stress response and a prolonged negative mindset has been linked to cognitive decline. Want to implement habits to improve your brain health? Check out our article on the best habits for your brain here!

Visualization and self-talk can help us avoid dwelling on the negative and instead create a more positive habit. For example, visualization can improve athletic performance because they act as a sort of mental rehearsal, which can train the mind to act in real life as we imagine it.

Rewire’s Mindset Recovery system includes evidence-based protocols to promote mind/body recovery, improve mindset, manage stress and prepare for training and competition. This system includes tools such as visualization and self-talk. Check out an overview of Mindset Recovery here.

Are you ready to improve your brain health? Try a 7-day free trial of Rewire to give Neuro-Training and Mindset Recovery a go!


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Sources

Crego, A.C.G., Štoček, F., Marchuk, A.G., Carmichael, J.E., van der Meer, M.A.A. and Smith, K.S. (2020). Complementary Control over Habits and Behavioral Vigor by Phasic Activity in the Dorsolateral Striatum. The Journal of Neuroscience, 40(10), pp.2139–2153.‌

CDC (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/.‌

Owen, N., Healy, G.N., Matthews, C.E. and Dunstan, D.W. (2010). Too Much Sitting. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, [online] 38(3), pp.105–113. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/.‌

Magnusson, K.R., Hauck, L., Jeffrey, B.M., Elias, V., Humphrey, A., Nath, R., Perrone, A. and Bermudez, L.E. (2015). Relationships between diet-related changes in the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility. Neuroscience, [online] 300, pp.128–140. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25982560/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2021].

Lupien, S.J., Juster, R.-P., Raymond, C. and Marin, M.-F. (2018). The effects of chronic stress on the human brain: From neurotoxicity, to vulnerability, to opportunity. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 49, pp.91–105.‌‌

Marchant, N.L., Lovland, L.R., Jones, R., Pichet Binette, A., Gonneaud, J., Arenaza‐Urquijo, E.M., Chételat, G. and Villeneuve, S. (2020). Repetitive negative thinking is associated with amyloid, tau, and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s & Dementia.‌

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5 Foods to Fight Fatigue: What to Eat for Energy (Vegan Friendly!)

We have all experienced those dreaded bouts of overwhelming tiredness and fatigue. Mindfulness is important in all areas of our lives, including what we eat. To fight fatigue, it can help to be mindful of what’s on your plate. A health report at Harvard stated that what and how you eat can retain “mental sharpness”. To keep your energy up, consider eating more of the following foods:

#1 Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables that are in season are picked once they ripen naturally, so they are more likely to contain all those good nutrients. Fruits are high in natural sugars which can be absorbed by our bodies and transformed into energy. Vegetables are a fantastic source of dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate that can improve vitamin and mineral absorption in the body, which could raise your daily energy levels. Some of my favorites include dark leafy greens (like spinach and kale) and beets. Did you know you can eat both the beetroot and the leaves? They’re perfect for salads and side dishes!

#2 Bananas

One of my favorite foods and something I eat almost every day are bananas. They are high in potassium (needed to synthesize protein and metabolize carbohydrates!) and are perfect for that much needed energy boost. Bananas are also good for more than fighting fatigue. Other health benefits include increased muscle performance, lower blood pressure, and improved bone health.

#3 Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes deserve a special shout-out as a helpful food to fight fatigue because they are high in various vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and vitamins C and A. Vitamin C is required for our bodies to transport fat into the cells, where they are then burned off to provide us with energy. Vitamin A supports the immune system and is an essential vitamin for growth and development.

#4 Complex Carbohydrates

Choosing whole-grain foods and complex carbohydrates instead of processed, refined foods means that your body gets the full benefit of the added fiber and nutrients.

For example, oats are one of the best sources of slow-releasing energy because they are high in low GI complex carbohydrates. These types of carbs release energy much slower than high GI complex carbohydrates (like white bread and puffed cereals).

Another great complex carbohydrate is brown rice, one cup of which contains the daily requirement of manganese, a trace mineral that helps the body regulate energy.

#5 Nuts and Seeds

These powerhouse foods are some of the best to beat fatigue and give you that energy boost you need to get through the day. Try some brazil nuts (one brazil nut contains the daily recommendation for selenium) or pumpkin seeds (high in plant protein) for the perfect afternoon snack.

Bonus #6 Soybeans

Soybeans are high in calcium, potassium, and plant protein (over 16 grams of protein per 100 grams of soybeans!). They are a great energy-boosting addition to any meal. Soybeans are also high in magnesium (which helps increase the quality and duration of your sleep), improve blood circulation, and support heart health.

Our diet directly relates to how our bodies perform and how we feel. Fueling ourselves with the right foods can help increase our energy levels and fight off that fatigue. Support your body with those energy-boosting foods and support your mind with neuro-training on the Rewire App. Rewire’s Neuro-Training protocols are backed by over 10 years of scientific research and have been shown to create a cognitive adaptation that reduces your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) when under physical and mental load thereby increasing your capacity to perform at your best.

Sources

Harvard Health. (n.d.). A Guide to Cognitive Fitness. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/a-guide-to-cognitive-fitness.

Harvard Health Publishing (2019). Eating to boost energy – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/eating-to-boost-energy.

Porter, M.P. (n.d.). 7 Foods That Will Boost Energy Fast. [online] The Beet. Available at: https://thebeet.com/eat-these-7-healthy-foods-for-long-lasting-energy/ [Accessed 8 Apr. 2022].‌

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Best Practices to Win the Morning: 3 Steps to Master Your Morning Routine

Waking up in the morning can be tough. I get it, the bed is warm and cosy, obligations don’t exist, and everything is calm. But imagine being able to master your morning and looking forward to, rather than dreading, the sound of your alarm.

1. The Night Before

Preparing yourself the evening before sets you up to win the morning.

Some tips:

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Set an alarm (and stop hitting snooze!).
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • Write down your to-do list and prioritise.

Check out our article on how to optimise your sleep for recovery here!

2. Set the Right Intentions

The right mindset changes everything. But that’s way easier said than done, I know. I try to remind myself of my non-negotiables, those things that are so important to me that I will do them regardless of how much time I have or how tired I am, because I know that they will help me master my morning.

I always ask myself: what makes me feel confident and ready to tackle the day?

I have a few non-negotiables for my morning routine:

  • Reenergise – whether it be a gentle yoga flow or a hardcore kickboxing workout, I love getting some movement in straight away.
  • Refresh – two minutes or an hour, I like to sit still and try to relax into my body and my mind. It’s not really meditation (my overactive mind does not like the thought of that, but more of a grounding moment for myself). Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness without meditation here.
  • Refocus – for me this means a cup of tea and a cold shower. I know, I know, but the benefits are promising. Did you know that an ice-cold shower can help improve circulation and strengthen the immune system?

3. Find What Works for You

So many people say “wake up early, be productive – you’ll automatically be better off for it”! I disagree. I’m an early riser and I love having a long morning routine to center myself and dive into some deep work. However, just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. It certainly doesn’t work for my sister. She prefers an extra hour or two of sleep in the morning and starts her day with a cup of coffee and cuddles with the dogs. I say – do what works for you! It might take a little trial and error, but there is no magic morning routine – find what suits you and fits your lifestyle. Win your morning, your way.

Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to do something that brings you joy today. Whether that be your favourite cycling route or finally starting that book you’ve wanted to read for ages, go for it!

Bonus: some food for thought to help win your morning.

Today, I am most excited about __________.

I am thankful for __________.

My affirmation today is __________.

Read more about the impact of positive self-talk on your mood and performance here.

Bonus #2: add the Rewire App.

Adding the Rewire App and the readiness assessment to your morning routine can help you have the best day, every day.

Feeling drained? Primed? Baseline? – Rewire has customised training and recovery plans for every mood to help you make the most out of your day. Win your morning with Rewire – download the Rewire App today.

Bonus #3: Level up your Brain Health

Check out this Rewire article to learn 5 simple habits that could improve your Brain Health.

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The Best Habits for Your Brain

Did you know that mental decline is common as we age? Many people fear the consequences of aging, such as declining cognitive and mental function or loss of independence. However, there some habits we can implement that have been shown to improve brain health.

Here are the top 5 habits for Brain Health:

1. An active lifestyle and the right diet

Physical activity has been shown to slow the process of brain aging and degenerative pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes. Studies have also proven that an active lifestyle can improve memory and cognitive processes.

Both endurance and resistance exercise allow for muscle synthesis, but there is no consensus on the impact of different types of exercise on brain health. However, research has shown that habitual exercise has a positive impact on both physical and mental health, including brain health.

Additionally, a nutritious diet can help prevent cognitive impairment and improve brain health. Studies have proven that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins (particularly vitamins B, D and E) can positively impact cognitive processes.

2. Balance

Practicing mindfulness and finding the right balance is an important habit that can help us reduce stress and engage positively with the world around us. A poor work-life balance has been shown to have long-term negative impacts on our brain health.

3. Healthy sleep habits

Research has shown that “sleep plays a vital role in brain function” and adults need about 7 hours of sleep every night to be able to perform their best. Check out our article on how to optimise your sleep here!

Other benefits of sleep include:

  • Supports mental health
  • Improves memory
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Supports the immune system

The Rewire App has a personalized Sleep Priming Session because we know just how important quality sleep is.

4. Social interaction

A study in 2020 showed that “social engagement may protect against cognitive decline” and accumulating research has proven that socializing is good for our brain health. Interacting with others trains our brains and social contact can help us improve memory formation and build mental resilience.

5. Stimulate the brain

In the same way that we exercise our bodies, our brains need exercise too. Studies have shown that stimulating the brain can enhance cognitive function and build mental resilience. Interesting in learning more? Read about the worst habits for your brain here.

Rewire’s Neuro-Training protocols are backed by over 10 years of scientific research and have been shown to develop mental resilience. Rewire takes a holistic approach to achieving peak performance by providing tools for training and recovery of both the mind and body.

Give Rewire a try and experience how good habits can help the health of your brain! Train both your physical and mental fitness with Rewire today.

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Sources

Harvard Health. (2006). 12 ways to keep your brain young. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young?msclkid=ee9f1fc9bd5611ec9d3b5fcafd3ab3de [Accessed 16 Apr. 2022].

Di Liegro, C.M., Schiera, G., Proia, P. and Di Liegro, I. (2019). Physical Activity and Brain Health. Genes, [online] 10(9), p.720. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770965/.‌‌

Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, [online] 9(7), pp.568–578. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/.‌

www.medicalnewstoday.com. (2016). Poor work-life balance leads to poor health later in life. [online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313755?msclkid=e3e89170bd7411ec866fa008cd28ab97#Findings-likely-to-apply-to-wider-populations [Accessed 16 Apr. 2022].‌

Medic, G., Wille, M. and Hemels, M. (2017). Short- and long-term Health Consequences of Sleep Disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep, [online] Volume 9(9), pp.151–161. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449130/.‌

Cynthia Felix, MD, MPH, Caterina Rosano, MD, MPH, Xiaonan Zhu, PhD, Jason D Flatt, PhD, MPH, Andrea L Rosso, PhD, MPH, Greater Social Engagement and Greater Gray Matter Microstructural Integrity in Brain Regions Relevant to Dementia, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Volume 76, Issue 6, July 2021, Pages 1027–1035, https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbaa173

Al-Thaqib, A., Al-Sultan, F., Al-Zahrani, A., Al-Kahtani, F., Al-Regaiey, K., Iqbal, M. and Bashir, S. (2018). Brain Training Games Enhance Cognitive Function in Healthy Subjects. Medical science monitor basic research, [online] 24, pp.63–69. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29674605.‌

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How to use Visualization to achieve your goals

How to Use Visualization to Support Sport Performance

Many elite athletes such as Michael Phelps have used visualization techniques in preparation for competition. According to neuropsychological evidence, practicing visualization can help you achieve your sport performance goals. Visualization stimulates brain regions involved in movement rehearsal, priming the brain and body for action and, like physical practice, functions as training to improve real-life performance.

Our top strategies for using visualization to reach your sport performance goals:

  1. Get Clear and Specific on Your Goal: Be clear about what you are trying to achieve. Visualization works best when you are specific and detailed as it needs to be as close to reality as possible.
  2. Visualize the Full Sensory Experience of Reaching Your Sport Performance Goal: Make sure that you visualize the full sensory experience. The more sensations you bring in, the better the mental rehearsal. 
  3. Visualize it in Real-Time: For example, if you are visualizing a 100m sprint, the visualization should reflect the duration of time it will take for you to complete it. It is important for your visualization to be as close to the realistic event as possible. 
  4. Practice Frequently: Practice your visualization daily. Mentally rehearsing allows your skills to improve with repetition. 

Struggling to implement visualization into your day? The Rewire App will support you in your journey to achieving your sport performance goals!

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