Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Are you taking care of your brain as well as your body? We’ve been exercising and we eat pretty well, too. But we realize we need to also maintain mental fitness to keep our brains healthy.

We see that people can get caught up in the daily grind of taking care of everyone and everything else, and then forget to take care of themselves. When we’re busy, it’s easy to overlook healthy eating and regular exercise. However, what’s probably overlooked even more often is how to stimulate our brains. Taking good care of our brains is necessary if we want to be mentally fit.

Just like our bodies need exercise to stay fit and youthful, our brains also need a good daily workout to ensure that our brain cells remain healthy and vibrant. Being proactive about our health and taking things into our own hands can mean the difference between aging gracefully and withering away.

When we stay mentally healthy, it enables us to stay attentive, have good relationships, and we’ll be better able to handle stress. Because these seem like good benefits to staying mentally fit, we’ll share some ways to help achieve that goal.

1. Keep learning.

There are many research studies that show a correlation with the amount of knowledge you gain and the health of your cognitive function. When you keep learning new things, you challenge your brain to keep working well.

We love to spend time learning, and with today’s technology, there are so many ways to gain knowledge. With a touch of a button you can immerse yourself in thousands of books, articles, lectures, and podcasts.

There are many different mentally-stimulating games, such as Scrabble, Suduko, chess, crossword puzzles, and word searches, to name a few. Many games can be played with people all over the world, without you having to leave your living room.

When you learn something new and engage in mental activity, you build new neural pathways in the brain and become more perceptive. Patty Berg said, “Always keep learning. It keeps you young.”

2. Practice healthy habits.

Even the simple task of writing down goals helps keep you mentally alert. This also helps you plan, look forward to accomplishing goals and helps you stay engaged with life.

Make it a habit to try going new places. Maybe you can try out a new restaurant each month and find ones that serve healthy meals.

The habit of regularly challenging yourself by doing different things will get you out of your comfort zone. It will also contribute to the new learning we mentioned, plus it will keep life interesting and brain cells stimulated. Jim Rohn said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

3. Get exercise.

Regular exercise is helpful to keeping your body and brain in shape. When you exercise, the ‘feel good hormones’ are released in your bloodstream. They help elevate mood, and raise memory and concentration abilities.

If you can go to a nearby park, you can enjoy nature and this contributes to new experiences which stimulate the brain. Also, exercising outdoors has the added benefit of allowing you to soak up Vitamin D which research shows is helpful for health of body, mind, and spirit, too!

Robin Sharma said, “If you don’t take time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness.” We don’t want illness!

4. Manage stress.

This is easier to say than to do. Life can seem so busy. At times, we all have to deal with anxiety and stress. It’s the degree of stress and whether it’s chronic, that makes a difference.

When stress is too great, it’s easy for the rest of good healthy habits to go downhill. The stress hormone, cortisol, can get released and this can negatively affect health. Practices like prayer, meditation, mindfulness and yoga can help lower stress so your body and mind can relax.

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or have emotions that need to be expressed, confide in a trusted mentor or health professional. This can help lower stress and put your mind at ease. The goal is to help gain serenity and mental fitness. Joan Borysenko said, “Each day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.”

What about you? What do you want to commit to do to have mental fitness? We encourage you to keep learning, practice healthy habits, exercise and manage stress, so you can stay mentally fit. We hope our paths will cross as we’re out trying some new things, too!

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at