Five steps to improve your psychological and cognitive functions

Drew Allen shares five tips that will help you beat stress and build a healthy foundation for future mental growth

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Calmer

Chronic worries can lead to significant cognitive declines and, given the current global economic uncertainty and rising food and energy costs, this can lead to widespread insecurity and social unrest. Whether you find yourself making repeated mistakes at work, forgetting important dates or details, or having trouble keeping up with tasks that were once second nature to you, worry can manifest in many ways.

Here are five simple ways to work to boost your cognitive functioning and reclaim your mental energy.

Improve your sleep schedule

Sleep is arguably the most underestimated factor in good psychological health; when you sleep, your body recovers, fights disease, repairs muscles and refreshes your brain. The hours you spend sleeping each night influence the accuracy of your mental acuity the next day; from feeling more energetic to improving memory, sleep and cognition go hand in hand.

Poor quality sleep and insufficient rest in general can lead to memory loss, reduced problem solving skills, poor attention, lack of concentration and more. If you’re having trouble with your sleep pattern, consider cutting out caffeine at least eight hours before bed, turning off your phone, and avoiding electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.

Adopting a practice of rest and relaxation will help you deal with the events of the day and fall asleep gradually, which can help you sleep better.

Learn to deal with negative relationships

The people in your life play a huge role in how you feel. If you find yourself surrounded by negative relationships, these negative emotions can begin to affect you and cause emotional exhaustion.

While it may not be possible for you to simply stop talking to a difficult boss, co-worker, relative, or friend, there are ways to manage these relationships with communication strategies that can make managing them easier. A useful technique is to write down all the reasons why being away would be a good thing. Try not to let guilt cloud your judgment when doing this exercise; If the reasons to stop communicating outweigh the benefits of staying in touch, now is a good time to take action and put your well-being first.

Set personal boundaries

Limits aren’t just about what you allow others – they also help you make better choices for yourself. If you decide that weekends are for relaxation and not for work, that means avoiding work-related phone calls and checking your email — no matter how much your brain tells you that you need to do more. New habits start with small steps that become easier to implement over time.

Setting limits like these can also help you stay committed to goals like staying active, eating well, and reducing screen time. While setting boundaries isn’t always easy, taking the time to figure out what will work for you will go a long way to improving your mental health.

Keep control of your finances

Money issues can lead to chronic stress and, therefore, lower cognitive functioning. Worrying about your finances can take over your personal and professional life and affect your motivation and ambition. If this sounds familiar, it’s important to take positive steps to regain control of your finances.

Consider ways to ease the stress, such as taking out loans or reducing your expenses. These empowering decisions can help you regain greater financial stability, allowing you to start thinking about the future again rather than finding yourself in a state of worry and stress.

Have the courage to ask for help

Try not to overextend yourself. There is a difference between taking on a challenge and suffering in silence. If you find that you are unable to improve your cognition and psychological well-being on your own, contact someone you trust or a professional such as your doctor or therapist.

You can also seek out professionals to help you in other areas of your life. Maybe now would be a good time to seek out a career coach or mentor? Recognizing your own needs and respecting your boundaries can free up space, reduce stress, and allow you to grow without guilt.

The Journey to Good Mental Health

The adult brain is not stuck in a permanent state of being; it can change, evolve and expand, creating new paths and rewiring to help us continue to improve and perform better.

Remember that mental health is a lifelong journey, so it’s important to check in with yourself regularly. Our physiology has a direct impact on our psychological state of mind; taking care of things that seem unrelated to your mind can actually have the biggest impact on its performance.

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