9 Simple Habits For A Happy Brain

9 simple habits for a happy brain

Ever wondered how to keep your brain in tip-top shape while juggling life's many demands? Well, wonder no more. These habits for a happy brain are scientifically backed practices that not only boost your mood but also enhance your cognitive abilities.

From prioritising sleep to finding meaning in everyday activities, let’s explore nine powerful habits that can transform your mental health and cognitive well-being. Ready to give your brain the TLC it deserves? Let's dive in!

Habit #1: Sleep - Necessity, Not a Luxury

Let's get this straight - sleep is the most important pillar of wellbeing. I can’t emphasise this enough. It’s not a luxury, it’s not nice to have - it's a necessity.

Our biological rhythms are synced with the sun, and skimping on sleep can mess with your cognition, mood, and learning, and even increase your risk of depression and dementia.

Think of healthy sleep as the magic wand that consolidates memory, sparks creativity, and smooths those emotional edges, giving you more control over your communication skills, critical thinking, strategic thinking and more.

So your first priority for a happy, healthy brain is to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.

Habit #2: Exercise - Your Brain Loves To Move

Brains and bodies were made for movement. Your brain evolved to move, not just to think or feel. Like it or not, brain health and physical activity are closely linked.

So, get out there and exercise! Not too much and not too little, but make it consistent in your daily life.

Whether you walk, jog, hike, or dance - whatever gets you moving and interacting with the natural world. It's the best exercise for your brain.

Habit #3: Eat - Real Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants

It’s not really a surprise that your brain works best when fed. And it’s not just about when how much you eat, but what you eat.

Also not a surprise? Nutrition for brain health is pretty much the same as for the rest of your body. Eating for brain health means a combination of clean proteins, good fats, and smart carbs.

Here’s a bit that you might find surprising - gut health and brain health are connected. That’s right - it’s not just what you think about what you eat, it’s also that what you eat affects how you think!

So eat real, whole foods and skip the processed stuff. Which, btw, helps you to skip lots of hidden sugar, too! Hidden sugar, processed franken-food and trans fat are sneaky culprits in mental health hijacking.

So keep it real, especially on your plate!

Habit #4: Nature - Get Outside Every Day

The natural world has a profound impact on our brains and behaviour.

Evidence-based research shows that surrounding yourself with nature, whether it's a walk in the park or a potted plant in your office, can affect your mood and even your health. So this isn’t just woo-woo talking.

So make a point to get outside when you can. Step away from the glowing screens and look at the sky, the grass, the water. Be in it and with it, at least for a little while, as often as you can.

You (and your brain) will be happier and healthier for it.

Habit #5: Calm - Reduce your cortisol

Not all stress is bad, but chronic or toxic stress can wreak havoc on your brain and body. And today’s modern lifestyle is often filled with stress.

The trick is to find ways to improve your perceived ability to cope. Breathe deeply, practice mindfulness, and find your calm amidst the chaos.

Tons of apps have simple five-minute breath work to one-hour meditations. Or combine this habit with #2 and build a yoga practice.

The point is - start somewhere that suits your lifestyle. But find a way to increase your calm and reduce your stress for a happy, healthy brain and body.

Habit #6: Connect - Seek Out Your People

Humans are social creatures. From birth, being loved and connected to others protects against stress.

So even if you’re a self-proclaimed introvert, you need some regular social contact. Why? Because socialising involves complex cognitive functions and is essential for brain health.

So, catch up with friends, join a club, or just chat with a neighbour. And when you feel like ditching that invitation to socialise, remember that connection is an important key to your happiness and brain health.

Habit #7: Challenge - Be Curious

Stay curious and keep learning. Play and mental engagement are just as important for adults as it is for kids.

As an adult, you need to remain curious and stay engaged to prevent cognitive decline and keep your brain growing. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone to keep your brain sharp and youthful.

How? Try learning a new language, signing up for a course, or competing with friends on Wordle.

Habit #8: Feel - Be Present To Your Positive Emotions

Positive emotions and experiences can create an upward spiral of well-being. Practice savouring the good moments, and your brain will wire itself for more positivity and better health.

Think that sounds a little woo-woo? Think again. This is evidence-based and how the reticular activating system in our brain works.

So, make a point not to wallow in negative thoughts and learn to encourage your own positive emotions - for your brain’s sake.

Habit #9: Meaning - Your Life Values Are Important

Purpose and meaningful work bring positive emotions like love, compassion, and gratitude. These emotions counteract stress and are essential for a healthy brain and a happy life.

Not to mention gives you a sense of purpose and helps you enjoy the work you do.

So, DO find your purpose (or at least keep looking for it) to live a fulfilling life that feels meaningful to you.

How To Improve Brain Health?

Incorporating these nine simple habits into your daily life can significantly enhance your brain's health and your overall well-being.

Remember, a happy brain isn't a luxury - it's a necessity. By cultivating these habits, you'll not only boost your mood and cognitive abilities but also pave the way for a more fulfilling, vibrant life. So, start today - your brain will thank you!

If you'd like a little help turning these behaviours into habits, consider my online, go-at-your-own-pace wellness courses. Visit this page to get the details.


  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved from [https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/patient-caregiver-education/understanding-sleep](https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/patient-caregiver-education/understanding-sleep)
  2. Walker, M. P. (2017). Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Scribner.
  3. Rasch, B., & Born, J. (2013). About sleep's role in memory. Physiological Reviews, 93(2), 681-766.
  4. Ratey, J. J., & Loehr, J. E. (2011). The positive impact of physical activity on cognition during adulthood: A review of underlying mechanisms, evidence, and recommendations. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 22(2), 171-185.
  5. Cordain, L., Eaton, S. B., Sebastian, A., Mann, N., Lindeberg, S., Watkins, B. A., ... & Brand-Miller, J. (2005). Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 81(2), 341-354.
  6. Mattson, M. P., Allison, D. B., Fontana, L., Harvie, M., Longo, V. D., Malaisse, W. J., ... & Panda, S. (2014). Meal frequency and timing in health and disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(47), 16647-16653.
  7. Levine, M. E., Suarez, J. A., Brandhorst, S., Balasubramanian, P., Cheng, C. W., Madia, F., ... & Longo, V. D. (2014). Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer, and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. Cell metabolism, 19(3), 407-417.
  8. Kuo, F. E., & Taylor, A. F. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health, 94(9), 1580-1586.
  9. Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224(4647), 420-421.
  10. McEwen, B. S., & Gianaros, P. J. (2010). Central role of the brain in stress and adaptation: links to socioeconomic status, health, and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186(1), 190-222.
  11. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 10(2), 144-156.
  12. Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213-225.
  13. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227-237.
  14. Cacioppo, J. T., & Hawkley, L. C. (2009). Perceived social isolation and cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(10), 447-454.
  15. Berkman, L. F., & Syme, S. L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: a nine-year follow-up study of Alameda County residents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 109(2), 186-204.
  16. Salthouse, T. A. (2006). Mental exercise and mental aging: evaluating the validity of the "use it or lose it" hypothesis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(1), 68-87.
  17. Wilson, R. S., Mendes De Leon, C. F., Barnes, L. L., Schneider, J. A., Bienias, J. L., Evans, D. A., & Bennett, D. A. (2002). Participation in cognitively stimulating activities and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. JAMA, 287(6), 742-748.
  18. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218-226.
  19. Layous, K., Chancellor, J., Lyubomirsky, S., Wang, L., & Doraiswamy, P. M. (2011). Delivering happiness: Translating positive psychology intervention research for treating major and minor depressive disorders. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(8), 675-683.
  20. Fredrickson, B. L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science,
How to Eat For Health, Energy and Lifelong Well-being


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!