Optimize Your Brain Health by Balancing the 4 Circles of Life (with a nod to Dr. Amen)
To live as whole, healthy human beings we need to have balance in all aspects of our lives. SHiFT Brain Health Coaching includes assessing and optimizing factors of the 4 Circles of Your Life to help you achieve good brain health. The four circles of life are:
- Biological – how your physical body functions (body)
- Psychological – developmental issues and how you think (mind)
- Social – social support and your current life situation (connections)
- Spiritual – your sense of meaning and purpose (spirit)
BIOLOGICAL factors are the physical aspects of your brain and body and how they function together. The brain is like a computer – both hardware and software (the control and command center of the entire body). Your biology is your hardware. For it to work properly, its machinery – cells, connections, chemicals, energy, blood flow and waste processing – need to work right.
In order to optimize your biological factors we recommend the following:
- A healthy diet and high-quality nutrition (a variety of whole, vitamin-rich foods)
- Cardiovascular exercise (raises your heart rate) on a regular basis to improve cognitive abilities (increases oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the brain)
- Drink plenty of water (your brain is 75-80% water!) ½ your body weight in ounces/day
- Supplements as needed.
- Medication as needed.
- Brain Integration
- Make sleep a priority (7-9 hours/night)
- Sleep apnea evaluation and treatment
PSYCHOLOGICAL factors are how we think and talk to ourselves; the running dialogue that goes on in our mind. They are also our self-concept, body image, past traumas, overall upbringing, and significant developments events. Being raised in a reasonably happy home, getting positive messages and feeling confident in our abilities as children contribute to good psychological health.
We recommend the following to help optimize your Psychological factors:
- Therapy/coaching. Sometimes a well-trained guide is just what you need.
- Meditation – taking time to quiet your mind has been linked to a variety of health benefits: improved sleep decreased stress and boosted the immune system and enhanced brain connectivity
- ANT Therapy (Automatic Negative Thoughts and how to stop them…)
- Be curious! Remember change is a process. Be willing to learn new things
- Dealing with past traumas, grief, or other emotional issues
- Exercising regularly to improve mood, focus, reduce stress and minimize the risks of Alzheimer’s
SOCIAL factors are the quality of your relationships and any current life stressors. When things are going well in our lives, our brains tend to do much better. Dealing with difficult life circumstances elevates stress hormones and makes us more vulnerable to illness. Depression is often triggered by stressful life events. The health habits of the people you spend time with have a dramatic impact on your own health and habits!
To optimize Social factors, try the following:
- Cultivate your social connections to help you reduce overall stress, elevate mood, introduce new intellectual challenges, inspire more physical activity, and allow expression emotionally. Also, encourages more FUN!
- “All you need is love” – The Beatles had it right! Scientists have found that loving and being loved also help promote brain health!
- Ensuring appropriate school or work accommodations
- Relationship counseling Parenting classes Social skills training, these all help with social factors.
- Join a group to learn new skills, play games, exercise/yoga, etc., choir or band. Social isolation is detrimental to your health!
SPIRITUAL factors: we are spiritual beings. To be at our best, it’s important to know that we are more than just our bodies, minds, brains, and social connections. Having a sense of purpose, as well as connections to past and future generations, allows us to reach beyond ourselves to affirm that our lives matter. Without this, our lives might feel meaningless. Research shows that having a sense of meaning and purpose helps us be healthier and live longer.
To optimize you Spiritual factors, we suggest:
- Meditation/Prayer – slow breathing stimulates emotional circuits in the brain and releases feel-good hormones!
- Journal to better know yourself In-depth look at what your life means
- Begin each day with intention, gratitude, and appreciation – focus on what you want.
- Believe it and you will see it (universal law of attraction)!
- Establish major life goals
- Life timeline to see all that you have accomplished
- Genetic research (your history) ***Researchers are learning that while genes are important to a healthy longevity, your lifestyle choices may be even more so.
About the author: Robin Schuh is a Master Integrative Coach, and a licensed Brain Health Coach. Robin is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and draws on over 30 years of experience in executive management, training, education and executive coaching. Robin is creative, enthusiastic and experienced and we are honored to have her on Team SHiFT. In her spare time, Robin enjoys reading, cooking, and llamas.