We have homework for you and your family this summer: practice speaking to yourself more positively and say goodbye to ANTs. Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs), according to renowned brain-health expert Dr. Daniel Amen, “ruin your day, steal your happiness, and prolong grief.” And who needs that? Instead, Dr. Amen suggests replacing ANTs “with more helpful thoughts that give you a more accurate, fair assessment of any situation. This skill alone can completely change your life if you embrace and practice it.” Make this a family homework assignment by encouraging your children to reframe self-talk. The earlier they learn to do this, the easier it will be.

Say Goodbye to Negative Thinking
Negative thinking can have such a detrimental effect not just on your mental health, but also your brain health. Negative self-talk can lead to concentrating on the negatives and ignoring the positives. These thoughts can cause your brain to release chemicals that affect your entire body and can promote the buildup of harmful brain plaque, increasing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Embrace the Positive
Positive thoughts, on the other hand, can release chemicals that make you feel great from head to toe and keep your brain healthy. What Dr. Amen prescribes goes way beyond the power of positive thinking. Eliminating negativity and embracing the positive takes lots of work, just like any behavior changes we make. While mindfulness and meditation can help manage anxiety and depression, talking to yourself more positively can affect every aspect of the aging process and increase longevity.

Fitness Tips to Keep Your Brain Healthy
Positive self-talk is one of the many ways to a healthier brain. Here are the six additional ways to navigate your journey to a healthier brain that will benefit the entire family.

  1. Get Moving!
    Physical exercise improves blood flow and memory, and stimulates chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, mood, and thinking.
  2. Eat Smart
    You are what you eat. As we age, our brains are exposed to more harmful stress due to lifestyle and environmental factors causing oxidation, which damages brain cells. Foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent the harmful effects of oxidation in your brain.
  3. Control Medical Risks
    Get engaged in a brain healthy lifestyle for your body and mind by controlling and reducing your risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, head trauma, high cholesterol, and smoking.
  4. Sleep and Relax
    Sleep energizes you and improves your mood. Practicing meditation and managing stress can prevent age-related brain health decline.
  5. Use Your Mind
    Mental health is just as important as physical health in keeping your brain healthy. Mental exercises can improve brain functioning and promote new brain cell growth.
  6. Stay Actively Engaged
    Spending time with family and friends, engaging in stimulating conversation, and connecting with others are so good for your brain health and outlook on life.