How to Keep the Limbic System Healthy

The limbic system is the control center of your feelings and emotions, which is why maintaining a healthy limbic system is critical for optimal physical and emotional health and most importantly, for the quality of life. A healthy limbic system will promote creativity, problem-solving skills, improved decision making, and overall productivity in many areas of your life. Prevention is your best option for the health of your limbic system, but even if you are experiencing warning signs of dysfunction, you can still implement useful tips and strategies for the best health of your limbic system.

1) Spend time outdoors.

Advances in technology have contributed to people spending long periods of time indoors, on smartphones and in front of computers, and receiving less exposure to fresh air and other outdoor elements that are critical for good health. As recent as a century ago, our ancestors spent much of their time outdoors, which means that genetically, we require outdoor time in order to experience out best health.

Activities such as walking on grass or among trees; looking out to the serene view of a river, lake, or beach; feeling a gentle breeze or sunshine on your face; or inhaling fresh air is critical for a healthy limbic system. Instead, many of us spend hours exposed to artificial heat or air conditioning in poorly ventilated areas. It is important to spend at least one-hour daily (whether intermit or continuous) outdoors either going for a walk or even sitting in an outdoor area. Many people report that even a brief 15-minute walk outdoors can improve productivity, motivation, and mood, factors that are directly tied to limbic system functioning.

2) Meditation.

Meditation can be practiced in several forms and does not necessarily need to involve silence and stillness. Although spending time clearing the mind and focusing on deep breathing is beneficial for limbic system health, it is important to find the style of meditation that fits you and your lifestyle best. Meditation can involve physically active practices such as yoga or several types of martial arts or even activities such as drawing, painting, knitting, building, crafts, or virtually any manual activity. When you engage your mind and body and focus on the act, you are clearing your mind and bringing your awareness to the present moment, two important components of meditation.

3) Changing routine.

Maintaining limbic system health is largely focused on reducing stress levels (if you are experiencing warning signs of chronic stress) or preventing stress from affecting your physical and emotional health. Changing your typical, daily routine essentially disrupts the production of stress that can develop during a workday, as a result of interpersonal interactions, or with family/home life. The problem is that we often function on autopilot throughout the day, attempting to accomplish tasks as quickly as possible and often ignoring our need for a break to promote our self-care. In actuality, taking time to break from routine will make us even more productive and allow us to accomplish more tasks while maintaining the health of our limbic system in the process.

Changing routine can involve an activity as simple as taking a coffee/tea break outdoors, going for a brief walk outside of your office building, having lunch in a different area, or even stepping away from your desk and listening to some music on your headphones. The focus is to do something different from your typical activities of the day and continuously change the activity that you do to break your routine on a regular basis.

*Want to learn more about our brain functions, check out my post here.

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