FORTUNE – We can take care of our brains like we do the rest of our body in order to help us think logically and strengthen our emotional processing throughout the day.
Daily habits keep our brains healthy, and as the New Year kicks into full swing, it’s a great time to think about small ways to incorporate new tools into your routine.
Research shows that taking breaks, practicing gratitude, and trying something new can support brain health. Here are some ways to strengthen your brain this year and take care of yourself:
When we multitask, we subconsciously tell our brains that “some things are not worth remembering,” Dr. Marc Milstein, author of the book The Age-Proof Brain: New Strategies to Improve Memory, Protect Immunity, and Fight Off Dementia, previously told Fortune.
The seconds we spend constantly oscillating from task to task prevent certain pieces of information from going from our short-term to long-term memory.
Try the pomodoro method, where you strategically alternate between tasks and breaks. If you focus on a single task for 25 minutes, you’ll be more productive and retain more information.
“People are surprised how much more they remember when they just slow down a bit in a world where we are forced to multitask and move to the next,” says Milstein.
Find moments of joy
Last year, I tried the UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center’s Big Joy Project, which consists of doing seven days of seven micro-acts of joy to reduce overwhelm and instill happiness.
While bits of stress can be healthy, chronic stress can harm the brain, affecting thinking, memory, and mood. Small acts of joy can disrupt this stress cycle.
I listened to a short meditation, completed an act of kindness, started a gratitude practice, and reached out to a friend.
While small acts of joy aren’t meant to fix underlying mental health conditions, they did take me out of an elevated state of alert and allowed me to feel more grateful—which many experts tout as a way to improve mood and anxiety.
Go for a brisk walk
When we feel stressed or burned out, our brains can slide down a worry cycle that can feel debilitating and impossible to break. Researchers discovered that stressful events are associated with an increased risk for mental and physical illness … read more.