top of page

6 Ways To Boost Your Brain Reserve To Better Handle Life's Stresses

Written by: Allison Liu, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Life can certainly be stressful at times, especially in midlife, with children leaving home and ageing parents needing more support, on top of work pressures or retirement, illness and possibly even the grief of losing someone you love. To handle these stresses you need to invest in your own mental health – to build your brain reserve. For many, such investment feels like self-indulgence, or that there is no time to squeeze anything else into an already-busy day. However, your brain has needs that must be met in order to work at optimal efficiency and the more brain reserve you have, the better you will be able to handle life’s stresses.

Think of brain reserve like a tank of fuel; the fuller the tank, the less vulnerable you are when something unexpected happens. Conversely, the fuel can get so low that the gauge goes into the red zone, which is not a good place to be. In terms of brain reserve, this can look like low mood, anxiety, brain fog, making poor or impulsive decisions and struggling to remember things or find the right words.

In the same way that you would regularly go to a petrol station to refill a tank, you can regularly boost your brain reserve. Here are my top tips for getting – and staying – out of the red zone. The more you can incorporate these into your everyday life, the better you will think, feel and act.

1. Get moving

You do not have to sign up at the gym to increase your physical activity. Try aiming for a brisk 30-minute walk every day, as well as moving more by taking the stairs instead of the lift at work or doing some gardening or housework. The important thing is to just get moving – regularly. If you are ready for a whole-brain workout you could take up yoga for improved flexibility, do resistance exercises for increased strength and play table tennis to improve coordination. Exercise enhances memory, dissolves amyloid plaques in the brain, lowers the risk of depression and anxiety and helps with decision-making, focus and attention.

2. Prioritise sleep

Aim for 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a night for your brain to function optimally. Good sleep starts with a good day’s waking, so reset your circadian rhythm by getting a walk in daylight first thing in the morning and then preparing for sleep each evening by establishing a relaxing bedtime routine. Far from being a nuisance, sleep is necessary for consolidating learning and memories, controlling appetite and therefore weight, ensuring adequate neurotransmitter production – brain chemicals that make you feel good – regulating your immune system and helping you to prepare for the following day. Not only that. While you sleep your brain gets a wash to take away toxins and dead cells that accumulate during the day.

3. Eat right to think right

Every serving of vegetables and fruit that you eat increases the happiness chemicals in your brain and slows down ageing, so if you want to boost your brain reserve, aim for 5-8 portions a day of a variety of colours. Also, be sure to eat enough high-quality protein such as oily fish as well as healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil. Your brain is the most energy-hungry organ in your body so you need to supply it with all the nutrients and energy that it needs to function well.

4. Do mental workouts

Your brain is like a muscle – you must use or lose it. So to prevent idle nerves from wasting away you need to challenge your brain with mental stimulation and nothing works as well as learning something new. Try visiting a place you have never been to before, taking up a dance or yoga class, learning to play a musical instrument or speaking a foreign language. It is possible to form new neural connections throughout your life so it is important to give your brain the workout it needs regularly.

5. Stay socially connected

Join a club, volunteer or meet regularly at a place of worship to stay socially active. Loneliness can increase the risk for depression and Alzheimer’s disease so keeping socially engaged is an essential way to boost your brain reserve. Make sure to spend plenty of time with those you love, who make you laugh and feel good about yourself.

6. Stress less

Thoughts can be very powerful and can either make us feel great or stressed, anxious, sad and lonely. An essential part of building your brain reserve is therefore investing in your own psychological and emotional health. Find ways to calm anxious thoughts, such as journaling, meditation or prayer and give yourself permission to play from time to time such as painting, reading, meeting up with friends, playing a team sport or exploring new places and it will lift your mood as well as boost your creativity.

Just remember

The higher your brain reserve, the more quickly you will be able to bounce back from challenges and figure out solutions to problems. You will reap its rewards in so many ways; improved mood, focus and attention, sense of belonging and calmer, happier thoughts. It can also provide a buffer as you age, making it more likely that you will be able to hold onto your independence and precious memories. It will be worth every bit of investment.

Also, check out this related Brainz article: Five Top Biohacking Secrets To Kick-Start Your Wellness In 2023 By Meghan Jarvis, Executive Contributor

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Allison!


Allison Liu, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Allison Liu, a brain health coach and expert in helping people get their brain younger, healthier and stronger, struggled with early warning signs of memory loss in her late forties. Forgetting what she was saying in the middle of saying it, feeling increasingly irritable and struggling with panic attacks, she felt she was losing her sense of self. Adopting a science-based approach, which she uses with her clients today, she increased her own ‘brain reserve’, improving her memory, mood and relationships. She now coaches clients around the world through a personalised plan to prevent or slow down cognitive decline so they can remain present with those they love. Her mission: Staying sharp for life.



  • Amen Clinics

  • Food For The Brain Foundation



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page