Challenge your grey matter each day - the young brain feeds on novelty and challenge. Use these tips to keep your brain and your mind sharp throughout life.
There are various ways to keep your brain young and fit. And let’s face it – your brain is just as important as your body. If you lose major functioning in your brain, you would be completely dependent on others. Use it or lose it. We’ve all heard that saying. But it’s true, and it applies as much to your brain as it does to your body. The idea is to constantly challenge yourself. Challenge your body (but don't overdo it), and challenge your brain and your mind. If you don’t, you will lose your edge, especially as you age.
Here are some tips for keeping your brain young:
The youthful brain feeds on novelty and challenge. So, you want to keep challenging your brain, and keep feeding it novel experiences. Travel to places you’ve never been to. If you can’t travel, periodically take a different route to your local destinations - a route you are unfamiliar with. Put yourself in new, unfamiliar environments from time to time. Your brain already knows the 4 walls of your home. You could find most things in your house with your eyes closed. Put yourself in a new environment regularly.
For a social challenge, expand your social network. (And that doesn’t mean adding more friends on social media.) Stop spending all your time with familiar people in a familiar social network. Meet and get to know people who challenge your way of thinking. People from different cultures, people from different parts of the country or world. People who have different models of the world than you do. To meet some new people, try volunteer work. Join a political campaign as a volunteer that you believe in. There are plenty of organizations looking for help. Break your routine. Remember, the brain lights up when it is exposed to novelty, not when it is caught in a rut and functioning on autopilot.
Look to expand your knowledge - have a reading program throughout life. Read about subjects you know little about. Read mysteries. Read about things that challenge your mind. Even if you can’t budget a higher degree at the moment, there are plenty of free or cheap learning opportunities offered online or at your local community college. Or simply visit your local library and check out an interesting book.
Stimulate your senses: Try new recipes. Take a drive out to the country in the spring or summer and take a good whiff of the countryside. Travel and look at vistas you’ve never seen before. (Reading National Geographic is not a substitute.) Try crossword puzzles. Take up new hobbies. Try to learn a new musical instrument, a foreign language, or a new sport. Try to paint. Try sculpture or woodcarving. Do something creative.
Reach out to the little ones! They have so much simple wisdom. Spend more time with your children. If you have grandchildren, spend a day with them. Interact with them. Play imaginative games with them. You’ll be surprised how lively and creative they can be!
Do things from time to time with your opposite hand. Try brushing your teeth with your other hand. Try writing with your other hand (when you’re just writing unimportant notes such as at home). The idea is to do things the opposite way you are accustomed to from time to time. What this does is keep your nervous system younger.
Cut back unhealthy foods, such as sugar and fatty foods. These foods will hurt your brain functioning. Ask your physician which vitamins or supplements you should be taking. Studies have shown that carotenoids, found in spinach, romaine, and tomatoes, may help keep your mind sharp. Eat more of these foods. Eat more blueberries - Research studies show that blueberries not only improve cognitive function and delay neurological decline, but also protect delicate brain structures against oxidative damage. Blueberries may even reverse age-related deficits in cognitive and motor function. Eat more salmon.
Last but not least – EXERCISE. Exercise daily. Don’t overdo it, but get on a regular exercise program. Mix it up. Remember, the mind leads the body. By exercising regularly, you’re keeping not only your body fit, but your brain and mind as well. Get the blood flowing.
In short, you must always challenge yourself - physically, socially, mentally - to expand your horizons, while keeping your body in good shape. This has shown to keep your brain in great shape for your later years. Keep reading our blog for more healthy lifestyle tips!