What’s the Difference?
Before I started typing this (see, I’m aging myself already by using the word “typing”), I had to first change the font size from 12 to 16 so I could see the words better.
So many aspects of our daily lives change as we get older. And we are all getting older. Every day that passes, we are older. But that doesn’t mean we have to get old! There are two things I’ve always said about about age:
“YOU’RE NOT OLD UNTIL YOU DON’T KNOW A SINGLE LIVING PERSON OLDER THAN YOU.” Ha! Right?!
“AS SOON AS YOU QUIT MOVING, YOU WILL GET OLD VERY QUICKLY.”
The first is to make the point that age should be a state of mind. Yes, your age is a biological number that is important for many things in life! It allows you to get a drivers license, vote and receive social security among many other life changing events. But there comes a time when you have to make your brain health a priority and keep it young and active!! So how do you achieve this?
Ditch the Usual
This can be as simple as changing your daily routine! Do you always take the same route home? Always get dressed with your pants first than your top? Put in your left contact then your right? It will feel so awkward to do things differently but that’s exactly why it’s good for your noggin! Choose one habit and change it for the week or more!
Pushups For Your Brain
- Do word puzzles, online IQ tests. There are endless apps and online games for your brain! But if you’ve done the same Words with Friends for a year, try a new one! (look for the answer to the above puzzle at the end of this blog).
- When writing, don’t rely on spell and grammar check. If you’re on the computer and it notifies you that there is an error, take the time to think about it and correct it yourself (then you can check it!)
- Don’t use the calculator if possible. Go old school. Do the math in your head or on paper. Who remembers how to do long division? Do they even teach that anymore?https://www.mathsisfun.com/long_division.html
- Have you thought about learning how to crochet?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAxGTnVNJiE
- Or play the guitar? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llNuwhZWXKA
- Line dance? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAP1E-B5qk8
- Speak french for an upcoming trip? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujDtm0hZyII
- With the internet, it’s all so accessible and great brain food too!
Stay Physically Active
Exercise keeps your reasoning and thinking skills sharp because it ramps up the blood flow to your brain, along with certain chemicals that help protect it.
ANY MOVEMENT is great! If you’re able to, I recommend incorporating forms of exercise that challenge your brain versus only repetitive movement. I’ve taught Jazzercise for 36 years which is choreographed routines to music so my brain is constantly thinking and learning! And mix things up if you can! Not your brain – your workouts! Try new kinds of exercise and add variety to your activity!
Give your Brain a Break
Just as important as exercising your brain is giving it a rest. Turn off your devices and sit in silence for a few minutes. I know it’s difficult to quiet the voices in your head reminding you about your to do list, or stressors… so try closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. And then guess what…You’re meditating! Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting cross legged on a cushion with earth sounds in the background for 30 minutes. It can be sitting in your car quietly for 5 minutes before you go into the house or grocery store.
A study published in March 2013 in the journal Psychological Science suggests that mindfulness meditation can decrease mind wandering and improve cognitive performance.
Regular meditation can increase the left hippocampus, the part of the brain that specializes in learning, self awareness, and empathy.
Get a good night’s sleep. I know that as we get older, it is common to have difficulty sleeping well. There are many sleep aids available but I encourage you to only rely on natural remedies if you need one. Also, try to go to bed at the same time every night.
Food for Thought
Did you know that our brain uses 20% of our calories? What we choose to eat can affect the health of our brain and I know that as we age, brain health is of the utmost importance. Basically, for a healthy brain it’s sticking to a healthy diet! Some of the key nutrients to fuel our brain are
- B vitamins
- Vitamin E
- Omega-3 Fatty acids
When you read about brain food, always at the top of the list is oily fish such as salmon for it’s high level of Omega 3 and contribution to cell structure. Other high acheivers are
- Nuts and Seeds
- Whole Grains
What to avoid? Chronic heavy drinking can cause permanent changes to the brain and damage. Eating too much sugar can cause sluggishness and brain fog. A poor diet with too much sugar can lead to an aging brain and dementia. https://www.webmd.com/brain/what-to-know-about-foods-for-brain-health#2-6
*Of course you should also stop smoking. For a whole lot of reasons!
So there you have it!! Now, after reading this, are you going to make it a goal to keep your brain young? What one goal are you going to set for the week to work at it? Let me know!
Oh yes….did you get the answer to the brain puzzle above? Don’t worry about your brain if you didn’t. It took me quite a while and my husband never did see it. The word SPOT is written twice! Scroll up and look again!