10 Easy Ways to Keep Your Mind Active and Strong
by Sarah Ban
Ever have a "senior moment" when you can't remember something you'd just been thinking about? It seems like almost everyone has experienced the phenomenon of walking into a room with a purpose and then completely forgetting why they walked in in the first place. As we age, we naturally begin to fear the deterioration of our minds and bodies. It certainly doesn't help that certain degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia become more common as we get older. Thus, it is in our best interest to keep our minds active in the hopes of staving off memory loss and other cognitive impairments. There is, luckily, quite a lot of ways we can improve mental function. Think of it like exercising your brain the same way you'd exercise your body to stay fit. Here, we've outlined 10 ways you can keep your mind healthy for a long, long time.
1. Don't Stop Learning
Just because you're done with school, it doesn’t mean you have to stop learning! Learning can continue well into old age so long as you're determined and proactive about it. Reading, acquiring new skills, engaging in hobbies or trying to master something like a foreign language can all improve mental function and keep the mind sharp and active.
2. Repeat, Repeat
When you're learning something new, it can be helpful to repeat it to yourself a few times to make sure it really sinks in. Writing things down has also been associated with helping to retain that information in the future.
3. Be Puzzled
Puzzles, word games and brain teasers can all improve your memory and keep your mind active. Different areas of your brain get triggered depending on what type of puzzle or game you're working with, so try to keep it diverse. Scrabble, Sudoku, crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles are all excellent ways to keep your mind pliable.
4. Get Handsy
Activities that emphasize finger dexterity have been linked to better mental acumen. Playing a musical instrument, knitting, sewing, building model sets are all great ways you can use your hands and strengthen your mind.
5. Keep It Moving
Cardiovascular exercise can actually improve your mental faculties. One study found that aerobic exercise, even something as simple as a brisk walk, could greatly improve the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Further research has found a similar connection between walking and curbing dementia. Walking an hour a day three times a week can keep your mind sharp and your body healthy. A win-win!
Meditation has been associated with a variety of benefits, including easing depression and reducing stress. There is now growing evidence and research that meditation can also improve cognitive function, going so far as to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's as well. With LATHER's Mindful Moments Meditation Kit, meditation is made easy. The Stop, Think and Breathe App allows you access to over 50 guided meditations to help you keep your mind active. Other items in the kit to assist in meditation include a Frankincense and Sandalwood Candle, an Inner Peace Meditation Balm and a Beaded Wrap Bracelet that serves as a reminder to take some time for yourself every day.
7. Ditch Technology (Or Don't)
You don't have to be Amish about it, but relying less on technology can greatly improve brain function. Think about how often you use technology to do simple tasks, like keep track of phone numbers and calculate sums. Instead of using the calculator or your phone, try to solve simple math problems on your own and make an effort to memorize certain key phone numbers instead of depending on your phone to save them for you. On the other hand, you can use technology to help you by using apps that are made specifically to get you to exercise your mind. Apps that incorporate puzzles and problem solving can be particularly helpful.
8. Meet New People
It's almost too easy to socialize with people with whom you have much in common. But your beliefs and thought processes rarely get tested in this way. Meeting people from different cultures or even political groups can help stimulate your brain as you learn new things or engage in healthy debates.
9. Embrace Sensory Overload
Engaging all of your senses while learning can significantly improve memory and mental function. Gardening, for example, is considered a great activity to enhance your brain because you use so many of your senses (including touch, smell and sight) in order to do it. Camping and traveling are also touted as excellent ways to activate different areas of your brain through use of your senses.
10. Challenge Yourself
Your brain is most active when you challenge yourself. This can include learning a new skill, using your non-dominant hand, playing chess or stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to hobbies and activities. Anything new you can do is sure to stimulate your mind. Once you've mastered a skill, your brain is no longer as engaged, so the key here is to keep busy learning new things as much as you can. Even trying to learn a new word a day can be very helpful.