We get caught up in the daily grind of taking care of everyone and everything else, and
we forget to take care of ourselves – do you agree?
It’s easy not to pay attention to what we eat, when we exercise or how we stimulate our
brains, which is a necessity that’s almost always overlooked.
Just like our bodies need exercise to stay fit and youthful, our brains also need a good
daily workout to ensure that our brain cells remain healthy and vibrant well into our
golden years. Feeling proactive about your health and taking things into your own hands
can mean the difference between aging gracefully and withering away.
Staying mentally healthy enables us to stay attentive, efficiently manage our
relationships, and deal with challenges and stress. It also helps you connect with who
you are as a person and allow you to take pride in yourself and your abilities.
Here I give you my 4 ideas on how you can keep your mind stimulated:
1. Search for knowledge
Numerous studies have been done on the correlation between the amount of
knowledge you surround yourself with and the wellness of your cognitive functions.
Nowadays, information can be retrieved with the touch of a button, giving you the
opportunity to immerse yourself in an ocean of books, podcasts, articles, and even
mentally stimulating games, such as jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word
searches, and a wide range of others.
When you learn something new, or engage in any sort of mental activity, you build new
neural pathways in the brain, and the more connections each of our neurons has with
other neurons, the more perceptive it is.
This goes for learning a new activity too, such as a musical instrument or taking a dance
class and learning the many dance steps, etc.
Typically, if you don’t use it, you might just lose it!!
2. Form healthy habits
Even the task of writing down your goals – long and short term, helps keep you
mentally alert. It gives you something to plan and look forward to. It also keeps you
engaged in something that boosts your brain cells while giving your emotions an outlet.
Make it a point to try something a new activity every month - a new exercise routine.
Challenge yourself to try outdoor activities and indoor activities. Activate your brain to
research so many activities both indoors and outdoors, but follow through by
challenging yourself to try the actual activity.
These tasks keep your mind on alert, mainly because you’re engaging in the process of
learning, and, in addition, because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. All these
factors help boost concentration levels, as well as your confidence in your abilities to try
new things and meet new people.
3. Exercise, preferably outdoors
Regular exercise releases ‘feel good hormones’ into your bloodstream, boosting your
mood, and elevating memory and concentration levels.
Mixing up workout styles or trying out a new jogging route helps form new patterns in
your brain which means more neural pathways, and less cognitive decline. To make the
most of exercising, try taking your workout to the nearest park where you can connect
more with nature, breathe in some fresh air, and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is known for its ability to prevent depression, as is moving your body. Dr.
Michael Craig Miller from Harvard University reports that low-intensity exercise
sustained over time is the kind of activity that spurs the release of proteins called
neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new
connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better.
"In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the
brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell
growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve
depression” say’s Dr. Miller, so any type of physical activity helps eliminate brain fog,
boost energy levels and alleviate stress.
4. Manage stress
We all deal with stress and anxiety on a daily basis. But when cortisol (the stress
hormone) levels are left unchecked, they start messing with your overall wellbeing.
That’s why it’s smart to invest a few minutes each day in releasing that negative tension
regularly built up by stress. You can do this through meditating, practicing mindfulness,
gratitude awareness, yoga, prayer, or just going for a walk near water or within
bushland or a rainforest, will regulate your cortisol and make you feel less stressed.
Therapy is also a great way to express your emotions in a constructive, nonjudgmental
environment that allows you to set time aside for your needs. Whichever medium you
prefer, the aim is to improve your state of mind while gaining a sense of serenity and
control over your emotions and mental happiness.