It is true that getting older impacts your brain. However, you are never too old and certainly it is never too late – to take charge of your health. This makes me think of a saying that was in the classic film, Wizard of Oz, when Glenda (the Good Witch) encouraged Dorothy saying, “You had the power all along my dear” Now she is referencing that she can get back home if she puts her heart and mind into it. But this is the perfect example that YOU also have the power to start developing healthy behaviors for your brain if you put your mind to it! Here are five ways to help with the aging brain.
Tip #1: Stimulate Your Brain Your brain is always growing and adapting to every experience you go through. To keep it healthy, you must encourage it to continue learning and growing. There are countless activities that count as brain exercises and stimulate your mind. You could even try something new! Here are five examples: try a new recipe, picking up paint brush, sewing, playing a game, and even learning a music instrument. Also, it does not matter if you are any good at the skill; it only matters that you do it and let yourself enjoy every minute!
Tip #2: Get Out in Nature While mental stimulation can be great, your brain also needs breaks so it can process and relax. One of the best ways to give your brain a chance to breathe and optimize your mental performance is to get out and spend time in nature! Even if all you have is 10 minutes a day. You could walk down the sidewalk in your neighborhood, go to a park, or even sit outside in nature. On the days you cannot make it outside, even listening to nature sounds can also optimize your mental function and stress responses.
Tip #3: Exercise When you exercise, your body pumps more blood throughout the body, including to the brain. A combination of diverse types of exercises can help keep you interested and mentally stimulated. For example, you could choose from going walking, swimming, dancing, or aerobic exercises one day. Then on another day you could try resistance or strength training exercises. Whatever gets your body moving and keeps your mind engaged!
Tip #4: Stress Management Stress is normal in life. However, too much stress can have negative effects on your health—including your brain health. That’s why you need to find healthy coping techniques to manage stress in your life. Some of the same healthy coping techniques for stress are the same healthy behaviors to support your brain health! For example, activities and skills you participate in to stimulate your mind can be great ways to relieve stress, and spending time in nature can give your mind time to reset and relax away from stressors. You can also practice meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Whatever techniques you choose, practice the techniques often, so you can stay on top stress management.
Tip #5: Sleep One of the best ways to support the health of your brain as you age is making sure you get in 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted quality sleep every night. Doctors and professional recommend this because it will give your brain enough time to process the experiences of your day and perform natural repair functions. Think of it like required daily maintenance for a sensitive and powerful machine. If you skip out on maintenance, you risk damaging the machine’s parts. Eventually, that means having a device that does not work as well as it should. Regularly skimping on quality sleep can have profound consequences on your brain health. If you find yourself having trouble with sleep, your environment might be the culprit. Put away phones and other screens an hour or two before bed. The light from your devices can make it difficult to fall asleep. Other factors in your environment can impact your ability to get some shut eye: the temperature, ambient light, and sounds. Your behaviors before bed can also affect your sleep cycle. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages in the evening and stick as close as possible to the same sleep-wake schedule every day.
Healthy habits take time to develop and choosing to support your brain health now will prepare you to maintain its normal functioning as you age. And remember, “You have the power my dear”! Tell us – do you already engage in daily brain health activities? Which ones have you noticed have made the biggest difference in how you feel?
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