Keeping Your Brain Strong

organized messy desktop

This is a guest post by Amanda Carlson.

I was working in a very large, very busy office until I was about forty-six and because of all the demands on my time I was always leaving myself reminders. These reminders were in the form of sticky notes, computer reminders, or calendar notes. They kept me on time and on the right course through thick and thin. Without these types of reminders I would have been lost since I am not the world’s most organized person to begin with.

I am extremely good at getting several things done at once and being very flexible. You need all types in an office environment to make it really work. I am just as thankful as the next person for those super organized folks who keep things in order but more often than not they are not very flexible. And then there are folks like me who have an organized mess. It may look messy to you but I know exactly where everything is and what you see as chaos I see as organization. Regardless… it takes all kinds.

No matter whether you are super organized, average, or sloppy even the best of us (and I am speaking for the majority, not all) start to forget where we put our keys, our glasses, or forget what we walked into the next room for. When this began to happen to me after I made some changes in my life and was no longer working at my busy office I thought it was because I was not keeping busy enough. Frankly I was a bit scared that I was losing my edge. I did not think I was that old and I actually blamed it on stress in my life at the time. Still, even though I had something to blame, it frightened me and I was determined to do something about it.

I read a few articles about how to keep your mind and thinking strong and one of those articles mentioned doing crossword puzzles so I ran out and bought a few crossword books and started to do them. I really enjoyed myself and I was learning some new words so I was pretty pleased. But if crossword puzzles are not your thing do not worry because you can do other things. Any thinking game will do, just keep your mind stimulated. There are different parts of your brain that get stimulated in different ways so there are a bunch of things you can do to keep your thinking at peak performance.

Staying social is another great way to keep your brain finely tuned. It seems that when we plan events, talk to different people, and just get out and chat it up that it stimulates another part of the brain. Along with stimulating your brain it just makes you happy and that is another way to keep your brain active! Stay happy, positive, upbeat, etc. If you have had a particularly bad day then do your best to put it out of your mind and think about a really good memory. Think about the place, the people, the smells, and rehearse the entire event over in your mind and get back to your happy place. It is also a great thing to laugh! If you have a good friend that makes you laugh then talk to them often. If all of your friends are unavailable then sit down and watch a comedy.

Watch your diet; do not fill it full of junk food. I know we all eat junk food occasionally but it is best to limit it and have balanced meals. Eating fish at least once a week is said to help your mental prowess. Alas, I have a limited palate when it comes to fish so I take supplements but there are certain “unfishy” fish that I can take and I do my best to fit those into my diet. Get lots of veggies, fruits, and whole grains. When you eat healthy you feel better and when you feel better you think better.

Exercise is another great way to keep your mental fitness. If you are anything like me you may hate going to the gym or just walking around the neighborhood. There are all kinds of ways to get your exercise that are not quite so boring. You can take dance lessons, you can golf, play tennis, do yard work, bike, or hike. Going to the gym or taking a monotonous walk are not the only ways you can exercise. Get a friend to do something with you, and then you have killed two birds with one stone as the old saying goes. You can socialize and exercise. When you are done you can even prepare a healthy dinner together and eat!

Taking naps is a great way to keep your mind sharp. Studies have been done that show that even if you just take a cat nap for ten minutes it sharpens your mind. This one , some napped for six minutes, and some for thirty-five to forty-five minutes. They read them all a story and asked them questions about the story. All the participants who took naps did much better than those who did not and there was no notable distinction between the six minute nappers and the ones who took long naps. So when you can shut your eyes and get at least six minutes you are way ahead of the game. I like this one, now I can tell everyone I have to have a nap to sharpen my mind!

Watching the news or reading the newspaper and keeping up with current events is another great way to keep your brain in shape. Reading in particular is a great way to keep the mind sharp. I know this one from experience since my Grandma always read and she was as sharp as a tack until she passed away. She had some fascinating facts to share at all times as well. No matter what you read it is good for the mind. Watching movies is also supposed to be a great stimulus for the mind according to some of the materials I was reading.

There are so many things you can do to keep your mind sharp, just find a couple of things you enjoy and do them. The point is to do something, not do nothing. If you have children or grandchildren then play video games with them. A hobby is a great way to keep your mind active, if you do not have one then try something new.

Most of us live places where there are community colleges and they are a great place to go to keep your mind active. Most offer classes in different kinds of arts, crafts, languages, music, baking, sewing, or you can just take an exercise class or a math class if that’s your fancy! I took a class in ceramics a few years ago and had a wonderful time doing it. I was not particularly good at it but it was such great fun. Some of the people in my class were awesome and I loved to see what they could create. Mine were not really mantle worthy but I had a great time none the less. It is also a great way to meet people and there was tons of laughter. Especially when my stuff came out of the kiln, not really, they were very sweet. We did have a great time. Think about getting involved this way.

Another great place to get involved is at your local YMCA, they have exercise groups for those just starting out with counselors to help you. They have a lot of programs for seniors outside of exercise such as arts and crafts classes and with most of the supplemental insurances associated with Medicare there is no fee to join. This is a win-win situation for those coming from any economic background. I belong to the local YMCA and it is always nice to go there.

The whole idea behind staying mentally strong and active is to keep doing things. Keep moving, keep playing, keep reading, keep listening and talking, keep laughing, and absolutely stay healthy! Do things you enjoy, anything is fine, just do not stop doing.

Author Bio: Amanda Carlson, a blogger as well as a former newborn care nurse contributed this post. To stay connected to her previous career and share the knowledge she gained, she began writing for www.newborncare.com. You can reach her at amanda.newborncare @ gmail.com.

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