How to Keep Your Brain Active
As we age, we may find that our brains are not as sharp as they were when we were young. Age Associated Memory Impairment (AAMI) is the first step in the spectrum of cognitive decline and is characterized by subjective memory loss. So, you may find yourself wishing your brain would remember more about your childhood or young adult life.
The good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to counter the process of cognitive decline. Five suggestions to maintaining a healthy brain include remaining mentally active, avoiding unnecessary stress, remaining physically active, avoiding head trauma and finding a sense of spirituality.
Stay mentally active
Remaining mentally active is one of the most important steps that you can take in order to counter cognitive decline. Be sure to build your brain reserve by getting a good education—the more education, the better! Your brain reserve is the foundation for remaining mentally active, so commit yourself to being a lifelong learner. Maintain your brain reserve by participating in activities that will continue to stretch your brain—try a new recipe, learn to play an instrument, read a book, challenge your friend to a game of chess or cards, fill out the day’s crossword puzzle or Sudoku.
Avoid unnecessary stress
Another important suggestion for maintaining a healthy brain is avoiding unnecessary stress. If you find yourself regularly feeling angry, guilty or resentful, you may need to consider the AAA approach to personal and caregiver stress. The AAA approach calls for you to be aware, acknowledge and act on the stress that you are feeling. By taking the AAA approach, you will become familiar with your own personality and body. You will begin recognizing how to adapt to a stressful situation, learn how to choose your battles wisely, learn to move on and, most importantly, avoid unnecessary stress.
Keep up the activity
Your body also needs to remain physically active in order to avoid cognitive decline. Find a workout routine that fits your schedule and that you enjoy—if it’s fun, you are more likely to stick with it! Four hours of light exercise a week is all you need to maintain a healthy brain.
The physical health of the brain extends into areas of general health as well—what is good for the heart is good for the brain. Minimizing cardiovascular problems and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels will keep your brain healthy. Taking care of your brain also requires avoiding any excess head trauma, so be sure to wear a seat belt when driving and to wear a helmet when you are on a bicycle.
Maintain balance of spirituality and social well-being
Finally, finding a sense of spirituality can contribute greatly to your brain’s emotional and social well being. Spirituality can provide you with a sense of purpose and a community of people to be challenged by and grow with.
Take some time to figure out which of these methods work for you so that you can maintain a healthy and active brain!
By: Malcolm Stewart, M.D.