It keeps your mind sharp!
People who regularly (notice that’s not “every now and then”) engage in mentally challenging activities are much less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. If that’s not incentive enough, I don’t think anything will be. Preventing dementia, including its scariest form, Alzheimer’s Disease, should be at the top of everyone’s list.
Below are just a few ways to challenge your brain and give it the workout that it craves.
- Read more. Whether you take up reading historical non-fiction or Agatha Christie mysteries (my two personal favorite types of books), read twice as much as you normally do. Newspapers, educational magazines, and even educational websites all count as well. Just read twice as much as you normally read and, whenever possible, “stretch” your brain cells further by reading about subjects that are new to you. If you don’t normally read about cooking – devour as many culinary articles as possible. If history isn’t something you’re familiar with, research historical events or individuals that are interesting to you.
- Listen to the podcasts. Some podcasts can be mentally stimulating. Whether they’re sermons by Dr. Tony Evans or podcasts relating to your field of work or interest, listen and take notes.
- Play a game. Scrabble, Trivia Pursuit, Monopoly, Life… they’re all mentally stimulating and (especially if you haven’t played them in a while) can stretch your brain. Learning a NEW game is even more effective. Did you know that the brain actually loves video games? The trick is not to take one activity and obsess over it. Your brain needs variety – not the same thing day in/day out. That’s actually the danger zone. Let your code words be variety and challenge.
- Visit more historical sites, battlefields, and museums. Read the literature, observe the scenery, and take it all in. There’s a huge, fascinating world out there – broaden your horizons and stretch your mind.
- Tackle Genealogy. Exploring your family history isn’t just exciting and fun, it’s mentally challenging – which is what we’re after. Read up on the subject with a great book like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy, then put on your detective’s cap. It’s more rewarding than you can imagine.
- Throw “Plot Twists” to Your Brain! It may seem unusual, but our minds LOVE to be caught off guard – and when they’re caught off guard, they’re stimulated and challenged. These plot twists can be things like taking a different route to work or the store, using your other hand to eat, closing your eyes when you navigate around the room (just be careful, please, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am), etc. Even something as small as brushing your teeth with your other hand gets your brain cells’ attention.
- Challenge Your Senses. Researchers at Duke University created exercises they call “neurobics,” which challenge your brain to think in new ways. The concept is that, since your senses dictate our brain’s activities, mixing things up with your senses can stimulate your brain. With this in mind, use each of your senses when you perform the “plot twists” mentioned above. Here’s a fun little exercise – the next time you’re in a store, head for the candles aisle. Without looking on the label, try to determine a candle’s scent. You’ll find that it’s a little more challenging than you think! You can challenge your taste sense by guessing jellybean flavors or trying to decode the ingredients in a dish.
- Be Sure You Get Enough Activity. It doesn’t have to be jogging or workouts at the gym, any physical activity increases the blood supply to the brain and improves activity between brain cells. Your brain doesn’t know if you’re moving because you’re doing housework or because you’re on the track – all it knows is that you are in fact moving and it likes it.
- Eat Brain-Healthy Food. One rule of thumb is this: If the food is healthy for your heart, it’s healthy for your brain. Some general guidelines – Grill or bake food instead of frying it, eat more colorful vegetables and fruit, have fish more often (several times a week), add nuts to your diet (the brain loves walnuts)…
- DEAL WITH STRESS in a healthy way. I’m actually working on an article on this very subject which I should have published today or tomorrow. Research is showing that stress and anxiety are devastating to our brains. Finding a way to relax and handle stress does more than protect your quality of life, it will protect your length of life and it will help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Be Sure to Get Enough Sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. We’ve become such a goal-oriented, “get it done” society that we’re overlooking one vital necessity – a great night’s sleep.
Make each moment count!