Watching our body (and especially our brain) fail us as we get older can very often be a painful and depressing. Over time, we can find ourselves becoming less able bodied, slower and older in our appearance as well.
But what is actually much worse than this, is noticing your brain start to fail you. Our brain is what houses who we are. Our brain is what gives rise to all of our subjective experiences… and seeing that start to deteriorate is very frightening indeed. I’m going through this very thing with my dad right now as he has an advanced state of dementia.
So the question is: how can you protect your brain into old age? Here are some strategies and suggestions that may be able to help…
One of the very most important things you can do for your brain is to keep learning and to keep subjecting yourself to different and exciting experiences. Our brains operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, just like every part of our biology. So if you are going through the exact same motions day in, day out, then you will find that your brain loses the ability to learn and adapt to changes the way it once did. That is one reason my wife and I like taking two or three cruises each year. We unpack once and wake up almost each morning in a new and different port. Now if we could just get our Doctor to prescribe it, we could take the expense off of our state taxes as healthcare costs!
The problem is that so many of us do stop subjecting ourselves to new experiences as we age. Partly this is due to simple societal pressures: when we age, we tend to become less active and less social, and this means we lose our opportunities for learning.
The key is to keep trying new things. Many blogs will tell you that playing chess is a good way to keep your brain healthy but in fact this isn’t necessarily the best option: playing chess is just one activity and involves relatively little learning. Once you learn it, the value of keeping your brain healthy by playing diminishes. So learn a new board game. Constant learning is one of the keys to brain health.
Instead, try computer games. Why? Because each time you try a new computer game, you are forced to take up new skills and new abilities. Each time you learn a new game, you need new controls, which will incorporate new neural pathways. Each new game has an entirely new set of skills and that means you are continually learning.
One of the very best things for our brains is to keep socializing. This is highly important, as social stimulation stimulates positive hormones and keeps our brain active and challenged. As we get older, often we start to keep ourselves locked away and stop going out so much. This means less social stimulation, which means rapid deterioration. Again, this is something to avoid.
More New Things to Expereince
Most people feel very comfortable with their daily routine. They know what will be taking place for the most part because it is so similar day after day. While it can feel comfortable to live like that, your brain may be on auto pilot for much of it. If you want your brain to be healthier then you need to start doing different things that vary from your daily routine. It can be as simple as taking a different route to get to work in the morning than you have for the past 7 years.
If you always read romance novels, pick up a good mystery and see how well you like it. You just might find that you have found a passion for something like this that you didn’t even know existed before. Turn your favorite radio station to a channel that plays another type of music for a week. In that span of time you may have a new found appreciation for it. You may have learned the lyrics to some top hits as well that are in heavy rotation on that radio station channel.
A chemical called dopamine is produced in the brain. This is a natural substance that helps with moods. The more dopamine you produce the happier you will be. Research has shown that when the brain is exposed to new images and new experiences that it will begin to make more dopamine. As a result the ability to retain information about such events both in the short term memory and the long term memory are improved upon.
You can offer yourself some new challenges as well. For example instead of renting the newest movie on the top ten list rent a documentary on a subject you aren’t familiar with. There will likely be a great deal of learning by the time you are done viewing it. You may have some questions as well that trigger your desire to find out more information about the subject.
New social experiences are a good idea too if you want a healthier brain. For example if you usually go to casual restaurants get dressed up and go out to one that is fancy. If you usually drive in the city, take a cab or ride the bus. Allow your mind and your eyes to take in everything around you including the people and the scenery. Since you won’t have to keep your eyes on the road, the brain is going to be more receptive to things you likely overlooked on that same commute before.
As we experience new things our brain is learning and it is processing. This awakens a part of it that may have been dormant for a long time based on your same old routine. You will also find that you look forward to each new day when you have some adventure to look towards. You can experience new things on a small scale at first to get yourself comfortable with it. Then you can move on to larger ones like traveling to a foreign country or learning a new language.
The fact that your brain can continue to change and to build new neurological paths is very interesting. Don’t waste the ability you have though to allow it to experience more than it has. Life is really too short to spend it doing the same things day after day. You will find you are happier overall when you add some adventures to your life.
If you would like to learn more about brain health, get my book Keep Your Brain Healthy. You can purchase it at: https://www.createspace.com/6815119. When your brain is operating at the highest level possible, if can improve EVERY single aspect of your entire life. This mean you have the opportunity to…
– Mold your brain in any way that you want
– Increase your intelligence
– And live your life to the fullest and get the most possible from your brain…
To get there, what you need is a way to improve your brain health and get results quickly… that’s why I’ve created this step-by-step guide to nurturing and nourishing your brain.