May - Jun 2017

Simple Steps to Manage Your Brain

By Robert J. Kelly, Jr, MD

 

Imagine how much happier your life would be if you never forgot anything important. Aging doesn’t have to mean bad things for your brain. In fact, some of the same healthy habits that keep your body fit can also help to keep your mind in great shape. Implementing a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating right, exercising, and adequate sleep is very important, but instituting mental challenges in your daily routine will boost your brain power. Fortunately, based on memory research, all you need are a few simple steps to challenge your brain and keep your mind sharp and healthy.

 

Step 1:  Stay social. Social interaction has been proven to stimulate the brain not only through shared experiences and introduction of new ideas, but also by alleviating stress and loneliness. Different ways to interact include direct contact with other individuals or groups, phone calls, emails, online chats, and even letter writing. By engaging others, we strengthen our brain, improve our mood, and reduce our overall stress.

 

Step 2:  Never stop learning. While you may or may not be in school, learning should be considered a lifelong process. Challenge yourself to pick up a new hobby, learn a different language or simply read a new book. Stimulating the brain with new information is like putting your body through a strenuous workout. Learning not only enhances your brain’s health, but also your knowledge.

 

Step 3:  Relax. Your brain gets tired too. Reducing the amount of stress and pressure in your life helps to keep your brain healthy. Prayer and meditation, being positive and simply having fun help to combat the strain of everyday life. Keeping an optimistic attitude and getting plenty of sleep are also simple measures to strengthen one’s mind.

 

Remember, mental challenges stimulate the brain, which further enhances the body’s well-being. But, don’t be discouraged by an occasional memory slip. After all, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Just like a muscle needs to be used, or it may atrophy, the brain functions in a similar way. You use it or lose it.