In our society of "youth worship", anything purporting to extend one's youth is gratefully and eagerly snatched up by most Americans. Somehow we are more likely to try a new lotion or cream or even surgical procedure to create the outer appearance of youth rather than to make changes in our daily lifestyle which will actually keep our bodies and minds more youthful. Study after study suggests that the best way to really extend our youth is to make changes in our daily living habits. These changes can help us to stay younger mentally as well as physically.
There are a number of strategies we can use intentionally to decrease the occurrences of "senior moments", those times when we experience forgetfulness and are reminded of the fact that our brains are not as young as they once were. These are not new strategies, but they are based on negating some of the factors that contribute to forgetfulness, such as fatigue, stress, depression, poor health, and side effects of some medications.
Here are 10 beginning suggestions for intentionally keeping one's mind sharp.
- Exercise regularly. exercise increases blood flow and provides oxygen, glucose, and nutrients to the brain. Read this and this.
- Eat a healthy diet. The magnesium in dark green veggies helps maintain memory. Read this and this.
- Learn something new. How about learning a language? See the link to a Spanish Learning Blog on my sidebar. Maybe you could learn to play the piano by ear? Learn html code to create a better blog?
- Get enough sleep. Anecdotal evidence shows that this is especially important in helping keep NEW knowledge in the memory. Read more here.
- Devise strategies for remembering. Draw diagrams, take notes, underline passages, use mnemonic devices.
- Socialize. Conversation has been shown to help maintain brain function.
- Get organized. Make checklists for common activities; have a regular place for storing certain objects; form habits so that procedures are routine.
- Turn off the TV. Some experts say that TV watching decreases brain power. Read this Johns Hopkins article.
- Write it down. Writing transfers items from short to long-term memory. Even if you never need to refer to the written reminder, the act of writing helps you remember the information. (This is why note-taking is so important in school.)
- Solve brainteasers. Do puzzles, play card games, etc. These help improve memory. Play concentration, pinball, pool, chess, checkers, scrabble, crossword puzzles. There are numerous sites on the internet for these.
Making even just one change could help. As Nike is famous for saying, JUST DO IT.
- Read this good article, published 3/11/2004 in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, for some addition information and suggestions for fighting forgetfulness.
- Check out this Readers Digest article on How to Remain Mentally Alert.
- A great site on the internet for memory-building is Happy Neuron.
- Some good books on this subject: The Memory Workbook by Douglas Mason and Michael Kohn; Improving Your Memory by Janet Fogler and Lynn Stern; and Total Recall by Joan Minninger. All of these books can be found at Amazon.com.
- Googling the words "improving memory" will bring up numerous helpful articles and activities.
- Other sources used for this post: Emory University, Alzheimer's Association, Memory Fitness Institute.