Your mind can stay sharp and healthy throughout your lifetime with activities that stimulate your brain, even everyday tasks. So with that in mind (pardon the pun), here are eight excellent ways to achieve cognitive health (the ability to think, learn, and remember) and a better quality of life.
1. Get enough sleep
There is a strong connection between the mind and the body, as you’ll see in most of these tips. This includes making sure you get enough sleep, which allows the brain time to recover and recharge from your daily activities. Some of the benefits include improved mood, memory and productivity, and reduced stress levels. Check out our blog to learn how to sleep better.
2. Be eternally curious and keep learning
Cultivate a curious mindset by asking questions, seeking out new experiences, and exploring subjects that interest you. No matter what level of education you have, continual learning is associated with good mental function as we age. When we learn, our memories stay strong and being mentally active becomes a habit. These days it’s easy to challenge your brain because there are so many apps like Luminosity, CogniFit and NeuroNation available that provide mental stimulation. And if apps aren’t your thing, try a new hobby or do some volunteer work to help keep your mind sharp.
3. Read lots and often
Reading exposes you to new ideas and vocabulary, enhancing your language skills and cognitive abilities. It encourages your imagination to create vivid mental images of settings, characters, and events described in the text. This can stimulate your own creativity and imaginative thinking.
4. Physical exercise
Regular physical activity improves blood flow to the brain and releases neurotransmitters that support cognitive function. Activities such as walking, jogging, yoga, and swimming can benefit both your body and mind. Staying active also helps with deep brain stimulation and the production of certain hormones in the brain that help to improve your mood, decrease stress, and enhance focus, which all help keep your mind sharp and sustained throughout your lifetime.
5. Follow a diet for your brain
A healthy diet promotes a healthy brain, which in turn improves your mind’s overall quality. You should incorporate plenty of leafy green vegetables, fruit, and fish in your diet. Nuts are a good in-between snack, and baking or grilling are much better options than frying. A mindful diet with good food choices helps nourish your body and protects your brain from illnesses caused by an unhealthy diet.
6. Social activities
Engaging with others not only benefits your mental health - but also your overall cognition. Socialisation stimulates the brain, develops critical thinking skills and broadens your understanding of the world as you interact with people with different ideas, concepts and backgrounds.
7. Games are helpful
Games involve lots of stimulation for the brain, especially games that need logical thinking to play. As you play, you enhance the parts of your brain responsible for planning, movement, and memory. Chess, puzzles, sudoku, and even video games that require creating a strategy, can contribute to better cognitive functions. Competitive gaming may also encourage you to have deep brain stimulation if you incorporate more analytical approaches to win the game.
8. Get out of your comfort zone occasionally
As we get older, we tend to stick to the things we’re familiar with. Because of this, you increase the chance of your brain deteriorating as it will become familiar with mental shortcuts instead of the stimulation it needs to stay active. So ditch the comfortable things and try something different. Go somewhere you’ve never been, join a Toastmasters group or start a new activity that you’ve never done before – it all promotes a more active mind.
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