|Posted on October 3, 2013 at 12:30 AM|
We all want excellent brain health, right?! In many ways, the brain is like a muscle and the term “use it or lose it” very much applies to optimizing brain health, especially as we age. The following wellness suggestions are intended to stimulate cognitive health and help individuals be their best selves in everyday life.
Live a Healthy Life. What’s good for your heart is good for your brain! If quality of life is high then people are feeling better and functioning better, so, it’s important to work on having a healthy and positive lifestyle.
Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise can assist with maintaining cognitive health and preventing decline with age. Check with your doctor about appropriate physical activity that takes into account an individual’s medical history. There are many enjoyable low impact activities including yoga, tai chi, walking groups, etc. than can be found in your local community.
Nutrition and Diet
Talk to your doctor about diet and nutrition options that are best for you. Generally, a Mediterranean diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limiting unhealthy fats has been associated with lowering risk for diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes than that increase the risk for cognitive decline with age.
Get your Zzzzzz
Sleep well! Getting a good night of sleep each night is important for clear cognitive functioning during the day. Establish a regular sleep schedule and avoid “dozing” during the day. Increasing daytime activity can help promote better sleep during the night.
Meaningful Mentally Stimulating Activity
Meaningful activities are things that an individual enjoys that make their heart sing, puts them in “the zone”, and helps them feel great! This can include things like “brain games”. While there is no strong evidence that crossword puzzles or Sudoku are scientifically beneficial, if a person likes them, then they should do them! Try something new, or revisit an old hobby. If you feel challenged by finding meaningful activities, then consult with a clinician such as a psychologist, social worker, physician, or just talk to friends or family to get ideas. Some suggestions include:
- participating in the creative arts such as a dance movement group or dance class, a painting class, or singing in a chorus
- joining a gardening club or group at a local garden
- reading or joining a book club
- attending learning groups or programs at local museums or community centers
Meaningful social relationships and social support has been shown in some studies to enhance neural functioning. This may include things like scheduling weekly lunch dates with friends or family and attending activity groups in the community. Regular social activity is recommended!
Keep mood up and minimize stress. There are many negative impacts of stress on the brain, mood, and cognition. Spirituality and a sense of feeling grounded and connected to something important can also help maintain a sense of wellness. Talk to your doctor about professional support for emotions and coping with stress.