There are so many negative connotations with aging, but one of the worst is the belief that as you age, your mental potency fails. However, this doesn’t have to be true. There are some simple ways to stay sharp no matter your age.
Wondering how to keep your mind sharp as you age? Here are 13 actionable tips:
- Read More
- Learn Something New
- Practice Writing
- Keep Stress Under Control
- Sleep Enough
- Laugh Often
- Eat Healthy Food
- Play Games
- Enjoy Music
- Take Up a New Hobby
- Have Intercourse More Often
Boosting your brainpower as you age is not a difficult job if you know what to do. Let’s review all of these techniques for staying sharp, as well as how you can retain more memory on a daily basis.
1. Read More
A study done in 2013 found that reading is closely related to memory retention. Furthermore, a study done by the journal Neurology found that reading can reduce memory decline later in life by 32%. But not just that — reading has always been connected with stress relief and a better mental state. Reading forces you to imagine, and imagination trains your brain in visual memory.
In general, reading should be a daily activity. It doesn’t really matter what you read — fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or even news. Make sure it’s enjoyable, so you want to come back to it every day. For instance, you could read before sleep instead of watching TV or doing something on your phone — blue light hampers your sleep, while reading can help you sleep better.
Here are some tips to make your reading habit even more enjoyable:
- Start or join a book club
- Read to your grandchildren
- Don’t be afraid to abandon a book if you don’t like it
- Subscribe to a magazine
2. Learn Something New
Just like reading, learning is another activity that can boost your cognitive function and help you stay sharp.
However, most people learn less and less as they age. Change that and start investing a portion of your day into learning. It doesn’t have to be a big, complicated subject if that doesn’t make you happy. For example, you can learn a new language, take a writing course or a painting course.
Even video games can help — according to one study, they can help you get better at multitasking and solving problems. And another study found that being bilingual can delay dementia by four and a half years.
Find something that you are interested in and that you enjoy. In general, whichever activity requires you to learn something new can work — for instance, playing bridge or even gardening. As long as there’s something new for you in it, it’s perfect.
3. Practice Writing
The same study that found reading can boost your mental state found that writing helps too, and at the same rate. Expressing yourself through the written word is one of the best ways to stay sharp. It doesn’t really matter what you write, as long as you are engaged in that activity. However, it might be important that you write it by hand since scientists have found that handwriting is better than typing for brain activity.
In addition, handwriting boosts creativity — so, if you’re writing fiction, poetry, or anything that requires imagination, handwriting will help. Writing is also a relaxing activity that will help you reduce stress, especially if you write a journal.
Here are some suggestions on what you could write:
- Short stories
- A novel/novelette
- A memoir
- A journal
- Blog posts
Another key element to staying sharp is getting enough physical exercise. While the two may initially not seem connected, researchers have found that it supports the healthy state of the brain. Another study confirmed exercise could help people over 50 retain or improve cognitive function, while obesity has the opposite effect.
Working out doesn’t have to be a chore either — you can find a form of exercise that works best for you. This might depend on your possibilities or preferences. For example, there are mild forms of exercise that may work if you have some restrictive health issues. This includes yoga, tai chi, walking, or gentle running.
You can also take up some of the more strenuous forms like high-intensity training, boxing, or anything similar. Finally, there are fun group activities like Zumba, barre, dancing, etc. Pick the one that suits you.
Exercise also reduces stress and boosts positivity, which can be really important for your brain and quality of life in general.
Here are some other suggestions on what you could do:
- Tennis, badminton, table tennis
- Water aerobics or swimming
- Ballroom dancing or Latin dancing
- Fitness or pilates
Meditation is an ancient technique of calming your mind and staying present in the moment. However, it’s more than just a traditional practice — a Harvard University study found that meditation and mindfulness helped increase the gray cells in the brain. As a bonus, meditation isn’t hard to do, and you don’t have to do it for a very long time for it to work.
In fact, just doing it for ten minutes a day can improve your stress response and make you a more positive person. To do it, you just have to find a quiet place to sit or lay down and breathe. Focus on letting go of all your troubles and bringing the focus back to the present moment, especially the breathing.
It’s probably best for beginners to start with a morning meditation practice. It is way easier to meditate after waking up and it also increases the likelihood of consistency. If you decide to make meditation a habit, chances are higher that you will stick to it if you do it in the morning.
But you can also incorporate moments of mindfulness into everyday life situations too. For example, if you are doing something like washing dishes, focus on that activity without letting your mind wander. Bring your attention to the smells, the feeling on your skin, and the fluidity of movements. Apply the same to any everyday situation.
6. Keep Stress Under Control
Stress can destroy brain cells over time, making it more likely that you’ll experience a mental decline in older age. However, the effects of this can be remedied by keeping that stress in check. Naturally, no one can prevent stressful situations from happening, but it’s important that you respond properly to that.
For example, if a bill comes and that causes you to stress and spiral into overthinking, that would be a bad response. A good response would be to approach that problem constructively. Ask yourself whether that’s something you can solve — if it is, then it’s not a problem. Ask yourself whether there’s something you can do about it now — if not, then there’s no reason to overthink it.
To reduce stress, you can also get enough rest, complete things on time if you can, eat healthy, and exercise plenty.
But, there are also some techniques that can help you cope:
- When facing a stressful situation, ask yourself whether what’s happening can physically hurt you? Will you stay alive after it? The answer is probably going to be yes, but the important thing is that you’ll turn off that “fight or flight” response connected to stress.
- You can also focus on some immediate things. This is often called the rule of three’s. First, think about three sounds that you can hear. Then, focus on three things that you can see. And finally, three things that you can feel (physically, on your skin). This will bring you back to the present moment and reduce overthinking.
- Breathe. Take at least ten deep breaths, from the depth of your belly.
- Write your feelings down. This helps rationalize what you’re feeling, and it’s like telling someone without judgment.
- Listen to some relaxing music or sounds of nature.
- Always have smells that you like on hand. There are aromatherapy sticks that can help you relax, and you can carry them in your pocket or your bag.
7. Sleep Enough
Sleep is important since that’s when your memories and skills — anything new basically — transfers to the parts of the brain that hold permanent elements. However, most people nowadays don’t get nearly enough sleep. But this should be one of your main efforts if you want to stay sharp.
Pick a time to go to sleep and to wake up. They should be at least seven hours apart, and you should stay consistent with your sleeping patterns. Make sure that you stay away from any devices that emit blue light for at least two hours before sleep. Avoid drinking, smoking, drinking coffee, or eating heavily for at least a few hours before sleep.
8. Laugh Often
Laughing and positivity are well-known for their power in keeping people healthy in more ways than one. Just like stress has damaging effects on your psyche, positivity has the opposite effect. For one, it can relax you — but it can also make your life longer, according to a study done in Norway.
To boost the amount of laughter you get, let it into your life.
- Spend time with people you know are funny and cheerful.
- Watch comedy movies or shows instead of heavy ones.
- Laugh at yourself, even if you’re alone.
- Read jokes.
- You can even start laughing just because and this can turn into real laughter.
And since you don’t always have the luxury to have someone to share your laugh with, here are 23 other ways to have (proper) fun when you are alone.
Find joy and things that make you happy every day. Avoid negativity or negative people. Think about the things that you are grateful for, even if they are really simple and seemingly stupid.
9. Eat Healthy Food
Certain foods have a positive effect on the brain. And fortunately, all of it is tasty.
- Eat plenty of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.
- Eat nuts, seeds, and beans like walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, and soybeans.
- Reduce the amount of calories you intake — bad fats, empty calories, sweets, carbonated drinks, etc.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables — the more colorful, the better.
- Drink an occasional glass of wine — but not too much.
- Eat things with cocoa in them — chocolate, chocolate drinks, etc.
- Introduce some curcumin into your diet.
10. Play Games
Sometimes being a bit childish can be the right thing for you. So, consider doing some things children often do — play and color.
For one, coloring or drawing can have great effects in boosting brain function — similarly to the effect of writing. You can now buy coloring books for grownups that induce relaxation and reduce the amount of stress in your life.
Furthermore, games can be an excellent way to keep your brain functioning well and retain your memory. Here are some games that you play:
11. Enjoy Music
Whether you opt to learn to play an instrument or just listen, this is a great activity to boost your brain. A study has found that music has a unique, cognitive-boosting effect in older adults. So, instead of watching TV, play some music that you like. Fill your home with music when you’re cleaning, reading, or doing anything similar.
Music can also reduce stress, make you more positive and happier. You can easily find music lessons online, and it’s even easier to find if you just want to listen.
12. Take Up a New Hobby
Hobbies are an excellent — and fun — way to boost your brain and stay sharp. It’s best if those hobbies involve your hands — like playing music, writing or making things — but any type of hobby will do.
Aside from being good for your brain, it can help you with stress and make you happier, so you should definitely consider it. Hobbies often involve learning in the beginning, so you can combine several of these tips into one.
Here are some hobbies you can consider:
- Knitting or sewing
- Making jewelry or any other crafts
13. Have Intercourse More Often
Frequent intercourse has proven benefits for our physical health, but did you know that it can also make you smarter? Researchers have found that having intercourse or even thinking about your past sexual experiences can make your thinking more analytical. They also found that climaxing activates your entire brain, as opposed to some other activities.
Aside from that, it can also make you more confident, relax you, and reduce anxiety, as well as make you have a more positive attitude. Furthermore, even basic intimacy with your partner can help you retain memory and feel better in general.
If you’re looking for more reasons to partake in this activity, research has also concluded that it can make you look and feel younger.
Quick Tips To Retain Memory With Ease
Aside from long-term changes you can make, there are also some things you can do on a daily basis to improve your memory and mental sharpness. Here are just some of them:
Use all of your senses.
When doing something, try to use as many of your senses as possible. For instance, if you’re gardening, focus on the smell of the grass and soil, the feel of earth between your fingers, the colors, the sounds — everything. This means practicing mindfulness, and it’s worth noting again simply because of the tremendous effect it can have on your health.
One of the best things you can do to improve your memory is to pay close attention when you are reading something or listening to something. We live in a world full of distractions, and we are used to skimming over things or only half-listening. Instead, try fully focusing. You will remember more and learn more.
Connect new information to something you already know.
Another amazing trick to learn anything new is to connect it with something you know. Whenever you learn about something new, think about how it relates to some former information you have heard. You’ll be able to remember and recall a lot more this way.
Mnemonics are a fun way to remember things. There are several ways to do this. For one, you can make acronyms — just remember the first letter of every word of what you need to remember. You can also make a memorable sentence out of those first letters.
Repeat new information.
When you learn something new, you can also repeat it later to make sure that you have memorized it. This is similar to how students learn, but it’s useful at any age since it doesn’t take a lot of work, and it can become a habit quickly.
Write it down.
This is another way that students learn, but again — just as useful for anyone. When you need to memorize something, just write it down. It can help you remember it and retain that knowledge for later. You can also highlight it with some color markers if you are a visual learner, and you’ll remember easily.
To understand something better, put it in a context you understand.
Another helpful technique, this one can assist in understanding, and thus in learning. Flowery language often hampers learning, and simple words are easier to remember.
Avoid using technology to solve basic problems.
We rely so much on technology that we have lost the ability to solve the most basic problems without it. For example, we stopped using maps or doing math without a calculator. If you want to boost your memory and brainpower, turn to the old ways and use a paper map, calculate in your mind, use a paper calendar, write letters, etc.
Staying sharp throughout your life is not an unattainable goal. You can do it by applying these tips and making sure that you have a healthy lifestyle. In addition, spend time with positive people and communicate with others a lot. You should also dedicate an hour of your day to doing something brain-boosting: reading, writing, playing a game, exercising, etc. Of course, the more of these tips you apply, the better.
Above all, be confident and love yourself. Aging comes with so many prejudices, but it’s a beautiful process of fully accepting yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything or discredit you based on your age.
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