9 ways to get the most out of your mind
You'd be surprised at how easy it is to keep your brain active and in its best shape for as long as possible, even when you're old. These easy steps are already a part of your daily life. It's just a matter of fine-tuning them correctly to get the most out of them for yourself.
1. Keep Learning
Research has shown that the more education you have the higher your cognitive reserve will be, which means your mental function will not wane so easily. However, Dr. Joe Verghese, professor of neurology and medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine says that more highly educated people may get Alzheimer's at a later age and at a faster rate.
2. Do A Crossword
Mentally stimulating activities, like crossword puzzles, reading or playing music, have been found to delay the memory decline of people who eventually develop dementia. It works as a form of exercise for the brain. Dr Verghese conducted a study of 488 adults over the age of 75. The results showed that for every cognitively active day, dementia was delayed by about two months.
3. Ignore Negativity
Negativity that stems from being anxious about falling into a negative stereotype aimed at one's social group or belief system can hinder the performance of middle-aged and older people on memory tests. However, positive stereotypes or success can help to fight this. Laughter also helps to improve your memory. So the next time you watch a comedy that makes you laugh, just remember that it's helping your mind.
4. Use All Of Your Senses
Studies, often from marketing research, have shown that involving multiple senses, like the picture of a flower with a floral scent, enhances people's ability to memorize what their senses are taking in.
While many studies have found an association between social support and better cognitive functioning, it's hard to tell which one causes the other. A 2008 study on retired people showed that memory among people who didn't socialise much declined twice as much as in people who were most socially integrated. Researchers have suggested that socializing may help our minds because it encourages people to take better care of themselves, reduces stress and releases beneficial neurohormones, stemming from the emotions usually caused by being with loved ones.
6. Don't Multitask
Contrary to what many people believe, science generally shows that splitting our attention is more problematic than productive. A study looking at the working memory, the storage of information, had younger and older adults perform recognition tests with or without interruptions. They found that adults of all ages get sidetracked by distractions but that older adults have a harder time refocusing after they've been distracted.
7. Spaced Interval Repetition
SIR is a learning technique that uses repeated testing over increasing intervals until whatever you're trying to memorize finally sticks. So you test yourself a lot at first, then less and less over time. It sounds really basic but SIR gets the most out of your memory. There's a reason there are so many new smartphone apps that follow this technique.
The hippocampus, the part of the brain critical to the formation of long-term memory, typically shrinks as we age, which can contribute to memory impairment and dementia. Exercising may actually reverse this shrinking. One study found that exercise increased the hippocampus volume by an amount equal to what older people lose in one to two years. According to Dr Verghese, exercise improves blood flow to the brain and it also stimulates production of nerve growth factors. Even just six minutes of exercise post-learning can help boost memory.
9. Eat Right
There is a direct relationship between what we eat and how our brains function. High sugar diets and being over weight may cause mental problems in the long run. If staying away from sugar is difficult then consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, walnuts and soybeans, may help counter sugar's brain drain.