With the modern way of our lives, stress has become a daily part of it. This means that there would be more stress on the brain as well which can lead to an early metal decline. This decline in mental health is a part and parcel of aging. But with excessive stress this process becomes even faster.
If not taken into consideration early on, it can lead some pretty nasty mental ailments at the later stages in life. For example, the much dreaded Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some tips which can help keep your brain healthy and delay the effects of aging considerably.
Get Mental Stimulation
Through research with mice and humans, doctors speculate that activities requiring ample use of the brain stimulate the growth of new connections between neurons and may even help the brain to generate new cells which can lead to neurological ‘plasticity’ and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.
Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try “mental gymnastics,” such as word puzzles or math problems Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.
Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body. Here are some specifics:
a) Keep your calories in check. In both animals and humans, a reduced caloric intake has been linked to a lower risk of mental decline in old age.
b) Eat the right foods. That means reducing your consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol from animal sources and of trans-fatty acids from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
c) Remember your Bs. Three B vitamins, folic acid, B6, and B12, can help lower your homocysteine levels. High levels of which have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Fortified cereal, other grains, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of B vitamin.
Learn Something New
Mastering a new language or musical instrument helps you develop new neural pathways. It can challenge your brain to expand, and will promote better brain health. To challenge your mind, choose an instrument that you’re completely unfamiliar with, or a language that’s vastly different from your native language. Music and languages both challenge your concentration, memory, and focus.
Do Physical Exercise
Research shows that using your muscles may also help your mind. Animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses). This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance in aging animals. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, fights diabetes, and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.
Stay Socially Active
Staying socially active is a critical component of ongoing brain and general health. A social group gives you a sense of purpose and emotional support in your day-to-day life. Stay connected and socialise with people from all backgrounds, and have stimulating conversations about different topics and interests. This will keep your brain challenged, and keep you aware of new fields and areas of enquiry.
A group of Harvard neuroscientists was interested in mindfulness meditation. Because it had reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being that extended beyond the time the individual was actually meditating.
To see if mindfulness training had any measurable effect on the brain, 17 people were enrolled in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. The course promised to improve participants’ mindfulness and well-being, and reduce their levels of stress.
MRI scans of the people’s brains taken before and after they completed the meditation course. A control group who didn’t do any mindfulness training also had their brains scanned.
After the people completed the mindfulness course they all reported significant improvement in measures of mindfulness such as ‘acting with awareness’ and ‘non-judging’.