As you age, it might seem more challenging to stay sharp. You may find your memory starting to decline, or just not feeling as mentally alert as you used to be. Although this might seem unsettling at first, this is a completely natural part of aging. But for some, this can be harder to deal with. While it might seem stressful at first to feel this way or to feel like your memory is just not quite what it used to be, there are some ways to counteract this. By developing some simple habits, and taking time out to learn and grow, you can stay mentally sharp. Here are some ways to make that happen.
1. Learn something new
One of the best ways to keep your memory sharp and keep yourself alert is by learning something new. There is a lot of scientific evidence to show that developing new skills and hobbies can help improve cognitive function, keeps your brain healthy and also keeps you motivated. By picking up hobbies that are new and require ongoing practice, you can train your brain to improve.
You can start with something simple, like maybe a language you’ve always wanted to learn or take a class on a subject you’d like. Some people pick up other hobbies, such as art or music. You can check with your local community college to see if they offer senior discounts and take some introductory classes there.
2. Make time to read
Reading is an important hobby that can help you keep sharp but also keep you entertained. A recent study at Yale found that people who read more than 3.5 hours a week had a 23% less chance of death compared to other participants who read less. Reading also helps you develop important traits such as empathy and emotional intelligence.
If reading is not necessarily your thing though, or you find it difficult, you can always try audiobooks. Or think of other ways you can access and learn new information. Youtube videos are a good source, as are podcasts - these are different kinds of online content that are free but are also educational.
3. Keep moving
While brain puzzles and word teasers are all great challenges, those aren’t the only ways to keep your brain sharp - keeping your body healthy is just as important. Cardiovascular activity isn’t just important for your physical health, but it keeps your mind healthy too. Plenty of studies have demonstrated the connection between higher brain health and regular exercise, and this is becoming more prominent. One study found that middle-aged adults who exercised were 40% less likely to develop memory issues compared to peers who did not exercise as at all. If you aren’t sure what kind of activity to try, why not try a senior exercise class? Or you could go for something low impact such as cycling to start off.
Ultimately, keeping a sharp mind is about putting aside time for yourself to practice some of these tricks. Setting a small goal towards this can help. Rather than sticking to hard and fast timelines (i.e. I will maintain this habit for the year), break it into baby steps. Start by trying to add time for yourself everyday for two weeks, and then work your way up with one of these tips. This allows you to keep mentally sharp, develop better habits while still staying motivated by working towards a realistic goal.