Can't remember where you parked the car at the mall? Feel like slipping into a depression is easier than it used to be? No, you're not losing your mind. But as you age, it is possible to experience a decline in your memory and general brain health. It may not respond or rebound as quickly as it used to. But that doesn't mean you can't do something about it.
No matter what your age, learning new things, exposing yourself to new experiences and meeting new people can all help keep your brain in tip-top shape. From improved memory to greater mental sharpness to preserving your emotional health, taking care of your brain is a smart idea. Here are a few ways to keep your grey matter in shape.
THINK BACKWARD (OR UPSIDE DOWN). Research shows that challenging yourself with small changes such as eating with your "wrong" hand, hanging a familiar picture upside down or simply wearing your watch on the opposite wrist for a day can help reduce memory loss.
GET A MOVE ON. Evidence shows that regular exercise can help boost your brain power by preserving brain tissue and helping increase the number of synapses in your brain.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Crosswords, word and math puzzles, and even trying to master a new skill such as painting, playing the violin or speaking Portuguese can help stretch your mind.
MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS. Meeting new people, whether through a book group, part-time job or volunteering can keep your brain sharper. Social isolation can lead to depression. Studying your family history or writing your own personal history can also lead to some interesting and engaging social interactions.
CALL IT QUITS. According to research, smoking can increase the decline of your mental health, so if you haven't already kicked the habit, now is the time.
CALM DOWN. You've heard that stress is bad for your heart health, but too much stress can also take a toll on your mind. So can multitasking. Try to concentrate on one task at a time. Stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga and exercise can help keep your mind from feeling overwhelmed.
If you do feel your memory slipping a bit, there are some easy techniques you can use to help remember faces and places. For some tips on memory aids, click here. If you're concerned that your memory loss or mental decline may be the sign of something more serious, see your doctor. For a referral to a physician on the Baylor Dallas medical staff, click here.