Do shorter days and colder temperatures make you want to go into hibernation mode? Unlike bears, our minds and bodies benefit from staying sharp and active throughout the winter months—especially as we age. Try these seven simple strategies and activities to boost your brain.
1) Have a conversation. Engaging in meaningful conversation is a great way to keep your mind sharp—especially giving and receiving opinions, discussing current events and talking about what’s important to you. In fact, it’s also been shown to exercise memory and judgment and improve self-esteem.
2) Switch it up. Your brain gets used to doing everyday activities in the same way; changing your way of doing things forces your brain to forge new pathways. Try using your opposite hand to brush your teeth, for example, or close your eyes while tying your shoes.
3) Record your memoirs. Winter is a great time to embark on a project to record memories, events from your life, or even a longer, more linear memoir. You can use pen and paper, a digital recorder or even a scrapbook and some old photos. Doing this not only improves cognitive skills and executive brain functioning, it’s a wonderful present to share with your family.
4) Try a new hobby. Since you’re probably spending more time indoors, challenge your brain with a new hobby such as learning a new cuisine, painting, photography, woodworking, or taking up an instrument—all require fine motor-skill coordination and are proven brain boosters.
5) Exercise. It doesn’t just keep your body healthy, but is thought to also increase blood flow to the brain. Beyond that, studies show that exercise has also been shown to have benefits for improving memory and thinking.
6) Believe in yourself. Research shows that older learners don’t do as well on memory exercises when they were shown negative stereotypes on how aging equates to a poor memory. Conversely, when they were exposed to positive messages, their memory task scores improved. Translation? If you believe you can maintain and even improve your memory, you’re more likely to work at keeping your mind sharp.
FitMinds® is one of Chartwell’s most popular life enrichment programs, as the intellectual activity is devoted to enhancing and supporting the overall brain health of residents. To learn more about the program, as well as the many other activities and events available in Chartwell residences, click here.