13 Simple Ways To Stay Mentally Sharp

Written by LVMC on

Practicing certain healthy behaviors can effectively stimulate the brain and reduce the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Practicing certain healthy behaviors can effectively stimulate the brain and reduce the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercising your brain is just as vital for your overall health and well-being as exercising your body. Keeping your mind sharp, especially as you grow older, can reduce your risk for memory problems and dementia. It can also make your life happier and more fulfilling.

Here are 13 simple ways to stay mentally sharp and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center if you think you may need help improving your brain health.

1. Keep Learning New Things

Continuing your education and learning new things can strengthen connections in your brain. It can also improve your memory function and the health of your brain cells.

Devote time daily to learning about a new topic or acquiring a new skill. Embark on new projects that can teach you new things in the long term, such as gardening. Another bonus to learning new things includes interesting things to share and talk about with your friends and family.

2. Start Reading More Often

Reading consistently also strengthens connections in your brain. It can improve your memory and concentration. It can also reduce stress, help you relax, and lower your risk for dementia.

Increase the amount of time you spend reading every day. Pick up books or magazines on topics you enjoy. Subscribe to apps on your phone that tailor news and magazine articles to your interests.

Here are other fun ways to include reading in your daily lifestyle:

  • Join or start a book club.
  • Read to your grandchildren.
  • Read at night to relax before bedtime.
  • Visit the library regularly.
  • Swap books with friends and relatives.
  • Start something new if you don’t enjoy what you’re reading.

3. Get Into Writing

Writing is another brain exercise that can keep your mind stimulated and improve your memory. Start a diary or journal, or write emails to your friends and relatives to tell them what you’ve been up to. You could also write and send handwritten letters and cards.

If you have a particular interest or hobby, consider starting a blog dedicated to various topics about that hobby. Or, if you have a creative side, write poetry or short stories. Look for creative writing prompts online that can stimulate your creativity and brain.

4. Learn a New Language

Learning a new language can be incredibly exciting, especially if you enjoy traveling. According to Middlebury Language Schools, learning a new language pushes your brain to familiarize itself with new vocabulary and grammar rules. It also trains your memory to remember new words and use them in the right situations.

There are plenty of apps for your smartphone and tablet that can teach you a foreign language. If you’d rather learn a new language alongside classmates, sign up for a class at a college or local community center. Then, try to put your skills to good use by traveling to a destination where the language is spoken by its natives.

5. Improve Your Posture

Having good posture allows you to maintain good blood flow and circulation to the brain. Your posture can play a critical role in your risk for dementia.

Work on improving your posture as needed. Your doctor can evaluate your posture and discuss ways to improve it. This may involve changing your sleep position to lie on your side or back. It may also involve losing excess weight to reduce stress on your muscles or practicing yoga to improve your balance.

Other things you can do to improve your posture include:

  • Doing ab exercises can help support your spine.
  • Adjusting your TV and computer screen, so they are level with your head.
  • Taking frequent breaks to move and stretch your neck when using your smartphone or tablet.
  • Wearing high heels less often, as they may cause you to over-arch your back.
  • Using ergonomic workstations and chairs that can be adjusted.
  • Adjusting your car seat, so it doesn’t recline back as far.

6. Play Games

Nearly every game can stimulate and sharpen your mind, whether it’s a card game, board game, or app game on your device. Some favorites are chess, charades, Scrabble, and trivia games.

Consider hosting a game night at least once a week in your home, and have someone choose or bring a new game each time. You can also install brain-training apps and games on your mobile device that are scientifically proven to sharpen your brain and prevent dementia. Elevate, and Luminosity are among the most popular apps people use to stimulate their minds.

7. Try New Hobbies

Hobbies can stimulate your brain, reduce boredom, and give you a sense of purpose if you feel as though you’re stuck in a rut. Taking up new hobbies is a form of continued education that can keep you busy and sharp.

There is countless hobbies you can get into—your possibilities are endless. Some popular hobbies include photography, sewing, cooking, and carpentry. Many sports are also considered hobbies, such as golf, fishing, and hiking. Browse local hobby stores for inspiration, or look for clubs and meetups in your area that align with your interests.

8. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to increase blood flow to your brain. It offers a wide range of other health benefits as well. Exercising outdoors is often better than exercising outdoors, as it exposes you to the elements and requires you to be more alert. People who stay active are found to be at a significantly lower risk for dementia than those who aren’t active.

Add exercise to your daily routine, even if it’s a small amount. Take daily walks, weekend hikes, or join a water aerobics class. You can also try to organize activities with your friends and family, such as flag football, Frisbee, and badminton.

9. Listen To Music

Music is mentally stimulating and is shown to enhance your memory, reduce stress, and improve your overall cognition. Certain songs and melodies may also help you retrieve memories you may have long forgotten. According to a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, music is a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and can improve symptoms of dementia.

Expose yourself frequently to music, even if it’s playing at a low volume in the background as you cook, read, or take a nap. Instead of listening to radio stations that air plenty of ads, consider signing up for a subscription with apps like Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube. These apps are available on many devices—including smart TVs—so they can conveniently be accessed at any time.

10. Manage Your Health Conditions

Certain health conditions can increase your risk for dementia, especially when they are not properly managed or treated. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis are some of the many health conditions that can lead to dementia.

Work closely with your doctor if you have one or more health conditions that put you at risk for dementia. Managing your condition may involve taking your medications as directed, eating healthy foods, and seeing your doctor regularly for checkups.

11. Get Plenty Of Quality Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to mental fog and poor memory. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you stay mentally alert and make it easier for you to retain memories.

To improve your sleep hygiene, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Exercise regularly, spend time in the sun, and avoid heavy use of alcohol and caffeine. Also, avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime, as they can trigger digestion in the middle of the night and cause you to wake up.

12. Reduce Stress

Stress increases your body’s production of a stress hormone called cortisol. Over time, high levels of cortisol can cause inflammation and damage your brain. The brain damage caused by stress can make it difficult for you to remember things and make new memories.

Find healthy ways to manage the stress that work well for you, such as taking a relaxing bath before bedtime or spending time with a pet. You can also consider working with a therapist who can teach you how to practice mindfulness or eliminate various stressors in your life.

13. Avoid Toxins

Exposure to heavy metals is a risk factor for dementia. Metals that may cause dementia include lead, mercury, and aluminum. Other toxins that contribute to dementia are tobacco and alcohol.

Take steps now to reduce your exposure to harmful toxins. Install a water purification system at home that filters out heavy metals. Work with your doctor to quit smoking. Reduce your alcohol intake and limit yourself to one or two drinks per day, at the most. Your doctor can also meet with you to discuss other sources of toxins you may be exposed to based on your diet or occupation.

Managing Your Brain Health With Lompoc Valley Medical Center

At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we are devoted to helping you keep your brain healthy and can work with you to reduce your risk for dementia. We offer a wide range of healthcare services to address all your needs as you grow older and can help you find useful ways to stay mentally sharp. Contact us today at (805) 737-3382 to request an appointment and learn more about our many healthcare services.

LVMC
Written By LVMC, Editorial Staff
Our experts in healthcare often discuss the latest topics in health and wellness and share them for the Lompoc community.