Topic 6: How to work your most powerful ‘muscle’ for the biggest benefits

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Despite evidence to the contrary, this became accepted wisdom and, for some, still is, although recent studies show that our brains can keep running at top form for as long as a healthy lifestyle is maintained.

But, like any other great engine, the brain also benefits from regular maintenance.

When you hear the term ‘use it or lose it’, you might think about the body. However, this goes for the brain as well. Keeping the mind challenged daily will help keep your memory and problem-solving skills fresh.

To better manage stress and encourage good sleep, there are some other brain activities you can try.

Meditation

A wonderful skill to learn, meditation is about getting in-tune with your body and shutting out the world for a little while. There are many forms of meditation, but to try some basic meditation, shut out visual and audible distractions, concentrate on your breathing and let your body just have a minute to realign. This kind of basic meditation helps improve your memory, as well as helping you sleep if it’s done before bedtime as part of your nightly routine.

Train your brain

There are many apps and games that you can get for your smart devices that will help you train your brain. Most are free but will offer a paid version with extra features if you want them.

One thing that doesn’t cost a cent, however, is to use the ‘random’ page button on Wikipedia as a brain-training tool. You’ll likely learn something new each time, and the act of learning something new can stimulate the brain and allow you to problem-solve more easily in other circumstances. This is also like a little bit of meditation for when you don’t have time for a proper time-out, because it allows you to put all your focus on something other than your own immediate thoughts.

Keep a journal

A journal has many brain benefits.

Firstly, it exercises your brain by making you tell the story of your day, your trip or another event or thought. It forces the information to fit within a written framework, which will help your memory. Experts use keeping a journal as one of the main treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, so there’s strong science behind this idea.  

The second benefit comes from writing in longhand. It might be tempting to type away on the computer but the act of writing with a pen helps train the brain to remember the information better.

It’s also another great meditation-like moment because by telling the story of your day, you’re filtering the feelings out and just putting down the information, which might help you see a problem from a different angle. On the flipside, writing down emotions that you don’t typically share with anyone else can also be therapeutic.

While you won’t feel a massive difference in your brain’s ‘fitness’ immediately, there will be an improvement if you keep with each of these steps. How hard you work your mind is up to you.

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