Our brain, the organ which has the capacity to generate 23 watts of power when awake and possesses 100 billion neurons needs care, maintenance and attention to stay healthy.
Your behaviour, activities and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on your brain health. More people have problems with their mental abilities as we age, but there are things which can actively be done to improve your memory, brain power and focus.
Regardless of age, there are ways to do this whilst deaccelerating your cognitive decline. These are a few of the best, clinically proven ways to stay sharp and boost your brain health.
Go easy on your ears
Your brain health can decline if you start to notice hearing loss. Once you start to lose your sense of hearing, it has the potential to trigger the loss of the brain’s grey matter, according to one study.
“We found that individuals with hearing impairment compared to those with normal hearing had accelerated volume declines in the whole brain and regional volumes in the right temporal lobe,” the authors said.
“There is ample evidence linking hearing loss to changes in cognitive ability, particularly when listeners are faced with the task of understanding speech that is acoustically or linguistically challenging,” says researchers Arthur Wingfield and Jonathan E Peelle.
Every day strain on your ears can cause harm in the future. No matter what age you are, you should take extra care of your ears – don’t expose them to too much noise or stimulation.
“Over 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss as a result of exposure to unsafe levels of recreational noise, according to a recent World Health Organisation report,” writes Catherine De Lange of New Scientist.
When your surroundings get too distracting, it’s always a temptation to put in your air pods, turn up your favourite tunes and zone out to focus better. If you consistently blast music too loud, it can gradually cause harm to your hearing and brain.
Limit or avoid exposure to loid noises. The louder the sound and the longer you listen to it, the more likely it is to cause damage to your brain.
Aim to take regular breaks during the course of the day to give your ears a much-needed rest.
Make time to build meaningful social relationships
We are social creatures by nature – making time for meaningful interactions with family, friends and colleagues also confronts us to try new experiences.
“Research has shown that by interacting with others, we actually train our brains. Social motivation and social contact can help to improve memory formation and recall and protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases” writes Medical News Today.
Boosting our mood and reducing stress aren’t the only benefits of social interaction, it also feeds our brain. Socialising can encourage healthy behaviour, such as going for walks, learning new physical sports and playing games – all of which are good for your brain.
All of this can allow us to gain fresh insights about our environment around us, and give us some time away from being alone with our thoughts. It can also make you happier and improve your outlook in life – it’s not just about having fun – it’s about keeping your brain healthy.
Start enjoying challenging games
Games have been called “unproductive” at best, and “life ruining” at worst.
When played in moderation, games are both fun and provide many benefits that can make you a stronger person.
A 2014 study showed doing the crossword at least once a week “delayed onset of accelerated memory decline by 2.54 years.”
Most games require you to receive information, analyse and make decisions based on this analysis. This sequence involves the foundations of what we would consider to be cognitive skills.
While we may not realise this, games are a great way to challenge yourself and improve your critical thinking skills.
“In fact, games allow people to exercise their minds, develop social skills, and in some cases, build up hand-eye coordination and physical fitness,” says Neal Taparia, Founder of Solitaired, a new initiative that connects classic games with brain training.
Promoting the mental benefits of Solitaired, an 89 year old doctor recently said, “It’s the intellectual challenge, the problem-solving satisfaction, that makes the bridge so attractive.”
Games like chess, scrabble and even strategy games can boost your feelings of accomplishment, boost your wellbeing and relieve stress.
Your brains cognitive reserve can benefit from challenging games, socialisation, novelty and a new challenge in life. For optimal brain function, pick any activity which works for you and keep switching it up – don’t rest on your laurels. New challenges will do wonders for your brain.
This blog has been developed from a piece by Thomas Oppong for Medium.