♫ So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time…♫
Lyrics and music: Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Glenn Lewis Frey, Donald Hugh Henley, recorded by The Eagles. Thanks Glenn for all the great music.
(image by Wade M – CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)
This is a new year’s resolution of a different sort. All of us resolve to get healthier, to live better lives and to do better this year than last. How many of us resolve to keep our minds sharp and agile? Here are some suggestions:
- Learn something different: Take a course that is completely removed from anything else that you have done. The more you learn the better your mind learns to rework its neural pathways. Taking on the challenge of the unknown is more beneficial than doing the same thing over and over.
- Start an aerobic exercise: There is a mind-body connection and the fitter the body the fitter the mind. Keeping your cardio system strong can lessen the chance of system health concerns which in turn, reduce the effects that the passage of years take on them mind. Keeping a daily aerobic exercise has been shown to beat depression, increase mental sharpness and bolster the immune system!
- Get enough sleep: Chronic sleep depravation is linked with the build up of proteins in the brain that are linked with reduced learning and cognitive decline.
- Drink your coffee: Studies have shown that two to four coffees a day may decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s by 30 to 60 percent!
- Eat a healthy diet: There is evidence that brain and heart health may contribute to warding off dementia. You have heard it all before: stick to fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and a moderate amount of alcohol,
- Use your mind: Don’t resort to a calculator or computer. Do it in your head (you can always check it using the tech). Math strengthens reasoning and problem solving skills.
- Don’t stop learning: Evidence shows that the best classes are those that are both mentally challenging as well as socially demanding. Photography is great here!
- Do puzzles: There is a correlation between doing puzzles and increased scores on mental tests. Hey, it can’t hurt!
- Engage: When in a situation, try to turn on all your senses. Notice scents, tastes, feelings, sounds, sights in situations around you. This activates different areas of your brain at the same time.
- Use your left *(or right)* hand: My father was ambidextrous. For those of us who are not, trying to use your “other” hand challenges your mind and senses!
- Be Positive!: Maintaining a positive attitude not only helps you mentally, it also increases your social skills!
- Be Creative: Take up writing, a musical instrument, poetry, quilting or something that challenges to come up with something original.
- Help Others: No truer statement was ever written when someone said “When you help others, you help yourself”.
- Adjust: As we age, we won’t be running marathons as we used to (or whatever it was that defined your peak). Runners World magazine advised seeking new goals as we age that adjust to our life conditions such as running different runs or seeking new running partners. Redefine what is success to you.
- Give thanks: So many people are caught up in the race of comparing themselves against others. Stop. Take a breath. Now think about what you have and how fortunate you are compared to many others. Practising gratitude can be a very affirmative habit that increases your life happiness and satisfaction.
- Carry a notebook: OK your memory isn’t as good as it used to be. So write things down in a notebook that you carry with you. Albert Einstein said: “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”
- Repeat things: When you meet someone new, repeat their name several times in your conversation. This will help you remember their name. Use this for other things you need to remember.
- Meditate: A lawyer that I have known for a very long while sent me a CD with meditation music saying that this was one of the best things he has ever learned. I pass his advice on to you.
- Ask for Help: Who said we need to do it all ourselves? Lawyers don’t want to seem incapable; my advice: give it up. All of us can’t possibly learn everything we need to learn in life. Mentors are worth their weight in gold.
All of us age – that is inevitable. The effects of aging however, are (somewhat) optional. By exercising our mind, we are encouraging it to stretch and in effect, challenging it to take it to the limit one more time.
♫ We made our resolution for our brand new year:
No more letting days go by…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by The Limousines.
So many of us resolve to do things better in the New Year even if we don’t make formal New Year’s Resolutions. Problem is that good intentions die hard. How can you increase your chances for a positive change and outcome? Here are a number of suggestions put forward to increase your chances for a real positive change:
- Start Small: Rome wasn’t built in a day and changes take time. By starting with a small change you can reap the benefits of achievement early and reinforce the knowledge that change is attainable.
- Start with One Goal: If your list is as long as your Christmas gift list, chances are you will get discouraged with the daunting nature of what you have taken on. Change is hard: Don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Slippage is Inevitable: Perfection is an abstract concept. By picking yourself up after a wee break, you can get yourself back on track.
- Choose New Goals: Avoid trying to achieve the goals that you previously set that may not have worked. Giving yourself a fresh goal can be invigorating and empowering.
- Keep Working at It: Change is a process and processes take time. Babies learn to walk by taking tiny steps. But they lead to big things.
- Seek Support: Don’t do it alone. Friends and family can be the positive reinforcement that you need and help get you through a dark spot.
- Reward Yourself: Reward behaviour to celebrate your success!
- Keep Trying: Keep at your new behaviour until it starts becoming part of your routine and personality.
Most of all don’t give up! We all know that change is hard but determination can overcome resistance. You made your resolution for the brand new year; now no more letting days go by!
(published concurrently with tips.slaw.ca)