How to Stay Mentally Sharp
Sean Higgins
how to stay mentally sharp

It’s normal at any age to forget someone’s name in a conversation or go into a room and be unable to remember the reason why. As you get older however, memory and other mental abilities can tend to decline more seriously.

Just as with any organ in your body, there are things that you need to do to look after your brain and keep it in the best shape possible for as long as possible. However, your brain is a deeply complex organ, so the care that it requires looks a little different.

Here are some ways to stay mentally sharp throughout your lifetime. 

1. Learn

There’s evidence that learning a new skill can help strengthen your neural network and improve memory function in older adults. 

Learning a new skill is fun, interesting, and a great way to connect with like-minded people. It can even be useful too. You could learn how to repair your car, create software, crochet, or pick up a martial art. 

2. Teach

On the flip side, you can also benefit from teaching.  Not only does teaching help you to solidify what you’ve learned, it can help you to expand your learning as well. 

When you teach, your brain works to observe if the other party is listening and absorbing information. You might need to cater your teaching to students’ specific learning styles and needs. You have to pay attention to what they’re doing as well as yourself, and that takes a lot of mental effort.

3. Do a puzzle

According to research, jigsaw puzzles engage multiple cognitive facilities and help protect against certain types of cognitive decline. 

This is because when you do a puzzle, you don’t just have to figure out which pieces go together, you have to think of the final result as well. It’s both relaxing and challenging, and is a great way to give your brain a workout. 

4. Use your senses

Your senses help your brain to understand the world around you. When you engage your senses and are present in what you can touch, smell, see, hear, and taste, you can strengthen your brain.  

Do activities where your senses can actively participate. Try a new restaurant, bake, or visit a store or market and touch everything that you can. 

Once you’re more aware of what you’re sensing, you can do this in everyday life. Savor the warmth of a bath, the smell of dinner, the texture of your bed sheets. This is great for your brain’s health and it gives you a way to connect with yourself and be present in the moment. 

5. Meditate

Meditation is another way to connect with yourself, serving as an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, which in itself is a way to be good to your brain. 

Additionally, meditation has been shown to improve your memory and ability to process information. There are many different types of meditation, so there will definitely be at least one that will suit you. Find a quiet spot and time, and try it out. 

6. Move your body

Exercise is always a good idea. It reduces stress, keeps you fit, and is excellent for your overall health. It can also combine some of the concepts we’ve discussed above as it’s an opportunity for you to engage your senses, learn, and teach. 

Remember that exercise comes in many forms. It’s not about burning calories or looking a certain way – it’s about being good to your body. Find a form of exercise that makes you feel good. Dancing, Pilates, martial arts, weightlifting, your options are endless. 

7. Expand your vocabulary

A rich vocabulary makes you sound smart and helps you out in a lot of games but research shows that it can also seriously engage your brain.

Vocabulary tasks use many of the brain’s regions, especially the ones that are used for auditory and visual processing. 

You can expand your vocabulary by consuming a healthy variation of media in many forms. Sci fi, history, classics. Read, watch, or listen your way to a more impressive vocabulary and a healthier brain. 

It’s always better with someone else

Focusing on your brain’s health is one of the most rewarding and important pursuits you can have, and everything listed above will help you to do just that. 

All of these activities can or do involve company, which makes you feel good and also keeps your brain active. Socialization helps to prevent mental decline as well as lowering the risk of dementia. 

If you’re struggling to do any of these activities alone, why not grab a friend? Who knows, by trying these ideas out you might even make a new one!

The BetterYou app uses behavior science to improve digital health and make it stick.

Want to learn how?