Stalling the ageing process is something that has fascinated mankind for centuries.
Superficially, some of us will use any means available to at least look younger from the outside, but what about what you can’t see?
Researchers in the US have recently found that it is possible to slow the ageing process for the things that matter most, our vitality, libido, memory and brain power, allowing us to rejuvenate our brains and in turn everything else. In effect, we can train the brain so our bodies don’t degenerate as quickly, giving new meaning to the term “Use it, or lose it”.
Here are some ideas on how you can give the old grey matter a boost.
1. Give the gadgets a rest.
Scientists say that by finding new and challenging ways of solving problems, we fire up the brain, forging new pathways. We should lose some of our favourite gadgets like the GPS and go back to reading maps and be aware of where we are going, taking in the details around us. By really listening and looking around us in a state of mindfulness, we will continually stimulate our memory. Try memorising more than just your own phone number also.
2. Practise, practise, practise.
Practise is everything, talent not so important! It you do something 10,000 times, you will master it.
3. Get out of your comfort zone.
Change a routine or walk a different route to the shops. Continually surprise the brain by giving it decisions to make and new problems to solve.
4. Learn something new.
Go back to study, learn a language, take up a hobby or challenge yourself to do something you always wanted to but never thought you could. When you succeed, reward yourself. Self-praise and positive feedback secures the lesson and helps to rewire the brain and promote good habits.
5. Exercise the body.
We all know that exercise is great for our ongoing health, but don’t forget to mix it up. Get out of your normal routine and take in a dance class, try tai chi or yoga. Moving your body differently will help to grow the brain. Even something as silly as imitating a silly Monty Python inspired walk or just dancing like no one is watching will do the trick!
6. Learn to meditate.
Meditation can be beneficial to calm and relieve the stresses in our lives but it can also open pathways into unused areas of our mind.
7. Get social and have fun.
Social interaction is paramount to our general wellbeing. Participation in group sports and other activities have been shown to initiate sections of the brain associated with social connection and increased intelligence. When we play and laugh, we release chemicals that assist with synaptic connections. Neuroscience professor, Matthew Lieberman says “Without love, relationships and community, the deterioration of our health is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day!”
8. Read as much as you can.
Reading gives us pleasure. We learn without even realising it. It expands our vocabulary. It encourages our imagination. Reading stimulates our brain, so never stop!
9. Use games to train your brain.
If you are a crossword or Sudoku fiend, you are definitely on the right track. If these are not your thing or you want a new way to keep testing the old grey matter, try BrainHQ.com, a website of scientifically proven exercises to challenge and stimulate your brain.
10. Lock in the memories.
Before you go to sleep each night, spend a few minutes recalling the day, the places you went, the people you saw and the things you did.
11. Try juggling!
Whilst this may seem a little off beat, researchers say that juggling can increase our thinking speed and ability to focus. It can also improve our motor skills and spatial awareness. Perhaps, practise this one in private until you are expert, remember 10,000 times and you will have it sorted!
Whatever age you are right now, don’t be afraid to try new things. Stay curious, accept your failures and learn from them. Continually surprise your brain by refusing to play it safe, don’t say “I can’t”, and just give it a go!