Mental Fitness as Part of Your Healthy Lifestyle
Cognitive decline will happen to everyone as they get older. It involves thinking and processing information at a slower pace, moving slower, remembering less information, and having a difficult time putting together sentences.
Did you know that 1 out of 9 adults will experience subjective cognitive decline at some point in their lives?
Some people will experience worse cognitive decline than others. A good way to keep this decline at bay is to practice mental fitness. You surely already know about the importance of keeping your body strong with plenty of exercise.
Your brain is not any different. If you don't exercise your brain and keep it sharp, how can you expect it to stay strong and active as you age? Of course, this doesn't mean you have to sign up for a calculus class and start using your IQ to compete against others.
Instead, mental fitness is all about including tasks into your daily routine that help to keep your mind stimulated and active. Keep reading to learn more about how to be mentally fit.
Avoid Automatic Thinking
Automatic thinking is not thinking at all. Consider what goes through your mind every day. You might be able to remember some of the basic tasks that you've done for the day, but you might not remember what you were thinking while doing those tasks.
You might not even remember some of the details of those tasks. For example, suppose that you took your dog out for a walk. You're so accustomed to taking your dog out for a walk that the details of the task no longer stand out to you.
You still put the leash on your dog, and you still follow the same route, but all of these details are more or less fog in your mind. That's because while you do all of this, you are thinking automatically. Your mind knows what to do because you have done this same thing plenty of times before.
You know the route, you know how to put on your coat, and you know how fast you and your dog should walk down the street. While automatic thinking can be helpful, it certainly won't give your brain a workout. In many ways, it can actually be detrimental to your mental health and wellness.
Automatic thinking is the laziest way to think. You are not observing your surroundings, you are not thinking about the things going on around you, and you are not coming up with any new thoughts. By letting your brain exist in this state of automatic thinking, you're essentially letting your brain rot.
If you do this for the majority of your life, your brain is not going to be in a great state by the time you're old. But if you train your brain to be more stimulated, you might have a chance.
When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, one of the best things you can do is be more present. You'd be surprised at how many people miss out on living in the moment. Instead of being present, you likely spend most of your time thinking about what's going to happen in the near future.
For example, you might be thinking about the time at which you're going to eat dinner, when you're going to meet up with your friends, and what time you should go to bed. You might think about when your favorite TV show is going to be on and what kind of shampoo you should buy at the store later. All of these thoughts completely avoid the present moment.
While you are focusing on all of these mundane thoughts, you are completely tuning out the world around you. This is not a great way to start building your mental strength and healthy cognitive function. The next time you go outside, try to block all of your thoughts that are not about the present moment.
Besides that, take the opportunity to look at what's going on around you. You might notice things that you've never noticed before. For example, you might see an army of ants building an anthill or some ducks swimming in a pond. While observing your surroundings and living in the present moment might not sound very exciting, it is a very helpful exercise for your brain.
After some time, you will eventually find some things that might interest you. You might even meet some new people while you're out in about. By being present, you will be more open to meeting new people and having new experiences.
You won't be able to stimulate your brain this way if you're always thinking about something else.
When it comes to how to be healthier (and especially mentally healthier), reading is indispensable. Many people have a bad relationship with books for one reason or another. Maybe you had a bad experience with reading while in school, and now you refuse to read another book if you don't have to.
Whatever the case, reading doesn't have to be a chore. More than that, it can be extremely beneficial for your brain. Reading a good novel stimulates your brain in several different ways.
For example, when you read a story, your brain will automatically visualize that story. You will be able to envision farmland, a bustling city, and distraught characters even though you're only reading symbols on a piece of paper. As you can imagine, this is quite an intense exercise for the brain to come up with so much information.
Reading also gives you the chance to expand your vocabulary. When you learn a new word in a book and learn the meaning of that word, your brain will process that information and try to remember it. The very act of trying to remember new information is a great way to stimulate your brain.
Even if you're not trying very hard to remember something, it will still give your brain functions an extra boost. Doing this can keep your mind sharp, and it can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. That way, you won't have to worry so much about forgetting important information in your old age or forgetting what you were going to say in the middle of a sentence.
Reading can also improve your empathy. Even though empathy is emotional rather than intellectual, it can still help to improve your brain functions.
Try Brain Games
Wellness is about a lifestyle, and playing certain games can do wonders when it comes to strengthening your mental fitness. Of course, this doesn't mean that you finally have the opportunity to play your PS4 for hours on end. Some games will stimulate and strengthen your brain more than others.
For example, chess is a classic game that can create sparks in your mind. Chess is unique because it requires you to think not only in the present moment but in the future as well. You will have to think about the consequences of your current and future actions as well as the actions of your opponent.
If you've never played chess before, this can be difficult to master at first. However, once you get the hang of it, you will find that your strategic thoughts while playing chess will come more naturally to you. When your opponent makes a move, you will already know what the best next move might be.
It will also hone your ability to focus. If you're easily distracted, chess is the perfect game for you. Your brain will naturally figure out how to focus and how to come up with solutions to tricky problems.
A crossword puzzle is another game that can be both fun and challenging for the brain. Crossword puzzles not only make you think about your vocabulary but also force you to uncover important facts from your memories. The very act of recalling memories and information can be very stimulating for your brain.
And, of course, for the math side of things, sudoku exists. Much like chess but with numbers, sudoku can be difficult to learn at first, but it can also be indispensable to sharpening your brain function.
How to Improve Your Mental Fitness
Strengthening your mental fitness is not easy, and that's the point. As you would lift weights or run on a treadmill, exercising your brain takes work and ambition. But by playing brain games on a regular basis and incorporating the other tips discussed previously, your brain will always be active and sharp.
This is especially important as you get older. By keeping your brain sharp, cognitive decline won't be a problem for you. To learn more about leading a healthy lifestyle, contact us here.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune diseases, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
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