Use it…or lose it? Or maybe not!

Many elderly people start to lose their short-term memory as they get older.  I have often wondered why and, in my opinion, it comes down to a couple of reasons: Not having a fixed schedule anymore (for example, go to work, pick up the kids), can be one reason.  The other might have to do with our diet, what we do to stimulate our brain and/or medication.  Another factor that plays a role is stress.  As we know, long-term stress can and will, create havoc to your physical-, emotional- and psychological health.  In today’s rushed environment, our bodies are often overstimulated with too much caffeine, junk food, and other substances.  Having a stressful job or living somewhere where there is crime, can raise our cortisol levels, thus leading to memory problems.

However, all is definitely not lost and there are plenty of advice that will help you not only to get rid of your stress, but also keep your brain sharp and active; no matter what your age!  Meditation, relaxation, doing yoga or going for a walk (without your cell phone and/or earphones), will do wonders for body, mind and soul.  We cannot really relax indoors / outdoors and connect with nature, if we are “hooked” onto our cell phones, laptops and/or earphones.  There is nothing more relaxing than to be in nature, listening to and observing your surroundings.  Indeed, playing classical music is fantastic!  Not only to relax, but also to boost your brainpower and memory.  It is a well-known fact, proven over and over again, that Baroque music especially, is fantastic when you are studying and/or need to concentrate.

Use memory tricks and learn a new skill.  For example, the word “BEBMOT,” can be used to remember to buy bread, eggs, butter, milk, oats and tissues.  Using visualization can also help.  Imagine your bread is on the fireplace, the eggs are in your bathtub, the butter is in a vase, the milk is on the table, the oats are on your bed and the tissues are in the fridge!  Something silly will trigger the brain to remember; the same way if you link things by association.  Writing down what you need to buy is also a good idea, especially if the list is quite long.  Learning a new skill, like knitting or playing bridge, is another way to stimulate the mind and keep the brain functioning at optimum levels.  Doing crosswords, doing art (colouring in) and/or practising a musical instrument, are also ways to help boost your memory.

Having an organized routine makes all the difference.  Decide the night before what you are going to wear the next day; pack the lunch boxes the night before; have a “to do-list” and tick it off as you finish one job after the other.  If there is anything on your list that you haven’t done or finished, relax.  Tomorrow is another day.  Make time to “declutter” your mind.    Whether it is by taking a hot shower / bath with candlelight, or sitting down with a nice cuppa and/or soft, relaxing music, meditating, or going for a jog / walk / exercising before going home, there are many ways to get rid of stress and unwind.

As mentioned earlier, exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body.  Doing crosswords, sudoku, reading, socializing with friends, learning a new skill or language, building a puzzle, learning to play a musical instrument, doing art or dancing, are all “exercises” for your brain.  Every time you learn something new or do something that challenges your mind, your brain forms new connections between the neurons.  Being in a job that you not only love, but that also challenges you mentally, is also important.  There is nothing worse than to be in a job that is not mentally stimulating, emotionally draining and/or plain boring!

Exercising the body has a direct link to a healthy mind.  When you exercise it increases the oxygen and nutrients to the brain, the organs and stimulates the flow of energy.  When you don’t exercise, smoke, eat junk foods regularly and/or drink alcohol often, you not only deprive your body from the vital nutrients it needs to stay healthy.  You also deprive your brain from “brain food.”  Indeed, taking a supplement like Omega-3 is good, but you cannot only take supplements and not look after your diet and not exercise.  We are made to move; our bodies want to move to make sure it gets oxygen in and to help the lymphatic system to get rid of toxins.

Getting back to stress.  We all know that stress is not always good; especially long-term stress.  Not only does it affect our mood, cause anxiety and/or depression, but it can also affect the neurons in the brain.  As mentioned earlier you can do many things to get rid of stress.  However, if you still find yourself stressing too much, then best to get help.  Body Talk or Core Regeneration might help; talking to someone is also good.  Remember; you have a conscious- and subconscious mind.  The subconscious mind is like the hard drive of a computer:  it stores everything you think, everything you (or someone else) says and cannot differentiate between what is true and what is not true.  Thus, something like Core Regeneration or Body Talk, can help you to get rid of the deep-seated “triggers” that causes the stress.  Try it, before you grab the anti-depressant pills – after all, you cannot live on these pills all your life!

Lastly; breathing plays a huge role in all of the above.  The deeper and slower you can inhale and exhale, the better.  Not only will more oxygen circulate throughout the body, but it will automatically calm you down and help you to relax.  If you are in a situation where you cannot go outside, for example, to “catch your breath,” then try closing your eyes for a couple of seconds.  Take a slow, deep breath in and think / visualize being somewhere else.  Slowly exhale and consciously relax your muscles; especially the tense-areas.  Visualization / imagination is a great tool to help you relax, destress and unwind, no matter where you are!

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