I did it again. I lost my oatmeal. I have a habit of fixing my breakfast and walking around the house eating it. I set the bowl down somewhere, and couldn’t remember where I left it. About a month later, my son said “Mom, what is this awful stuff up on the fireplace mantel?” Ugh. Occasionally I misplace my car keys or lose my phone, but losing my food is something serious! My brain has been on information overload and I think it is exhausted. No wonder I am losing it! As a fitness professional, I encourage people all the time to keep their bodies fit, but it’s important to remember that our brains need a workout, too.
Brain fitness is really not that hard; you barely work up a sweat! Here are some proven workouts:
1. Maintain a connection with others. Studies show that people who have an active social life can actually reduce the risk of dementia. I need a lot of people in my life to help keep me fit. I have friends I pray with and friends I play with. My Body & Soul Fitness class plays a huge role in keeping me connected with real people. You were not designed to do life by yourself. Friends help you see things in a different light and from a different perspective, which stimulates your thinking.
2. Keep learning. My in-laws are retired ministers. They are over 80 years old and are amazing learners. I am delighted when my husband is talking to his Dad and tells him about a new book he has just read and his dad says, “Oh yes, I finished that one myself last month.” Every time you learn something new, you develop new brain cells.
3. De-stress. My mom used to say, “Why pray when you can worry?” Every person I know is living under some kind of stress. The problem comes when you get into stress overload and become “distressed.” Too much stress may lead to excess cortisol in the brain, which can affect your memory. Seeking time with God, listening for His voice, letting Him lead you beside still waters rejuvenates your mind and your spirit.
4. Turn off the TV. These days it seems like cable is on steroids and it gives us about a hundred more channels not to watch. Some days I am tempted just to hit the sofa and veg but studies show people who watch more than seven hours of TV a day are at a higher risk of developing memory loss. I can’t afford to lose any more of my mind.
5. Eliminate hurry from you life. Nothing makes me crazier than having too much to do in my 24-hour day. It causes my thinking to become frantic. I tend to make hasty and impulsive decisions when I am in a hurry. You have a lot to think about every day. You certainly don’t need to have your decision-making process compromised. Having a prayer time every morning and praying over your “planner” will keep things in perspective. God will help you prioritize your day and eliminate the need to hurry.
6. Keep moving. Studies show that exercise keeps the brain healthy. I have discovered that when my mind is bogged down with too much information, if I go even for a short walk, my mind clears!
7. Let God change your mind with His word. He has changed my mind about so many things. I used to think I could not write. I used to think I could not speak in public. I used to think I could not lead exercise. I used to think I could not understand the Bible. I used to think He did not love me. I have changed my mind about all of this. He has transformed my mind with a new way of thinking.
His Holy Spirit is a good and kind personal trainer who is teaching me about brain fitness! And He can train you, too!
Today’s post is written by guest contributor and Body & Soul instructor Vicki Heath. Vicki is also the National Director for First Place 4 Health.