Mental Health Month: Proven Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp


The New science of neuroplasticity demonstrates that brains do not have to decline as we age. Just like our bodies, our brains need a good workout to keep in tip-top shape.

Aging Minds

The idea that the human brain inevitably deteriorates with age is a popular myth. Growing older does not mean that your mind cannot remain mentally sharp, even into advanced age. There is a catch though, in order to get the best out of your brain you must keep it stimulated.

It is a “use it or lose it” proposition, but that does not mean that it has to be difficult or demanding. In fact, research has shown that dedicating a few minutes a day can indeed keep your mind chugging along for years. The key is to keep your brain challenged and involved with new and interesting tasks. You need to keep it busy, learning things, thinking, and solving puzzles.

Simply doing the same-old thing that you have done for years is not enough. For instance, if you have been an accountant all of your life, you may get a lot of benefit out of taking up a new hobby that has nothing to do with crunching digits.

New Patterns are Key to Staying Young at Mind

You need to develop new patterns of thought and stretch your mind a little each day. Minds are the ultimate creatures of habit. In order to maintain your brain, you need to keep it from performing the same, routine tasks repeatedly (and thereby just running on autopilot).

You need to change things up from time to time and take on new tasks, face new challenges or find different ways of looking at things. In short, you must make yourself think, make decisions and solve problems.

Brain studies have demonstrated that learning in different ways creates new pathways. For instance writing notes about a television show that you watched forces your brain to approach things in a fresh way. Learning to draw, dance or sculpt also makes your brain shift your perceptions and create brain connections. Any new activity can stimulate your brain.

Here are some ways to keep your mind sharp:

  • Exercise-physical exercise can stimulate your mind. Try walking, gardening or other low-impact sports.
  • Read something new or search online for something that interests you.
  • Communicate with people-keep in touch, write letters or learn to use Skype in order to remain active and involved.
  • Take up some creative hobby such as drawing, painting or crafting or take up a musical instrument .
  • Break up your daily routine and switch things up as much as possible.
  • Learn a different language or just a few new words and definitions every day.
  • Put puzzles together.
  • Fill out crossword puzzles.
  • Challenge yourself with games like Sudoku or other online games that make you focus and think.

The main objective is to challenge your brain with new things. Whether that is reading a good mystery novel, solving a puzzle, playing an online game, learning to play the piano, solving puzzles, or just talking and meeting new people, you need to try to learn something every day. Stay as active as you can and do as much as you can. After all, if you take care of your brain, it will take care of you-even into your advanced years.

Image credit for Mental Health Month: Proven Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp: woodleywonderworks