Why is lifelong learning so important for not only unlocking cognitive health benefits, but also maintaining cognitive health?
To find purpose and meaning in life, your ability to explore, discover, and learn is of great assistance. Consider this: You may feel more appreciated and accomplished when you master a new recipe and then prepare that meal for family and/or friends.
Here’s another example: At your next book club meeting, you feel good about being able to share and offer new insights after having read something particularly interesting.
At every stage of life, lifelong learning is beneficial, including – and maybe especially – during your golden years.
With age, some people believe that cognitive decline is an absolute – especially if they are already residing in an assisted living setting. This is not true! It doesn’t always have to be a given. Your intellectual, cognitive health can be enhanced courtesy of lifelong learning. Here’s how.
4 Great Ways Learning Improves Your Cognitive Health
1. Nurture The Brain
Nurture your brain by nourishing it in more ways than one. Naturally, this includes eating the right foods and/or taking the right supplements for a healthy brain.
Here are five ways in which you can nurture your brain for better, longer cognitive health:
- Get enough sleep every night and make sure it’s quality sleep. This may be easier said than done for some individuals. Do whatever you can and whatever you need to in the pursuit of quality sleep in proper amounts. Buy a new mattress, turn off your electronics, read a good book in bed, etc.
- Manage stress as efficiently as possible. To maintain your overall health, it is crucial you discourage relationship conflicts, feelings of insecurity, anger, irritability, frustration, and more, which can all be exacerbated by stress. It can also contribute to panic attacks, phobias, anxiety, depression, and other emotional/mental disorders. Talk to a professional for ideas as to how to handle stress and other mental health issues.
- Get the physical activity you need to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Don’t push yourself past your limits, but, at the very least, try to take at least one walk per day. There are “sit and be fit” routines if you have a hard time standing or moving about. Whether you participate in a retirement living program through your residence or get a group together and pursue something on your own, the important thing is to move!
- To discourage cognitive decline, pursue mental stimulation. The adage “use it or lose it” applies to both the human body and mind. Create a brain training program that includes features like improving reaction speed, memory, coordination, executive function, visual perception, and attention.
- Eat a balanced diet, making sure to get all of the most important vitamins and minerals for cognitive health. To boost brainpower, eat more zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C/ascorbic acid, B-9/folic acid, and B-1/thiamine.
2. Boost Your Mood
Because your mood helps determine cognitive health, consider the following mood boosters:
- Disconnect when you need to – pray, meditate, relax, write in a journal
- Try a new hobby or take a class
- Find a support group
- Seek professional help for counseling
- Stay away from narcotics and alcohol
- Adopt a pet
- Appreciate nature
- Make a new friend
- Live in the present rather than in the past
- Give back
- Be thankful
- Have positive talks with yourself
- Get good sleep
- Stay physically active
If you already have a bit of a problem with self-confidence, you may need to boost it before you can maintain it. There are a handful of methods through which some people have built self-confidence:
- Get a hobby
- Talk yourself up
- Set distinct goals and get things done
- Concentrate on what you’re good at
- Feel accomplished in, and proud of, things you’ve already achieved
- Follow through on promises
- Stand up for yourself
- Within reason, be fearless
- Try to always do the right thing
You may want to monitor your progress so you can keep an eye on how you’re doing.
4. Be Adaptable
Increasing your adaptability will help you stay healthier all the way around. It can even be of assistance in lessening stress. Here are a handful of suggestions as to how to be more adaptable.
- Learn from your successes and your mistakes
- Keep a journal
- Catalog things that didn’t go quite so well, but also list things you’re proud of
- Give yourself a big hug and lots of love
- Every day, note things you’re grateful for
- Your comfort zone should be expanded
- Learn new skills
- Set your curiosity free – what have you always wanted to know more about?
- Keep inspiration handy
- Flex your creative muscles – learn to paint, sing songs, play an instrument
- Follow your personal “North Star”
- Figure out what “North” means for you. As a human being, what makes you feel fulfilled? What’s your purpose?
- Find landmarks. Compared to others, what are your special, unique experiences, skills, and talents?
- Make a life map. This will assist you in connecting the dots between where you are today and your “North Star”. Use paper and markers.
- Take your big plans and break them down into long term (keep it to one or two core principles), medium (milestones for the next few months), and short (plan for the next week or two) scales.
How does one develop themselves into being a good mentor? Here are a handful of suggestions:
- Be or become the most positive role model you can possibly be. From your words and actions, others will observe and learn, provided you – yourself – are on the right path.
- Don’t make all the decisions for the person you are mentoring. They need to make their own decisions, even though you may know better. They’re learning; you’re not doing it for them.
- Understand the other person’s feelings and perspective – practice empathy. One vital good mentor trait is that of empathy. You can better guide your protégé if you understand how they’re feeling.
- Without breaking the confidence of the person you are mentoring, you can deliver criticism in a constructive manner. When addressing your concerns, be tactful and diplomatic. Point out something positive, rather than only shortcomings and mistakes, then offer guidance on improvement.
- Communication and listening are both crucial. What are the expectations and aspirations of your protégé? Are they looking for insight, guidance, or support? Your approach should be targeted.
- Provide a Sense of Fulfilment
Some of the most successful people were asked how they achieve fulfillment. Here’s what they suggested:
- To something bigger than yourself, find a connection.
- You are not entitled, so don’t think like it. Take the words “should have” out of your life.
- Rather than living in the past, live in the present. Don’t clutter your mind with what has been. Concentrate on here and now.
- Do something that makes others feel good. Contribute to others. For other people’s unique experiences, gain a sense of compassion to feel more connected.
- Never stop growing. Constantly challenge yourself.
Whether you are living out your golden years in an apartment, a house, or in a retirement community, one of the most important things you can do is concentrate on improving and/or maintaining your cognitive health at a function.