3 Ways to Nurture Brain Health
You and Your Brain
Did you know that your brain changes in form and function throughout your life? This is the premise of brain plasticity or neuroplasticity. Consider specific actions in these three areas to nurture your brain’s health:
When you attempt new skills and experiences, you are creating new neural connections, new synapses in the brain. So, to encourage this growth at any age, you might learn something new.
I asked two groups of Parkinson’s patients and caregivers recently what skills they had learned after age 40 or 50. The responses included learning to drive a tractor, re-learning handwriting, learning a new computer program, and more. All of these are initially disorienting, but after practice, become easier. What could you learn this year?
When you repeat and practice these new skills, you are strengthening your neural connections. You are strengthening those synapses.
So, as you exercise every day, or perform a new skill every day, you have to think less and less about it, because those connections are growing stronger. Good habits (and I’m sure you have many) work this way. Name 3 good habits you have and take a moment to feel good about it. And, keep it up! Your good habits are healthy for your brain.
Reversing Weakened Connections
Of course, when we neglect or don’t use certain parts of the brain those connections and synapses become weaker.
Think about it, when you return to an old skill after years away from it, you require a bit of time and practice to return to your old form. Can you think of an area that you have gotten away from that might contribute to the good in your life if you returned to it? Pick just one and determine to reverse those weakened connections. For instance, if you’ve become a bit of a hermit, take a chance and reconnect with people. If you gotten away from physical or spiritual exercise, start small with 10 minutes a day of activity in the right direction.
As you engage in these three areas in large and small ways, you will be nurturing your brain health.
Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term referring to the ability of your brain to reorganize itself, both physically and functionally, throughout your life due to environment, behavior, thinking, and emotions.