Aging can either leave us wondering where our health, body and mind went or aging can be a time of thriving with health, clarity and vitality. One of the top concerns of aging is a lack of mental acuity or sharpness.
Everyone has a ‘senior moment’ and memory lapses can occur at any age. But unfortunately, many believe this is the beginning of the end, which is far from the truth. However, the most important thing you must do to keep your brain healthy and your mind sharp is to avoid excess stress.
Stress has serious physiological effects on the body. When you are stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. In small amounts, cortisol is not very harmful. But in response to chronic stress, which is stress that occurs over a long period of time, such as every day, cortisol is triggered and becomes extremely toxic to our health, our weight and our brain.
Cortisol actually disables your brain cells and interferes with the integrity of brain function. This chronic exposure to cortisol causes the lack of mental acuity, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, and confusion that is associated with aging.
As we age, almost all hormone levels fall and cortisol is one of the very few exceptions – cortisol actually rises as you grow older. To regain and keep a youthful mind, you must lower the cortisol levels in your body.
Attain and Keep Your Mental Clarity
You can lower levels of cortisol in the body by reducing stress. Here are some simple, but effective, techniques to lessen stress:
Use Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can help to powerfully calm the body and help stop the stress response in its tracks. It is simple to do; it can be done anywhere, even while driving. This form of stress reduction is highly effective.
Let It Out
Writing down problems, such as journaling or talking about them is also an effective stress reduction tool. Write down your problem and how you feel about it. You will be surprised at the therapeutic effect and the powerful release of stress that occurs.
Do Something You Love
Most people have something in life that they like to do most. It is the thing that relaxes you and lets you forget about your worries. Traveling, golfing, walking in the woods, painting, gardening, visiting a special place, reading or having a picnic can release your mind off the stress of daily living. Ensure you set aside time (schedule if necessary) for your favorite thing and as Nike says: Just Do It.
Meditation can be very simple and not time consuming at all. Simply letting it all go for 10 minutes or even taking just one minute ‘meditation breaks’ has a significant impact upon your stress level and quality of life, health and weight.
One study led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School taught meditation to a group of people with clinical levels of anxiety and found that 90% experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression. Another study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found meditation-based programs were also highly effective in treating people with clinical levels of anxiety. They found 90% of people in the group experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression. Meditation is also beneficial for optimizing health, increases immunity, reduces aging, helps promote restful sleep, and improves brain functioning.
To meditate for 1, 2 or even 10 minutes, follow these instructions:
- Find a quiet spot
- Close your eyes.
- Relax and sit comfortably
- Breathe slowly.
- Focus on your breathing.
If your mind slips away to work on a problem or other thoughts, gently direct it back to your breathing.
And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice but needs to be practiced every day so it becomes a habit. Developing habits are the key to success in every area of life.
Get Some Sleep
It is a time that you use to focus within yourself. Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Listen to your breathing and follow it. Or repeat a word or short phrase that means something. You can speak it or just think it in a rhythm that is comfortable. Clear your mind of worries, and focus on relaxing. Take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to do this. You can even meditate as you lie in bed at night. It will be time well spent.
Take care of yourself
Make sure to also eat a healthful, anti-inflammatory diet, use supplements where needed and make sure to exercise. A healthy body and mind go hand in hand.
With the above techniques, you will be able to reduce your stress which means you are reducing your cortisol levels. This eliminates the #1 age-associated killer of brain cells. These 6 techniques will help you keep a sharp and focused mind at any age.