We know what happens to body parts not in use, for instance, during longer periods of immobilization: they degenerate and we have to work very hard to re-establish their flexibility and activity, and that involves all tissues and cells. That takes work, exercise and treatment. While wrinkles on somebody’s face or body shape clearly indicate person’s age and are visible at a first glance, the memory glitches and mild brain dysfunction are not. That’s why most people are obsessed with looking younger at any means, with diets, must have outfits and tools. That is an inevitable part of the visible and directly noticeable personality. Nobody is afraid to spend money on gym, sports equipment, hairdo, makeup, plastic surgeon and costly skin treatments. There’s so much money spent on useless food supplements which quite often harm the user without giving any of the benefits commercials promise. How come the most important part, the commandment and interaction managing center, the brain is so frequently left out of the scene of self-improvement?
Keeping memories alive and watching the brain health is the most neglected aspect of our general health. Why?
Most likely, the main reason is nobody can see the aging of our brain or notice it right away. As it progresses, the person experiencing this badly affecting disorder is not even aware of it. This trouble becomes a serious issue when the memory loss is already large enough to affect the daily routine and any normal activities.
We simply should not allow that happen. Do we? Along with genetically inherited factors, mobile and digital devices do not demand us to use the memory and our brain. Everything is on the phone or laptop: directions, reminders, alarms, alerts and lists. We can send notes to ourselves and make endless to-do and other lists. How is that bad? It’s very simple: while we are watching screens or scrolling through them, our brain is half asleep. It’s crying for attention, but most people do not take this seriously until the brain turns itself off. The usage of our brain with well-known activities even with demanding, but familiar mental activities is very little. The brain requires daily exercise, daily workload and high level usage. That’s the only way to keep neurons alive and not to lose any connections which are called synapses. That’s the only way to develop new neurons at any age. The research in twins shows that genetic factors are by far not everything since one of twins develops dementia or Alzheimer’s while the other does not. That is a very strong indication in favor of epigenetic factors, like our daily activities, the work we do, the level of our involvement in challenging mental tasks.
Good food, absence of harmful chemicals, physical activity and proper care are essential elements of our well-being, but they make no sense when the brain stops functioning. They make zero sense without cognitive function and memory. The sad reality looks like this, however: once we are done with school and degrees, the active learning period ends, too. How many people who engage in intentional brain exercises on a daily basis when their job does not require that do you know? Let’s compare this number with people who care about their diet and physical activity. I can bet that there are very few who will say they know a lot of people who learn playing a new instrument, who do a research or learn a new language and who do visual arts for their brain exercises every day at an older age.
I would call the lack of brain exercising phenomenal in times when statistics reveal that the number of people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s is expected to double in countries like Canada and the USA by 2038. Besides, there is nothing complicated about it: book your drawing and painting class, language learning course, music class or do your research with visual illustrations right away. Do not delay because any hesitation is causing trouble.
It’s proven by now through many controlled trials that the best brain life boosting activity is drawing and painting because:
it is something new every time;
it is challenging and requires obtaining new skills every single minute;
it is a skill one can build on while starting at an easy level;
it is rewarding and pleasurable activity;
it involves socializing when taking a class in a group;
it reduces stress, anxiety and nervousness;
it involves positive thinking and positive attitude towards reality.
These elements of brain exercising are essential. Besides, doing an art class is easy, affordable and some class always takes place close by. Just a small note: drawing and painting with alcohol does not improve brain function because we get opposite effects: alcohol kills brain cells while visual art extends the life of neurons and number of their connections.
Taking care of the brain is essential. We shouldn’t put it off.
10 thoughts on “Keeping memories alive and our brain fit”
I’m really trying hard to do different things, I just don’t know if it does me any good if I’m stressed out on a daily basis.
Stressed out doesn’t help because it triggers all kinds of bad stuff being released, therefore, the positive effect is probably absent. You should try to reduce the stress levels. We all have built in mechanism for coping with stresses and in normally functioning human body stress should not exceed the good levels. Adrenal glands release cortisol and it is supposed to deal with the internal (like high blood sugar, fast heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, etc) and external stresses. When adrenal glands do not function properly or when they work overtime (like in a chronic stress) the effects reverse and as a result there’s insomnia, fatigue, frequent infections and similar stuff. Our body is such a fine-tuned mechanism with so many regulation tools that anything which makes it loose the balance or homeostasis calls for action and our body does it to the best of its capabilities. Therefore, it’s good to check also the thyroid gland because that also contributes to this. I cannot cover stress issues in 2 sentences, but one is for sure: if the body shows some kinds of weakness in dealing with stresses and due to that one becomes chronically stressed out, it is time to do something about it. Most of my students would always admit how helpful to spend some hours thinking about nothing but colors and paints actually is.
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Great info, thank you.
You are very welcome. I wish you had enough time to take good care about yourself.
Wow! Very Insightful reading! hit the nail right on the head…….
Thanks Don! I believe knowing this is very useful for so many people. There are a lot of things we can do for ourselves, it’s just so that we don’t want to. When something is not expensive or very difficult to get and very hard to use, people think it doesn’t work. Very many simple things work very well as long as we are willing to take a step into the right direction. Have a nice day!
I keep learning all the time. Love to learn. Love to read books, actual books, not just ebooks. I do some art here and there. Great blog! 🙂
I do the same, and I believe that’s the best one can do. Some art here and there cannot harm, too, and learning is just very advantageous thing since it decreases the chance of getting memory dysfunction and brain damage.
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I sure hope it does. I watched my grandma go through dementia. It was very sad. She got depressed after grandpa died and quit doing a lot of things. I am determined to stay functioning! 🙂
Definitely, we just have to. There have been numerous controlled trials to this point, and all of them show how targeted brain activity allowed to maintain the existing and grow new neurons. It’s not that getting old means loosing memory. Any body parts which are not in use sort of stop functioning, the same goes for brain. Depression is a big issue for many people because it really facilitates brain dysfunction. We should try hard to overcome depressive episodes and keep moving and using our best part: the brain. I’m sorry to hear you have such a bad experience among relatives.
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