Moving from a stimulating working life and switching off from all mental stimulation can result in a lack of grey matter exercise. You may be taking care your body with physical exercise and adopting a healthy diet, but good cognitive health is essential as we age so we can continue doing activities important to everyday life. Keeping your brain engaged can improve your life at any stage of life but also is a safeguard for the future, reducing the prospects of early dementia and a deterioration in memory, cognitive ability and problem-solving skills.
Our brains grow quickly when we’re children and teenagers, but that growth doesn’t slow down as we age. Older brains contain just as much gray matter as young ones. Staying sharp is just a matter of using what you’ve got. Exercising your brain actually creates physical changes that build stronger synapses between neurons (nerve cells). Synapses allow information to pass extremely fast between nerve cells. Just like physical workouts make your muscles grow, mental exercise does the same for your brain. So pump it up!
Choose a variety of activities that you enjoy
Choose activities that challenge your brain and give you enjoyment as well. If you try to do something that you find very difficult or boring, you may become frustrated or stressed, and this is not healthy for your brain. With many mentally stimulating activities, you can start at an easier level and move to more challenging levels as you get better with practice. This also helps you include new learning in your routine, which is important for building your brain reserve. If you are retired, you should think about new ways to give your brain a regular workout. There are many, many activities that involve mental stimulation and challenge. You could try:
- A hobby such as painting, carpentry, metal work, sewing, craft or collecting
- Reading different styles of books, newspapers or magazines
- Writing poetry, essays or keeping a diary
- Doing jigsaw, crossword, number or word puzzles
- Playing board games or cards
- Learning to dance, play an instrument or speak a new language (maybe Thai?)
- Joining a club or community group or volunteering
- Researching something you’re interested in on the internet
- Even having a chat with a friend about current affairs involves brain exercise.Choose activities that you enjoy and try to include lots of variety to exercise different parts of your brain. Challenge yourself often and keep learning throughout life to keep your brain sharp! One way to stimulate both your social life and your brain is to be regular participant in a quiz night, a very popular pastime for expats in Thailand. The venue for most quiz nights will be a pub or local bar. However the quiz and your team performance becomes the focus, not the booze. Just a quick Google search (‘quiz night hua hin facebook’) will reveal some of the options. Here are some links we found in Hua Hin without trying too hard.
n Cha-Am there is a regular Monday night quiz at the Blue Lagoon. Here’s a link to an article we published three years ago; this quiz night is still going strong! www.huahintoday.com/…/looking-for-a-quizzical-eveningin-cha-am/ Additionally you may wish to volunteer as ‘quiz-master’ after you understand what’s required; that will really stimulate your mental processes. It’s more challenging than you may think especially making allowances for language limitations and your own inevitable biases.