A 30-year-old employee recently walked into the HR’s office to complain about their increasing forgetfulness. As the person spoke with the Human Resource Head, I realised employees across sectors and organization were being anxious of small issues that hindered their work-life balance.
Clearly, Covid-19 working styles and finding everything at an arm’s distance has made life easier. A female friend said she was happy that Covid gave her the opportunity to work, take care of her baby and manage her house. The time she saved from traveling back and forth office was spent bonding with her child.
But coming back to the issues we all are facing related to the mind. Working a full-time job, managing a household can be an overwhelming experience for many. People face issues like missed appointments, have trouble focusing, shortened attention spans, mental exhaustion, and burnout, etc.
While I feel like there are reasons a person may feel like this. For example, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, hypertension etc, can lead to such issues. But if the physical conditions are all under the perfect range, there is but one issue – the brain is not getting enough exercise.
Just like our physical body needs exercise, our mind needs to exercise to sharpen, boost and improve memory. Simple things like doing a puzzle or challenging your brain to learn a new activity, builds and maintains brain cognitive skills.
Our cognitive skills wane with age.
Thinking and memory will be more challenging and need rigorous exercises to maintain the reserve, suggests research.
Taking up an activity, learning a new skill or practicing an already learnt skill is one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy and improve neural functions. Our brain learns and grows as we age and regular exercising or training, just like training our bodies, we keep it in decent shape.
Regular physical exercise is one way to improve brain’s cognitive functions like problem solving, concentration, memory. However, it is not clear that this aspect alone boosts the brain. There may be some combinations of exercises or factors that help in improving our memory and brain function.
Does food play an important part or does your willingness to change how your brain responds?
Also, what about the time one does these exercises? What if you practice your new skill only for six months and then quit? Does that mean the improvement in your memory and brain function remains only for six months?
Take singing as an activity. If one learns singing, it benefits your lungs. It is the perfect lung exercise and reduces your stress. While learning a new skill, one is mindful of many things- pitch, voice, rhythm and breathing. You are mindful of each tone and key, and each practice session serves as one step better for memory. But what happens when all these basics get inculcated in our muscle memory? Do improvements stop in the brain function?
Fortunately, no. Creative activities like painting, singing, dancing, learning a language are exercises for the brain. It helps to train the brain to process instructions or information faster, improve memory, reinforces connections between brain cells, and improve short term memory.
A 2014 study shows how older adults showed improved aspects of memory by smaller and effective endeavors such as learning a new language.
Some tips can help in supporting your brain training for the journey you wish to take:
One activity: Find one favorite activity and devote your time and attention to that one activity. Do not let anything distract you from your goals.
Have a mentor: An effective way to be a good learner is to become a student. A teacher will teach you basics, guide your instincts, and help you navigate your learning.
Practice: There is no other way to learn something new than to practice it every day. Schedule practice time.
Consistency is the key: Don’t focus on the amount of time instead remember consistency brings success. Choose a specific time and commit to it.
The important thing to remember is that consistency is the key. Any activity or challenge your pick for yourself it should consist of the following:
The activity should be new: Bring out the challenge to engage the brain as it learns something new.
Catches your interest: Whatever activity you pick, make sure it should be something you like. If you are not committed to the activity, you are likely to quit it before you know it.
Practice: There is no learning and improvement if one does not practice. Constant repetition of a task builds the brain muscle memory and helps stimulate your brain connections.
Play Games: Playing mind sharpening games, like jigsaw puzzles, are an excellent way to strengthen the mind. Such games recruit cognitive abilities, research suggests.
This is a wonderful way to enjoy your free time while challenging and exercising your brain.
Meditation: Daily meditation helps calm your breathing and reduce anxiety. Meditation helps fine-tune your memory and increases the brain’s ability to process information and deal with everyday life triggers.
Eat right: Eating right is the best answer to take care of your physical and mental health. Our diet has a significant impact on brain function.
A healthy and balanced diet improves our ability to concentrate, think, learn, and execute our plans.
Exercise right: Exercising regularly is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It is good for your bones and muscles and keeps the brain healthy.
One can choose their favorite exercises to keep mind and body active like dance, yoga, even walking the dog is acceptable.
Learning a new skill: Strengthens the neural connections of the brain through activity. Learning a new skill also helps in improving your memory function.
Listen to or play music: Music is a terrific way to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, mood, and memory. Listening to music helps generate innovative solutions, boosts creative thinking, and enhances your capability to learn new skills.
Complex or new activities help in restoring long term memory.
We, at Smart Hug, strive to help people to find balance so you can enjoy your professional space as much as your personal space.
Our message to our readers is:
“It is never too late to learn something new.”
That’s all I have for now,
I will write to you soon.