Did you hear the one about the top three signs that you’re getting old? The first is loss of memory…and I can’t remember the other four. If you are a senior, it’s doubtful anyone needs to tell you that memory loss is no joke. But it’s always good to keep your sense of humor about life’s struggles, and it can also help to take steps to change things for the better. Researchers say it is possible to sharpen your mind and memory by improving your mental focus. We believe residents will be interested to know that you can improve mental focus with various activities for the mind, the body, and even in your home.
Check out the following tips for strengthening mental focus:
Mind Your Space
Researchers have found that living in an uncluttered environment helps to sharpen mental focus. The experts say that clutter screams nonstop for your attention in a way similar to a toddler screaming for the attention of his mother. Our brains respond to the things which surround us. When task performance has been measured against organized or disorganized stimuli, the results clearly showed that in an uncluttered and organized home or office, we are distracted less often, are less irritable, and – here is the main point – more productive. These researchers have concluded that to be able to focus and to process information as effectively as possible, clear the clutter from your environment.
Mind Your Thoughts
Did you know that you can choose your thoughts? You don’t have to go along with whatever thought or idea falls into your mind. Getting rid of clutter of the mind is also an essential part of establishing mental focus. The following are tips for what to do with your mind that can result in better focus:
- Whatever the task you are engaged in, keep your attention on it. If your mind wanders, re-focus your thoughts back onto your current activity. This will help you train your mind to be still and calm.
- Practice better focus by finding a project that interests you enough to steadily concentrate on it. Taking up a new hobby breaks you out of your normal routine and increases your brain activity and focus. Consider concentrating on finding something of interest in the most mundane of chores. Another good way to practice is to simply have a conversation with someone, really listen to what they have to say, and ask pertinent questions.
- Become aware of the things that distract you, and eliminate distractions as much as possible. For example, you may need to unplug your Internet connection, silence your phone, or listen to instrumental music that helps you tune out sounds that are disturbing your concentration.
- Meditation is a practice with many health benefits, including greater mental clarity and peace of mind. You can meditate for just a few minutes every day in a wide variety of ways. You don’t empty your brain during meditation. Instead, you focus your brain first on breathing and posture, whether upright or lying down, and on preventing your mind from wandering. The calm produced by meditation leads to better focus.
Mind Your Body
As strange as it may seem, it is how you care for your body that most affects how sharp your brain is. The following are more tips for improving focus:
- Your brain is about 90% water, and it functions far better when you are well-hydrated than when you are dehydrated. Start your day with two glasses of refreshing water, and then be sure to drink the minimum of 8 to 10 glasses every day.
- Regular exercise has been proven to enhance brain function significantly. Physical activity helps to enhance neuron connection; increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain; and increases serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate levels, resulting in improved cognition.
- Get plenty of sleep because lack of proper rest decreases production of chemicals in your body that regulate your ability to focus.
- Eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs digest more slowly and provide your brain with a steady energy supply. Examples of simple carbs to avoid: Candy, sugar, white rice, dessert, and sugary carbonated drinks. Examples of complex carb: Apples, brown rice, carrots, dill pickles, oat bran, multi-grain bread, oatmeal, whole meal pasta, and low fat yogurt.
No need to be discouraged if you’ve noticed a decline in mental focus. You can try these strategies for improving mental sharpness as well as many others that experts recommend.
Discovery Village at Castle Hills offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 972.810.0200.