Some clients come to me and ask for help with improving of maintaining their cognitive skills. I use self-hypnosis to help me to concentrate and focus and I teach these clients to do the same. However, we all know, our cognitive skills seem to decline with age. I have seen then evidence of cognitive decline in my own parents and therefore I have become extremely curious in brain fitness. How do we keep ourselves cognitively fit throughout life? I would like to share with you some of the information I have uncovered.
First, to a certain degree, our genetic makeup dictates our cognitive capacities. However, remember, our genes are not our destiny and there are lifestyle choices within our control, which affect our cognitive health. Lifestyle choices that affect our cognitive abilities include nutrition, exercise, presenting ourselves with cognitive challenges, and reducing our stress.
For instance, our weight and nutrition influence our cognitive skills. During regular medical checkups, make sure your doctor checks your weight, blood pressure, and glucose and cholesterol levels because unfortunately, there is growing evidence that obesity is associated with impaired cognitive function. However, researchers are not clear on the cause and effect relationship. It could be that obesity leads to impaired cognitive functions, or that impaired cognitive functions leads to obesity, or it could be that psychological effects of obesity, such as depression, lead to impaired cognitive functions. For a healthy mind and heart many experts recommend the Mediterranean diet which includes; eating your meals with family or friends, eating a generous amount of fruits and vegetables, consuming healthy fats such as olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt, eating small portions of nuts, drinking red wine, in moderation of course, eating very little red meat, and eating fish or shellfish at least twice a week. Click here for an excellent guide by www.positivehealthwellness.com on the Mediterranean diet and its positive impact on our cognitive health.
Emerging evidence shows that regular exercise positively affects brain function. It is important to remember with exercise that no one size fits all. Each persons needs are unique and it may be important for you to consult your doctor before starting an exercise regime. The goal is to have your body feel as if it has done something on a regular basis; consistency is the key.
It is important to keep the brain active by giving it cognitive challenges. The brain is like a muscle, which needs regular exercise. Long-term activities repeated repetitively unfortunately do not count. For an activity to benefit the brain, it must be a new and novel challenge. Think about the things you always meant to do but never had the opportunity such as learning a new language, or learning to play a musical instrument, or taking up painting, or dancing. Unfortunately, doing the daily crossword puzzle for thirty years will not help maintain cognitive fitness. Doing crosswords or Sudoku puzzle will help only if you have not done them in the past. The key is new and novel. Fortunately, there is a growing assortment of computer programs, which offer diverse and challenging cognitive activities.
We all know that it is difficult to think under pressure but with chronic stress, our cognitive skills steadily decline. Just like exercise, different people prefer different ways to manage the stress in their lives. For some it may involve mediation or yoga, for others exercises such as hiking or biking work well. Whatever it is, it is important to find an activity or activities that that works for you to manage stress in your life.
All of this, of course, is easier said than done; however, the hypnosis and imaginal work I do can help you make healthy lifestyle choices by increasing your motivation to engage in healthy activities and assisting you in overcoming blocks that prevent you from doing so. If you would like to learn more about brain and cognitive fitness please feel free to call (805) 637-4263 or send me an email.