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Are you looking for ways to keep your brain healthy as you age? A new report by the Global Council on Brain Health, The Brain Well-Being Connection: Mental Well-Being and Brain Health, discusses how a positive sense of well-being is related to better brain health among people ages 50 and older.
Let’s start with a good understanding of mental well-being. The report defines mental well-being as “a person’s own experience of feeling good and functioning well.” This is your own judgement of how happy and healthy your life is. The report shows a strong relationship between mental well-being and cognitive health. In other words, people who feel good about themselves and live happy, purposeful lives report better thinking and reasoning skills. A positive mental well-being has also been correlated with a lower risk for dementia.
Many factors can influence your mental well-being, from genetics and cultural influences to your ability to manage stress and life experiences. Research shows our sense of mental well-being tends to increase after middle age. There are steps we can take to improve it, regardless of age, such as engaging in meaningful activities and living a healthy lifestyle.
Here are just a few of the practical tips the GCBH suggests to improve and maintain your sense of mental well-being. You can read more tips in the full report.
- Find things that make you laugh, such as humorous movies, books, or online videos. Laughter relieves stress, reduces tension and anxiety, and even lessens pain.
- Take deliberate breaks from social media, by avoiding smart phones during meals, for instance.
- Establish meaningful connections with people in your community, such as your neighbors.
- Become a regular volunteer. Volunteering helps provide a sense of purpose in life, which may ward off anxiety, depression, loneliness, and social isolation.
- Engage in regular exercise to benefit the body and mind. Connect to nature by walking, hiking or gardening, or take up a mindfulness activity such as yoga.
Just as you have ups and downs with your physical health as you age, you can have ups and downs with your mental health too. Try these tips to focus on positive mental well-being in your life. By taking an active role in your brain health, you may find you have many more up days than down days.