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This June, during Alzheimer’s/Brain Health Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging all Americans to make brain health an important part of their return to normal. The Association offers these suggestions to promote brain health and to help restore mental well-being:
Recommit to Brain-Healthy Basics
Regular cardiovascular exercise helps increase blood flow to the body and brain, and there is strong evidence that regular physical activity is linked to better memory and thinking. A heart-healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables help ensure a well-balanced one.
Maintaining a regular, uninterrupted sleep pattern benefits physical and psychological health, and helps clear waste from the brain. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night and try to keep a routine bedtime.
Helping others during the pandemic may not only make you feel better, but it may be good for you as well. One study found that adults over age 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being. Volunteer in your community, run errands or deliver meals to a home-bound senior or donate to a favorite cause.
Return to Normal At Your Own Pace
Meaningful social engagement may support cognitive health. Engage your mind by doing activities that stump you, like completing a jigsaw puzzle or playing strategy games. Or challenge yourself further by learning a new language or musical instrument.
Experts warn that excessive stimulation coming from social media sources and news reports can add to our already heightened anxiety levels. To avoid technology overload, set limits on your screen time, avoid carrying your phone everywhere, and disconnect from digital devices at bedtime.
Control Your Stress
In small doses, stress teaches the brain how to respond in healthy ways to the unexpected, inconvenient or unpleasant realities of daily life. Prolonged or repeated stress, however, can wear down and damage the brain, leading to serious health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, memory loss and increased risk for dementia.
Meditation, exercise, listening to music or returning to a favorite activity you have missed during the pandemic are just some ways to manage stress. Do what works best for you.