For many of us, as we age, we think we start to lose our memories, become less sharp and not as focused, especially in business. So, then is keeping your mind sharp the key to business success?
But there are some who believe these thoughts aren’t always true.
With more than 55 years of combined experience in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry, Drs. Henry Emmons, M.D. and David Alter, Ph.D., say otherwise.
They offer a helpful guidebook for building and maintaining a sharp, healthy, and vibrant mind by combining the latest scientific research with age-old wisdom about resilience, mindfulness, and stress reduction.
Dr. Emmons is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness, and compassion practices into his work. He is the author of The Chemistry of Joy and The Chemistry of Calm. He is also a regular speaker and retreat leader, consulting for several colleges and organizations nationally.
David Alter, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist at Partners in Healing and the Institute for Brain-Behavior Integration whose practice combines mind-body medicine, strategic therapeutic interventions, and clinical hypnosis while integrating health psychology, neuropsychology, and clinical hypnosis. He also conducts talks, workshops, and retreats.
Here is some ideas on what to do now to have a healthy, vibrant mind in the future regardless of age. Strategies include:
Get busy. Staying in motion tones down the body’s stress response and creates “brain fertilizer” in the form of chemicals like a protective protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Exercising and moving the body mindfully (yoga, gardening, dancing—even cooking—works!) might better brain health, energy, and emotional resilience.
Sleep tight. Keep the bedroom or sleeping quarters dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable—and remove electronic devices. Get up at (or near) the same time every day, seek out bright light, don’t overdo the caffeine and alcohol, and stop any work at least 1-2 hours before retiring. Sleeping deeply before learning something new helps move that fresh information efficiently from short- to long-term storage, while sleeping after learning helps cement the new memories.
Eat better. Choose a varied diet of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, fiber, and probiotics—and minimal sugar. Eat more mindfully by slowing down, savoring each bite, and stopping when you’re satisfied, not stuffed. This will help protect against harmful compounds—linked to Alzheimer’s disease—called advanced glycemic end products (AGEs) and oxidative stress, a natural yet harmful byproduct of brain cells’ energy production.
Become curious. Pursue unexpected or spontaneous activities that take you out of your comfort zone, like attending a free show, art fair, sporting event, restaurant opening, or another event new on the scene. The ultimate goal doesn’t need to be finding an activity that you’ll fall in love with, but simply stimulating your senses by experiencing something new.
Pay it forward. Share wisdom as a parent, grandparent, colleague, tutor, or coach. The later stage of life is a time when creativity, moral thinking, problem solving, the softening of biases and prejudices, and self-acceptance mature.
Use these tips to help sharpen your mind at any age!