How to Keep Your Brain Young

How to Keep Your Brain Young

How to Keep Your Brain Young

In 2022, there are an estimated 487,500 Australians living with dementia, a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. According to Dementia Australia, this number is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million by 2058 – unless we do something about it now. 

 

Too often, discussions around ageing focus on shrinking wrinkles, covering up grey hairs and expensive potions promising eternal youth. But no matter what the beauty buffs of Hollywood tell you, when it comes to ageing, we’ve got bigger fish to fry…  

 

From implementing healthy scrolling habits to picking up your knitting needles, there are plenty of simple things you can do to keep your brain young and reduce your risk of developing dementia – something we’re pretty passionate about here at ClassBento.  

Brain health tips

Alongside the usual suspects like eating well and exercising, taking time out to get crafty has proven cognitive benefits. In fact, it may even reduce your risk of developing dementia! That’s why it’s our mission to make creative workshops accessible to everyone – to help you switch off, unwind and experience the brain-boosting benefits of creativity. And it’s why we give $1 from every booking to Dementia Australia, to support and empower those impacted.

 

Whether you’re 27 or 72, actively looking after your brain health is as important as brushing your teeth, and with a few simple tips and tricks, it can become just as easy…

 

When you’re TikToking through your 20s…  

Person taking a photo

Let’s be real, it’s rare to find a twenty-something without a social media account (or three). Whether it’s dancing on TikTok or scrolling on Instagram, most of us spend a whopping 147 minutes per day on social networking sites. To put things into perspective, that’s the equivalent of watching The Fellowship of The Rings from start to finish. Every. Single. Day. That’s an epic amount of screen time. 

 

But hey, we’re not here to demonise your scrolling habits – we only want to help you build better ones. Truth is, there’s nothing wrong with a little social media deep dive, but here’s the catch: scrolling kills abstraction, the daydreaming state that helps us solve complex problems, experience epiphanies and gain new insights. In fact, it’s estimated that our attention span has shortened by a third in the last 15 years (so if you’re still reading, you’re doing well)! 

 

According to Dr. Fiona Kerr, founder of the NeuroTech Institute and author of The Art & Science of Looking Up, “it certainly feels like we are paying attention” when we’re checking notifications and jumping from app to app but “screens activate different parts of our brain” that ultimately mean more distraction and less abstraction.
 

We’re all for pinning DIY craft ideas and staying up to date with friends, but it pays to be intentional with your screen time. Up for the challenge? This week, rather than whipping out your phone when you’re waiting for your coffee, keep it firmly in your pocket and give your brain a real break.  

 

When you’re 30 and thriving…  

Katie and Jay

Whether you’re at the peak of your career, you’re finally taking that round-the-world trip or you’ve got three kids under six, now’s the time to put some healthy sleep habits in place. It’s not uncommon for 30-somethings to live by the popular catchphrase ”I’ll sleep when I’m dead” but here’s the unfortunate truth: “there is a recognised association between sleep disruption and cognitive decline and dementia,” says author and general practitioner, Professor Kerryn Phelps, in her recent book How To Keep Your Brain Young: Preserve memory, reduce dementia risk, harness neuroplasticity and restore function

 

Depending on your life stage, clocking eight hours of unbroken sleep might seem like a distant dream (hello, newborn baby!) but there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your nightly snooze.  

Avoid:

  • Alcohol – sorry, but your nightcap is doing more harm than good

  • Caffeine – cut off your supply of cappuccinos once the clock strikes midday

  • Screens – power down at least two hours before your head hits the pillow

  • Late meals – don’t let undigested food mess with your circadian rhythm

Enjoy:

  • A book – reading before bed can improve sleep quality  

  • Dim lights – set the mood and encourage your body to prepare for sleep

  • A sleep routine – maintain a regular sleep and wake time 

 

When you're flying through your 40s…

Dr Fiona Kerr Quote

You might not be as nimble as your 20-year-old self, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop moving altogether. According to Dementia Australia, “physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, stimulates the growth of brain cells and the connections between them, and is associated with larger brain volume.” In other words, you can walk, run and cycle your way to a bigger brain! On the other hand, living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to lower brain function, contribute to cognitive decline (think: confusion and memory loss) and increase your risk of developing dementia.

 

Now that you’re cruising through your 4th decade of life, there’s a good chance you’ve worked out what you like (and dislike) when it comes to moving your body. Cringe at the thought of a morning jog? Try swimming some laps instead. Love the endorphin rush that comes from weight-lifting? Keep pumping iron at every chance you get! Follow the recommendations in the National Physical Activity Guidelines and keep your body moving – it’ll do your brain a world of good.

 

When you hit half a century…

Pottery class

If retirement is on the cards in the coming years, it’s time to start investing your energy into something new! Transitioning into retirement is one of life’s most monumental shifts, but redirecting your sense of purpose into a new hobby can help to keep your brain firing while also supporting your mental wellbeing. Sure, you may have said goodbye to the 9-to-5, but that doesn’t mean you can’t progress in other areas of your life!

 

Now’s the time to sink your hands into a new hobby – be it cake decorating, gardening, wheel throwing or watecolour painting – and grow some new brain. Yep, you read right. While our brains do most of their growing early on in our lives, according to Dr. Kerr, “under the right conditions we can grow new brain at any stage of our lives. The ways to do this include adequate exercise and sleep, learning new things, eating the right foods to keep our microbiome healthy, and last but not least, direct human interaction.” So, what brain-boosting hobby will you choose? 

 

Say hello to your 60s – and beyond…

Woman knitting

In your sixties and seventies, it’s all about staying social! According to Dementia Australia, “social isolation and loneliness are closely related concepts and have been found to predict premture mortality, depression, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.” Thankfully, however, a 2019 analysis found that a little time with friends goes a long way! 

 

According to the research, at age 60 and beyond, regular social contact was found to boast protective benefits against dementia. The biggest takeaway? It’s catch-ups with friends that offer the most cognitive benefits. All the more reason to pop a regular coffee date in your diary or find a group hobby that you love. These crochet and knitting classes are a great place to start may even boost your psychological health and wellbeing

 

So there you have it, brainiacs! While there are a hundred and one ways to look after your most valuable asset, the simple lifestyle tweaks mentioned above are a great place to start and will have a profound impact on your health and wellbeing. The best part? It’s never too late start.

 

To discover more about reducing your risk of developing dementia, download Dementia Australia’s Healthy brain, healthy life booklet. 

 

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