One of the most effective ways to fight dementia and memory loss is to learn something new (Harvard Health).
Learning something new keeps your mind engaged and active. It requires focused attention. It also requires effort.
According to cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, each time you learn a new skill, you strengthen the connections between parts of your brain, which means your brain works at a higher level.
If learning a new skill is frightening to you, start small. Anything you can do to stretch your brain muscles is helpful.
This includes experiencing new things. “Each time you learn something new your brain builds new pathways” (Ohio State University). So get out of your comfort zone and try something different.
- Visit a museum
- Take a class
- Read a newspaper
- Attend a theater production
- A sport
- Organize your home
Strive for More
The harder you have to work to learn something, the more benefit to your brain health. Instead of simple activities that focus on one or two pathways in the brain, “challenging activities strengthen entire networks in the brain” (Kaufman).
Take dancing, for example. “Dancing integrates several brain functions at once — kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity” (Stanford dance instructor Richard Powers).
- Another language
- Digital photography
- Playing an instrument
Don’t Forget to Sleep
Getting enough sleep improves your ability to remember what you’ve learned (National Institutes of Health). This is because “our brains store memories and new information from the previous day” (Science News for Students).
So be sure to do your best to sleep well both before and after learning a new skill!