Nobody looks in the mirror and asks “Is my brain shrinking?’ I bet most people over 40, wake up and start to worry about ageing – losing their edge, sharpness and vibrancy – not to mention, their dewy, youthful complexion!
As women, our attitude is that it’s all downhill once you hit the age of 40! A friend of mine, who is 39, said to me the other day, “Everyone keeps asking me what am I going to do when I turn 40?” The expectations of where to go to now in her career have been playing on her mind, and she believes that her time is running out to achieve her career goals.
I have worked with many professional women in their 40’s, and 50’s who feel the same way. Anxieties about ageing and the pressure to perform in a hyper-competitive world are REAL and undermine your desire and determination for success.
Ageism begins early in our culture and according to one of the world’s leading authorities and pioneers in women’s health and wellness, Dr Christiane Northrup, MD, “your beliefs about what a certain age means, are far more powerful to affect your biology than you’ve ever been told.”
We are conditioned to believe that our brains peak at 18 – 26 years of age, and then it’s all downhill from there! Our memories fade, we become less dynamic, and our minds start to S-L-O-W down. However, research indicates that many brain functions actually increase with age. We can get SMARTER and SHARPER and remain as dynamic and influential as ever before.
By committing to living with vibrancy and healing, and embracing the creative energy that is within us, you can grow stronger, smarter and more empowered. You can release outdated beliefs and have a profound effect on your body and mind. So, whether you are in your 30’s, 40’s 50’ or 60’s or beyond, you can get brain fit and begin living with more vibrancy, health and connection as you get older.
Here 5 Ways to Grow SMARTER & SHARPER as You Age.
1. AEROBIC EXERSIZE
There is evidence showing that aerobic exercise is the key to new brain growth or neurogenesis. Neuroscientist Kirk Ericson from the University of Pittsburgh found that new growth in brain cells is enhanced by the production of the protein BDNF, produced during aerobic exercise.
The bottom line is that 20 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 – 6 times a week will produce BDNF in your body. It will stimulate the growth of new stem cells in your brain, which grow into fully functioning neurones and lead to better brain function.
2. VISUALISE & THINK POSITIVE
I am a huge advocate of the power of visualisation and positive thinking. Research shows that starting at around 40, you will have a greater capacity to remember positive experiences, thoughts and images over negative ones. You will become more capable of influencing others, controlling your thoughts, regulating your emotions and reading social situations. Your life experience, overcoming challenges and adversities, will also help you develop increasing verbal dexterity.
3. BRAIN FITNESS
As women, we pride ourselves on our ability to multitask. Most of us have been juggling home life and our career for years! And, if you’re thinking about developing a powerful personal brand, it potentially means a lot of multi-tasking. To make an impact, you do need to forge consistent professional imprint across multiple digital channels. So, multi-tasking can seem appealing. But, if you are trying to email while on the phone and surf your social media channels all at the same time, you are spreading your attention over multiple tasks and somethings got to give.
While you may feel you are an exceptional multi-tasker, it does have a downside to your mental fitness. Multi-tasking reduces your intelligence, increases your stress levels, and leaves you vulnerable to making mistakes. It places increased pressure on certain channels of the brain to process things, and can cause you to ‘crash and burn’.
So, how do you improve your focus and productivity without multi-tasking?
Our brains have become accustomed to fast passed digital environments and LOVE to multi-task. In fact, you will experience an emotional high when you do a lot at once. So, just as you have trained your brain to multi-task, you must re-train it to focus.
Experts suggest to start with just 5 – 10 minutes per day, turning off all distractions. Increase your ‘distraction free’ time a little every day. Start to organise your tasks into a sequence, doing the creative jobs first. Then, focus on each task independently in order of importance. By training your mind like a muscle, you will have less time for negative and unproductive thoughts, and you will regain your mental focus. Your stress levels will decrease, and you will avoid executive ‘burn out’.
4. SLEEP & REST
This one sounds obvious, but did you know, if you get a good night’s sleep, you will promote better brain health? Your memory and attention will improve, and you be able to reduce any negative emotions.
If you find it hard to get to sleep, try reducing artificial light, stop watching TV in bed and avoid using a
mobile phone or iPad before lights out.
5. LIVE WITH PASSION & PURPOSE
Believe it or not, having goals and feeling a sense of purpose in life, will help you to stay mentally fit. Studies have shown that people who lived life with goals, were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. With a clear purpose to work towards, you will be more determined, deal with challenges and adversity better, and be able to focus on the bigger picture.