As I approached my 50th birthday, I became increasingly concerned with my mental health. I knew that as we age, mental fitness is every bit as important as physical fitness.
Various studies indicate that the brain is an organ that acts like a muscle. As such, it is thought that the brain can be exercised. Widespread reports also suggest that exercising the brain may have the potential to increase and preserve intelligence and other important functions of the brain.
Based on current scientific data, I created a mental wellness plan for myself. In devising this personal plan, I took into consideration my interests and passions. The key was to challenge myself by learning new things. At the same time, it was also essential to engage in those areas and activities that would capture and hold my attention. Finally, the new knowledge and skills should ideally lead to further learning and mental mastery.
Reading and Writing
I make time (several hours a day) to read news articles, high quality opinions and non-fiction books. I usually pick difficult and controversial subjects that ultimately promote original thinking on my part. I then write about the subject in a journal, blog or article. Writing requires me to organize and convey my thoughts in a clear, concise and comprehensive manner.
Workshops, Seminars and Lectures
One or two times a week, I attend various workshops, lectures and seminars that are held in my community. I have had a life-long interest in philosophy, spirituality, metaphysics and esoteric studies. The extra time I now have in my life allows me to pursue those interests in greater depth.
Most of these events are experiential in nature. They include discussions of thought-provoking topics and individual, partner or group exercises. The exercises facilitate interaction with others. These events usually require participants to quickly process and respond to new information. They also tend to spark a desire for further study.
I usually go to the gym two times a week. Several times a month, I also take a variety of dance, yoga and guided meditation classes. This is in addition to exercise (pole dance fitness) and yoga practice that I regularly do at home. Taking classes from and with others is fun and inspirational. Exercise and physically demanding activities are known to release endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are thought to promote feelings of well-being, and to naturally relieve pain and stress.
Some Final Thoughts …
I have never felt happier nor more physically or mentally fit in my life. I strongly believe that I have discovered what works best for me. However, everyone is different. What appeals to and works for one person may not necessarily appeal or work for someone else.
In most areas of the country, there are many opportunities for seniors in their communities. Community colleges, private schools and local Meetup.com groups offer countless possibilities for learning, socializing, traveling, pursuing hobbies and variously becoming involved. Many of these activities are free or require only a small monetary investment.
I think it is essential for every senior to create their own personal program based on their individual interests, their own financial circumstances and physical abilities. Ideally, the program should be fun and engaging, and yet be increasingly challenging. I (and many others like me) are proof that today’s aging Baby Boomers can enjoy a mentally stimulating, physically active and personally rewarding lifestyle!