Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Play Mind Games with Yourself to Stay Mentally Sharp

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Play Mind Games with Yourself to Stay Mentally Sharp

Article excerpt

By Wina Sturgeon

Tribune News Service

It is hard to admit to yourself that as you pass middle age, your brain power may start to decline. This isn't dementia; it's a normal part of life. In fact, there's even a name for the condition: ARCD, or Age Related Cognitive Decline.

A slew of commercials and advertisements have recently begun to offer products that promise to improve memory or increase brain power. Fitness experts claim that brain decline can be delayed or prevented by physical activity, and there exists a plethora of studies showing this to be true.

However, little recognition is given to what may be the actual cause of ARCD: putting your life on automatic pilot. This happens when certain habits become so ingrained that you don't have to think about them. You can carry out actions without ever having to pass them through your brain. You drive to work or home, or take public transportation automatically, without having to think about it. You eat the same easytoprepare breakfasts or dinners without going outside your realm of regular food to prepare something different.

As actions become more and more automatic, the brain retreats and becomes less involved in your daily thinking process. To keep your mind sharp, you will need to break free of the tether of living on automatic pilot. Here's a test: without looking down, think about what socks you are wearing. Can you remember which pair of pants or jeans you put on when you got dressed, without looking to see? If you can't remember, or if you have to concentrate to think about it for a bit, you may have started to put dressing for the day on automatic pilot.

Remember, the mind is like a muscle. With use, it gets stronger.

Look for areas of your life in which you can increase the participation of your mind. …

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