I turned 40 this year. It wasn’t something that I was particularly looking forward to I must admit. It’s a time when you tend to look back and ponder over what you have achieved in life so far. It’s also a time when you look ahead and start thinking more about your health. I looked to the older generations of my family to see if there’s anything that I should be actively trying to avoid. The good thing about ‘big’ birthdays is the reflection can lead to positive change, a lot like the ‘New Year effect’ when people pledge to make changes for the better in their lives.
I know that the older generations of men in my family are prone to heart disease. Thankfully the standard ’40 years old health check’ that the NHS are now offering in my area showed that my cholesterol level is low and that I am healthy. I have just this week joined the local gym and I’m enjoying getting fit and active, feeling the benefits physically and mentally already.
But there’s more to think about than just the physical side of things, there’s mental wellbeing to consider too. My nan passed away a few years back, suffering from dementia in the years leading to her death. Dementia isn’t something that I have had first-hand experience of, but my mother has, first with her mum and now with her best friend. She’s talked to me in length about how it’s affected those she is close to and it’s the one thing that I am most scared of happening to me. Confusion and helplessness frighten me.
I used to spend time each day doing the suduko and crossword puzzles in the newspaper. Not long, just 20 minutes, but it’s not something that I have bothered with for a couple of years. Having recently read this article, Use it or lose it: How to train your brain from Legal & General I’ve decided to go back to puzzles, amongst other things. The article explains how that when we were children we were constantly learning new things and that now in later life we use the skills we have learnt and seldom improve of them or learn new things, not stretching our brain like before.
We often think about keeping fit and getting healthy and that’s promoted a lot in the media, but there’s less promotion about keeping our minds healthy and alert. Ways we can keep mentally well include :
Taking the time to learn new skill - I think blogging counts!
Enrolling in a course - I love Skillshare for this, they have a range of free and paid for courses for creative types.
Reading and completing puzzles - I must try and read something that challenges me a little.
Staying socially active - meeting new people and interacting always leads to learning new things and putting to use the social skills that many introverted blogging types can often use so little.
Meeting up with people is something that I’ve enjoyed more and more over the past year, just this week I have met with a blogging friend at a lavender farm, and regular readers may recall the recent Meet Ups at National Trust's Ashridge Estate and RHS Wisley. And of course it's not just you that benefits from making new friends, your children do too!
Do you have any top tips for keeping an active and healthy mind? Do share them in the comments below.