You probably already know that as you age, it’s important to stay physically active to maintain health and mobility. But it doesn’t end there. Keeping mentally active is important, too. When you were working everyday, your brain was forced to learn new skills, socialize, and stay sharp. When you’re retired, you enjoy a lot of well-deserved relaxation. But has your mental activity started to nap, too? If so, that’s not healthy.
So, what’s a retiree to do? Working hard for years means you’ve earned the slower pace retirement offers. But if you want to keep your brain sharp—and who doesn’t?—you must find other ways to stimulate your mind. Our ideas are below.
Did you love to paint before life got busy with children, work, and everything else? Pick up a paint brush again! Were you a budding musician but haven’t played the piano in years? Sit down on the bench and ask your fingers to remember the keys and notes. Rediscovering old hobbies is incredibly satisfying, especially if it comes with a dose of nostalgia or warmth for those who’ve helped you along the way. Beyond that, picking up your hobby again will spark those neurons and stimulate your brain to remember what may have been misplaced, such as how to play a favorite piece of music.
If you’re ready to branch out and discover even more about the world, look for a new hobby or two. Book clubs, bird watching, knitting, hiking, scrapbooking, and woodworking are a few more options— the list is endless! If you need somewhere to start, check out your local community center, senior center, or speak to other retiree friends. Whatever you choose, you’ll be learning and practicing a new skill, and that’ll keep your brain engaged.
If you want to stay mentally sharp and maintain contact with your family and friends, staying current on the latest technology is a must. No need to permanently affix your phone to your hand, but do continue to learn about new technologies as they become relevant to you and your lifestyle. Facetime, Zoom, social media, and email are all great applications to learn about and dive into, especially in this digital age when many families don’t live close but enjoy using a virtual platform to “get together” often. Keep in touch with grandchildren and learn about their tech faves, and you might even get the Coolest Grandparent Around Award!
We’re all grateful for the virtual platforms that help us manage COVID’s social distancing safety practices. But vaccines, boosters, tests, and masks are making it safer to spend more time in person with friends and family, and that’s a good thing. Seeing the people you love in the flesh is a different experience than seeing them through a computer screen. Socializing is incredibly important for mental and emotional health as well as the physical health of your brain. In fact, humans are social animals by nature, and it can be detrimental to our health if we feel lonely or isolated for extended periods of time.
Socializing, besides being fun, can also sharpen memory and improve cognitive function. Beyond that, human touch through hugs or hand holding is vital in helping our brains feel safe and nurtured—two very important aspects of emotional health and well-being. So go ahead, maintain a social schedule with the people you love or even new friends you’ve met. Just don’t forget to stay safe while you’re doing it.
Exercise will never stop being important, no matter how old you are. Get up and get moving by taking daily walks, joining group fitness classes, or even trying out a new activity like ballroom dancing. Not only does this keep you mobile, it also improves circulation throughout your entire body, including your brain. The great news is that you aren’t as busy, since you don’t have to go to work, so you can fill some of that time with a new exercise routine help you maintain your health mentally and physically.
Retirement shouldn’t mean sitting around the house. Instead, keep your brain active by engaging in new learning opportunities, socializing, staying up-to-date on new technology, and exercising to maintain your physical health. If you’re looking for a good place to try all of that, visit us at Hancock Wellness Center, where we’ve got space to accommodate everything from workouts to group social activities.