As we reach mid-life our brain becomes smaller, lighter, slower and has more difficult switching tasks. Some of this is the loss of myelin which is a super insulator that carries information along our brain cells.
However, there are specific steps we can take to minimize the impact that these physical brain changes have on our functioning.
Healthy Optimism is an important component of that. Our brain (physical organ) and our mind (thoughts) function as one. The thoughts you have change your brain, and brain functioning impacts on your thoughts. Research shows our life experiences change how our genes function and so by reducing stress we are actually changing our genes.
Understanding that reducing my stress changes my brain chemistry and genetic makeup, has been a powerful motivation for me to take the steps necessary to reduce my stress level. I have been using Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to use my mind to change my brain functioning. By being mindful and observing and accepting my experiences, I have been more focused on what is meaningful and beneficial to me.
A sense of humor and perspective is important as I teach in my classes—
As we get older in terms of memory it’s important to know when to hold them and when to fold them. Or as a friend said to me, ‘I have a terrible memory, I remember everything”
It’s also important not to attribute momentary lapses in memory to aging. As author Judith Horstman says “It’s not a problem when you forget where you left your keys or glasses, it’s a problem when you forget what they are for.”