5 tips for keeping your brain fit

Brain exercises can benefit even the healthiest people, so we asked Anne Arundel Medical Center Rehabilitation Services speech therapist Rebecca Gondak to give us her top five strategies for tuning up a tired brain. They might seem simple, but they work.

Keep a Daily Planner

Whether it’s electronic or an old-fashioned book, a planner can be a crucial brain saver. “Too many people try to keep all their information in their heads and it just doesn’t work,” says Gondak. If you are forgetting appointments or simply having trouble staying organized, a planner is a simple solution.

Take Brain Breaks

Brains get tired, a condition known as “cognitive fatigue.” So instead of getting frustrated when you can’t concentrate or your mind wanders, take a break, says Gondak. She recommends starting out by taking brain breaks at 10am and 2pm each day. “Sit quietly, close your eyes, stop all activity and check your cognitive energy level,” she says. Even five minutes of relaxation can give your brain a big boost.

Have a Place for Everything and Everything In Its Place

This age-old advice still holds true, says Gondak. In our demanding, stressful world, it’s easy to forget the little things. Gondak recommends making a list of the most common items you misplace and then designate a place for them that’s easy and obvious. A basket by the door for keys and the phone?

Remember How to Remember

Do you have trouble remembering people’s names? Rather than focus on your frustration, think instead of what you can recall. Can you remember how many syllables the name has?  Does the name remind you of something else? What does the name sound like?  Instead of giving up when the answer doesn’t come to you immediately, these ways of “thinking around the name” help recall and will lead you to your answer says Gondak.

Connect the New With the Old

Remembering new information can be hard, especially as we age. Gondak says one of the best ways to help recall new memories is to connect them with something you are already familiar with. “Associations spark recall,” says Gondak.

Originally published July 9, 2015. Last updated Aug. 12, 2019.

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