At a recent conference about women’s health and the brain, the acronym, “MENSS,” was presented by Lynn Posluns, founder and president of Women’s Brain Health Initiative. Her mission is about reminding us the ways to PROTECT our brain health. Although we all know the importance of these elements, her acronym is a great reminder.
Mental stimulation: Learn new things to create new neuropathways. Don’t do the same old thing over and over. Go out of your comfort zone. Study something challenging and get that brain fired up through learning. Be curious and you will learn. Learn about people, things, places, cultures, religions, sports, art, architecture, food, science…you name it. Something you may never have known was of interest can stimulate you. Learn a new skill…exercise, dance, draw, recite poetry.
Exercise: Aerobic exercise, along with saying aloud positive affirmations, can help keep your brain vital while encouraging ongoing brain development. Mix up your routine so that you need to learn new movements or steps. Walking, stretching, moving your body in many ways helps to keep your brain engaged.
Nutrition: Eat more of a Mediterranean diet (plant–based foods like vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts, olive oil, some fish and poultry, less dairy) and stay away from sugar and processed foods to keep your brain healthy.
Sleep: Stay off the screens before bed and sleep sleep sleep. The brain needs to refresh at night, clearing out toxins (particularly beta-amyloid protein) that build up when we are awake. Develop a sleep ritual that ensures enough sleep each night.
Stress Reduction: Meditation, relaxation, visualization, laughter, time for yourself are all essential for keeping our brains healthy.
Social Engagement: Be with people and connect. Engage with people you encounter each day, like the bus driver, the person at the coffee shop, the door man of your building. Call and talk to people you know as be open to making new social connections.