You work out, eat healthy food and even remember to floss afterwards! You’ve taken grown-up steps to ensure your body will age gracefully – Except for the occasional act of hedonism… But what about your mental health?
It’s never too late!

Abused and neglected, ironically we hardly ever think about it, yet it’s the most marvellous and complex object in the known universe. The brain slows down with age, but it doesn’t stop changing. Instead of being ‘hard-wired’ it can reroute and reorganise its own neural pathways. The brain can even workaround the permanent cell damage caused by a stroke, and some lost skills can be relearned.

The damage of bad habits

Why do some of the most together people stick with toxic relationships, jobs or addictions to avoid a future potentially worse than the present? Without an external event or a catalyst, to them, change seems either impossible or they feel unworthy of better options.

It’s like that issue you let slide because you didn’t want the conflict and consequently it got out of control, or the time you didn’t ask a question because you were too embarrassed, or that remarkable creation that will never see the light of day for fear of negative feedback… that feeling.

Everyone has their awkward sticking points, but making a habit of avoidance contributes to low self-esteem and a feeling of disempowerment. Before you know it, you’re in a rut, making excuses and feeling crappy about yourself.

The importance of fresh input and creation of good habits

The good news is, the brain can be trained to become more adaptable, resilient and healthy.

  • Set small achievable goals, ones that make you a little nervous
  • Go at your own pace, but test your limits – no hiding!
  • Practice consistently
  • Be aware of what is working well for you, what isn’t and why
  • Be prepared to learn more about yourself

Keep this up and you’ll feel ready to tackle the bigger stuff!

Social connectivity plays a vital role in our well-being. Remember that although family and work do provide social opportunities, there are benefits to cultivating social skills so you can flourish outside of your existing circles if circumstances change.

Lastly, one of the best things you can do is volunteer or become a mentor – it’s incredibly fulfilling. Not only does it provide a sense of purpose, it can open you up to encounters with people you wouldn’t normally meet in your everyday life, giving you a fresh outlook on society and an opportunity to make friends.

7 ways to take better care of your mental health and brain fitness

Those routine tasks – make them creative!
Try something new: foods, activities, art
Exercise, if you already do, apply steps 1 and 2!
Socialise outside of your usual networks
Volunteer, or do something for others
Be aware when your attention is drifting and refocus it