Spring: Renewal time for your brain

Are you counting down the days to spring? You are not alone. Many of us are longing for warmer temperatures so we can put the heavy coat and snow shovel away. Besides the more pleasing temperatures, spring is oftentimes thought of as a time of renewal and new beginnings. With a few more weeks of winter left there is time to think about what we can do for some personal renewal.

Over the years, you've heard the im portance of staying physically active to prevent obesity, improve heart health, etc. Now, it seems healthier professionals are stressing more than ever the importance of brain health.

Memory loss is not an automatic side effect of aging, even though many associate the two together. To work your brain you want to find things that are challenging and new. This will help keep your memory sharp. You can start simply by altering what you have for breakfast every morning or the route you take to the grocery store. Just the effort of having to focus on something new will help jar your brain awake.

Next, look for a real mental challenge. Studying a period of history, learning to play an instrument or speaking another language are ideal activities for maintaining brain health. Resources can be found through the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning, the Dorset Historical Society or the Mark Skinner Library. The options are almost endless in this area.

You may want to consider some thing completely new to you, like meditation.

The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that include techniques designed to promote relaxation, to build internal energy and to develop compassion.

There are so many benefits associated with meditation, including diminishing age-related effects on brain matter and maintaining cognitive functioning.

Research has shown that meditation can also lower heart attack risk, reduce stress hormones, combat loneliness and ease caregiver stress.

Locally, meditation groups can be found through the Shambhala Center in Manchester and at the Bennington Free Library. Also, a new meditation class specifically for seniors who have never meditated before is forming at Equinox Village. Visit manchestershambhala.org or equinoxvillage.com for more information. Or call the Bennington Free Library at 802-442-9051.

Kylee Ryan is the wellness coordinator at Equinox Village, a retirement community in Manchester Center.


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