Worried about your aging brain? This column will teach you how to increase the odds of maintaining cognitive health as you age. First, I’ll describe in brief recent scientific research and suggest how to apply it to your life. I’ll give you a link so you can read further and evaluate for yourself. You will also get an exercise to try at home. Let’s get started…
If constant news of the rising Alzheimer’s crisis has left you bracing in fear of your mind slipping away, you are likely making things worse. Ironically the mere act of bracing for the worst increases your chances of the worst happening. Here’s how. Sitting atop your kidneys are two tiny adrenal glands whose job it is to save your life. Perceive a threat, say a veering car, and your adrenal glands produce cortisol and adrenaline that prepare you to spontaneously leap to safety. Your leap triggers a hormone rebalance, but a chronic sense of threat causes cortisol to build up, increasing your risk of a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and dementia. You need to learn ways to control it.
Exercise #1: Breathing to reduce stress
- Sit on a solid chair; feet flat on the floor; eyes closed.
- Drop your shoulders in a sigh.
- With two fingers press lightly inward on the (diaphragm) muscle an inch
below your sternum.
- Slowly breath in through the nose for 6 seconds pushing the diaphragm
outward against your fingers. Don’t allow your shoulders to rise.
- Breathe out through the mouth for 2 seconds.
- Repeat 3 to 4 minutes.
Explore further: The Great Brain Workout