I Was Wrong
I admit it.
I was wrong.
Or maybe just misguided.
I have since been corrected, or elucidated, or just shown a different approach toward ROUTINES. I wrote about how I love my morning routine--that calm time when I can gradually raise my energy levels until I’m ready to power through the rest of the day.
Then I attended an online session about brain health run by the Alzheimer’s Society local branch. They advise NOT to stick to your routines.
That rattled my core.
The lovely young women who ran the session said that changing up a routine challenges a brain to make new connections. I was flabbergasted. The structures my habits created could actually be detrimental to a long-term-intellectual life?!
Yikes! But I love my routines – they help me remember things I usually forget to do!
The session suggested that by doing things differently your brain makes new connections. It builds new pathways. That helps it grow, rather than shrink. In the session (https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/im-living-dementia/living-well-dementia), five things were recommended:
1. Stay healthy and active while reducing stress.
2. Eat well – to reduce inflammation and fight infections.
3. Get enough rest.
4. Stay socially engaged.
5. Challenge your brain.
Staying active is easy for me because I love to be outside. I regularly walk my dogs, ride my bike and swim in the summer, ski in the winter.
Eating well: I follow my mother’s ways of preparing meals with all the food groups and, since hubby has been on the Keto diet, we have more vegetables and less carbs for dinner.
Snoozing while watching TV is a regular thing for me, followed by a good night’s sleep. Socialization is balanced with my introverted-ness.
So that leaves challenging my brain.
That used to happen continually at work. But I’m not at the beck-and-call of others these days, so my work is self-motivated. And lately my motivation has been usurped by the desire to be outdoors, in the garden, wandering the woods and neighbourhood with the pups, and cycling. And following routines.
TIME TO CHANGE IT UP!
SIDE NOTE: Mom has Alzheimer’s. I’m terrified I’ll get it too. Mom is in a long term care home. She is physically healthy; her memory has mostly disappeared. This disease eroded the wonderful parent I knew. Gone is the woman who had a stimulating job, multiple goals, and dreams. She had been an amazing role model—nurturing and intelligent and fun-loving. Now she needs others to patiently make it possible for her get through her day. I don’t want to end up that way.
Tears bunch behind my eyes when I think of the personality she used have—her exuberance, energy, and intellect. Now she’s a wind-swept shell of herself.
I’m going to mentally challenge myself AT LEAST once a day. I’ll search for new experiences, and hopefully stimulating ways to do things. I’ll turn off my auto-pilot by searching out new and different things to learn about. I’ll do crossword puzzles, sudokus, visual puzzles, and brain teasers as a way to cross-train my brain. (Here's a link to the Alzheimer's site with links to play games that they change each day.
This past week, I joined Jami Attenberg's two-week challenge to write a thousand words a day. When I’m inspired, that’s easy. But now, when I’m not-so-inspired, it’s been more daunting. Yet it’s probably just what I need to reignite my writing spark. I'm almost a week in and have been fairly successful. Stories have been written, a travel diary for a short mini-vacation to Prince Edward County has been coupled with random thoughts and rants.
Another challenge I will try is to research something I haven’t paid a lot of attention to throughout my life: insects or dinosaurs or astronomy. Or there's calculus, and complicated, multi-syllabic names of medicines and Latin names of creatures and plants....Whatever mental challenges could contribute to new stories.
New skills would be a challenge - like how to be a falconer or a deep-sea diver…or maybe just how to create a different dish for dinner.
Stay tuned and stay healthy!
What challenges should I try? What have you found to be an interesting challenge or a way to change your mental routines?