Challenging The Grey Matter!

May 17, 2017

For a number of years now I have reached for a notepad (paper or electronic) when I am invited to a meeting, asked to prompt a reminder or simply need to remember a pending action. This act of recording all ‘to-do’ items provides me with mental release, it bestows a sense of relaxation, I am under no pressure to exercise my mind’s recollection capabilities risking that something important will fall through the cracks.  I will always continue this approach for the control it provides, however as I approached my fifties the long-standing adage ‘use it or lose it’ began tugging on my thoughts. When this tugging escalated to thudding I accepted it was time to address this mental agility crack before it expanded to a gap (yes something else for the to-do list!).

I am a huge advocate of the brain training applications – a search of the App Store shows numerous ‘apps’ available for iPhone and android devices. I chose two of the more popular brands and have remained loyal with long standing subscriptions. Everyday access of these ‘apps’ presents a random selection of games that challenge many intellect facets (problem solving, mental agility, memory, focus, coordination, language etc.)  I have unpaid subscriptions which suits me perfectly, it just means that a couple of games are held back each day but the combination of two ‘apps’ rewards me with seven brain games which takes an average of 15 minutes to complete.  I treasure this daily ritual and have even been known to fist-pump with excitement when presented with a series of games that lend to my strength and at the other extreme groan out load when given memory testing which I dread.  The ‘apps’ calculate personal statistics so you get the added benefit of self-awareness of your strengths and areas for development.   I also get a kick out of knowing how many continuous days I have completed, my record is 159 which was shattered when I deprioritised this activity when on a holiday.  

I have also always enjoyed books and reading but have gone for long periods without a book as companion.  To remedy this I decided to commit to a book club for both the accountability of a deadline for completion and also interest in others perspectives on the same story.  My google search for local book clubs did not reveal any at times or in the locality that suited.  I happened to express my aspiration of joining a book club during a social gathering and was extremely fortunate and delighted to find a group of women who also shared my desire.  Right then and there we committed and I am proud to say our Book Club has been meeting regularly now for over 2 years.  We have found the informal approach works for us, it has become as much about friendship and fun as it has been about the books which I predict will protect the longevity of the group.

Brain training is a solitary activity but so is reading books, the added dimension of in-depth group discussion about story development, characters depth, author’s motivations and so on provides an additional mental work-out!

Author Bio: Sharon McAvoy

The lead up to turning 50 impacted Sharon McAvoy more than she anticipated. Entering this ‘afternoon’ life stage has led to reflections and plans for navigating the ‘evening’ life-stage.  In her articles Sharon explores and shares her unique perspectives and plans to take on ageing.


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