Of course, exercise and diet are extremely important to your overall health.  Exercising your mind is just as important.  Studies have shown that lack of mental activity may lead to challenges such as Alzheimer’s.   This risk is even more important for people who have retired from their occupation. 

My Situation

Although I am still engaged in my business, I have had concerns about staying mentally active during non-working hours.    After some research, I found several suggestions.   The research suggests you should spend quiet time reading, working crossword puzzles, and writing letters.  I found this information helpful, but I needed something more structured than just increasing these activities.

The Plan

I reviewed my spare time and identified my activities. I realized that I spent too much time watching television and reviewing my email.  I believe some leisure time is good, but I needed to spend a significant amount of time doing activities that exercised my mind.   

After reviewing the possible activities, I realized that I would gain other benefits from certain activities in addition to exercising my mind.   Reading news information that interests me and contacting friends to express points of view helped me mentally, but also helped socially.

I realized that watching television was the major activity that I needed to control.  I reviewed the programs I watched.  Of course, there are times when I just needed to relax, and it did not matter what I watched.   I knew I would not reduce the amount of time I watch television unless I planned other activities and had the discipline to complete those other activities. 

My wife does not have this challenge because she spends a significant amount of her free time following up on Facebook.  She maintains her social relationships, learns about new adventures, and keeps a close relationship with her family.  I did not have strong social activities, and I do not use Facebook regularly.

Solution

I have always been interested in government and politics.  I committed to spending time reading articles on my computer.  I tried to find points on both sides of an argument.   Then I communicated with friends and colleges regarding the news information.  I found this approach very stimulating. 

Then I created a schedule on my computer for weekly calls to friends and family.  This approach has been a much better use of my time and I do notice an improvement in my short term memory and ability to analyze challenges. 

Published by Jim Brandt

Jim Brandt was an all-conference college football player and served as a Marine Corps pilot during the Vietnam War. He also started a software company and served as an executive for the fifth-largest bank in the United States. Brandt won the Democratic party nomination for Congress twice. He is married and has three children.