As we go through the menopause and beyond it’s more important than ever to challenge our brains and, if like me, you suffer from meno-brain fog (the inability to remember the simplest things) it’s probably essential before it all turns to mush. Setting ourselves challenges and learning new things gives our brain a workout by creating new neurons (the nerve cells that carry messages around our bodies). According to the Brain Academy Brain Academy | Full Access | Brain Academy having more neurons gives us more energy, improves our mood, optimises our immune system and gives us more get up and go.
If you’ve got the urge to set yourself a big challenge, go for it. You’re never too old, as an inspiring article in the Observer illustrates. It features several elderly people who have taken on huge challenges later in life such a becoming a comedian at 89, a lawyer at 70+ and gaining a degree at 97. It’s never too late: elderly high-achievers | Ageing | The Guardian
Challenges don’t have to be big or involve making a significant commitment to make you feel inspired, motivated and energetic. Here are 5 small ones you can start today
- Develop a fitness habit whether it’s a walk twice a week, few stretches every morning or, when we’re all allowed out again, going for a swim once a week. If you make it a regular part of your routine it will eventually become a habit and something you always do like brushing your teeth and eating chocolate (or is that just me?) When it stops feeling like a challenge and is part of your routine then you might want to challenge yourself further by signing up for a sponsored walk, a swimathon or join an exercise class.
- Take a course to learn something new or learn more about a subject you’re interested in. Open Learn from the Open University has thousands of free courses at all levels and covers a multitude of subjects such as Latin, Marketing, astronomy, philosophy to name but a few. I have completed many of their courses and highly recommend them Open Learning – OpenLearn – Open University Udemy also offer a plethora of courses for very little money. Belly Dancing, Tai Chi, Aromatherapy. Sign up to the mailing list and look out for special offers. I’m currently working on a Tai Chi course which cost me £18, Online Courses – Anytime, Anywhere | Udemy
- Get creative. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. I’m hopeless at any sort of crafts but I love to have a go. I was ecstatic when I made my granddaughter a cushion out of a souvenir tee shirt that didn’t fit her anymore. Okay, so the stitching wasn’t great and the ribbons I glued on kept falling off but it could be seen to be a cushion. If like me, your brain doesn’t communicate with your hands, craft kits are brilliant for getting you started, Etsy, an online market place for all things crafty and quirky, has craft kits for pottery, mosaic coasters, candles and umpteen other arty projects. Etsy – Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone
- Grow something. Planting little seeds and then watching something poke through a couple of weeks later can be hugely satisfying. A window sill is all you need for growing herbs and you’ll soon see results for a little effort. You can also grow fruit and vegetables immediately from your kitchen. Check out the Nature and Garden website for simple but amazing ideas on how to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables from scratch Kitchen plants to grow from scratch – no need to go buy seeds! (nature-and-garden.com) Etsy has some great herb growing kits for under £15 Herb Garden Kit Grow Your Own Herb Seeds Kit Easily Grow 8 | Etsy
- Volunteer to help others. It doesn’t have to be a major commitment. Half an hour talking to someone on the phone or sending friendly postcards to care home residents can make a huge difference to the lives of other people and with a commitment of less than an hour a week. Age UK operate a Befriender Scheme – Volunteer as a telephone befriender | Age UK and Postcards of Kindness are a Facebook group who send friendly postcards to residents in care homes all over the country Postcards of Kindness – The Group | Facebook To make more of a commitment contact your local Volunteers Bureau or check out Home | Do-it.org volunteering made easy (do-it.org)