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How Writing Every Day Keeps Your Mind Sharp

My name is Cindy Greenfield, and I am a nationally recognized leader with over 30 years in the senior housing industry. I came to the senior housing market after receiving a BS in hospitality management from Washington State University and spent a number of years working in the hospitality industry. It was this hospitality background that inspired me to change the way senior communities approached service. I recognized that people who had a passion for life had less healthcare issues and longer life spans than those who lived where a more medical first approach was the basis for life. My own passion for helping others to live an engaged life has led me to apply my unique approach to a group of residences under the banner of LifeMinded.

While being an active member of selected national aging organizations such as ICAA and ASHA, I’ve found passion in my own life by engaging in all areas of making life for seniors more meaningful and enjoyable. I have been active in building a number of communities from the ground up as a manager, director of operations and chief marketing officer. As I always say, “Thanks to our approach, we find people in LifeMinded communities aren’t waiting for life to end, they’re living it.”

Writing is a brain-boosting activity that forces you to engage many different parts of the mind. Whether you’re constructing a list or letting fictional prose flow, the act of writing is extremely beneficial for your cognitive function. Get into the habit of sitting down and writing on a regular basis as a fun and effective way to keep your mind sharp.

Your regular writing activity can take almost any shape, whether you build a collection of poetry, begin recording your fondest memories, or research an intriguing academic topic. However you choose to write, taking the time to dedicate yourself to this daily will prove beneficial to your brain function.

Keeping Your Mind Active

Daily writing helps your brain stay active and engaged. This isn’t a passive activity like swimming or walking where you can let the mind wander aimlessly. When you’re writing, the brain is occupied with the process of shaping thoughts, choosing words, and constructing sentences.

Challenging the brain to work through this type of mental exercise is similar to putting your physical muscles through their paces. Performing these activities regularly strengthens the individual brain cells as well as the connections between them.

Engaging Your Senses

If you write mindfully, it can become a very sensory activity. If you’re struggling to come up with content, go on an outing and challenge yourself to pay close attention to what you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Engaging different senses will encourage growth in different parts of the brain. For example, people who pair memories with particular smells strengthen the piriform cortex.

As you write, consider how all five senses are involved in your piece. This is an approach that you can use for both fiction and non-fiction works.

Improving Cognitive Function

Writing improves cognitive function, forcing the brain to think through matters in a logical manner. This effect is enhanced when you’re writing by hand with pen and paper rather than typing. Writing stimulates the Reticular Activating System, which filters through the many topics that your brain is processing and determines which points to bring to the forefront. It also promotes cognitive function and reinforces recall.

Recording Key Information

If you focus your daily writing practice on real-life events, this activity will help you improve your overall retention of this information. For those who are concerned about keeping their minds sharp, this can be a powerful way to reinforce key pieces of information. You can tailor your daily writing activities to suit your personal needs perfectly.

Are you struggling to recall the details of your day-to-day activities? Engage in a daily habit that involves writing down what you accomplished each day. Perhaps you can come up with a short list of prompts that you answer in each writing session. If you’re more concerned with your long-term recall, you might begin working on your memoirs. Choose a significant time in your life and begin writing about the details of what you experienced.

Not only will you have this information for your own future reference, but your children and grandchildren can hold onto it as well. This record of stories and memories could become a treasured keepsake that’s passed down through the family.

Encouraging Concentration

You must concentrate when you’re writing, regardless of the topic. If you’re interested in pursuing an academic focus, you might try working on academic writing projects. Your daily writing needn’t come in the form of journal entries if this isn’t interesting or challenging for you. You could also choose to research a topic of interest and condense the information into shareable articles or blog posts.

You can engage in writing on any topic imaginable. This activity is easily customized, so you can make it exactly what you need it to be. Writing in any form supports the key intellectual aspect of wellbeing, but it can promote other important parts of your wellbeing too. Releasing your thoughts onto paper can help with emotional and spiritual wellness. If you share your writing in a group, the activity promotes your social wellbeing as well.

Increasing Brain Plasticity

Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to form new neural pathways where there were none before. While it’s important to strengthen existing pathways, reinforcing your ability to generate new ones is powerful as well. Keep your brain sharp, active, and ready to generate new information quickly and efficiently by making a conscious effort to write every day. The routine nature of daily practice will further enhance this effect.

Create an environment that’s conducive to your writing practice to best support this habit. Find space in your apartment for a dedicated writing desk that you can settle into each afternoon, or seek out a special spot outdoors where you can settle in with a pen and notebook. LifeMinded residences like Willamette Oaks are constructed to facilitate these types of activities and promote engaged, purposeful living practices.

Improving Retention

When you take the time to write down key information, you increase your brain’s ability to retain those details. This is especially effective if you write the information down on paper rather than typing it into your phone or onto your computer. Consider keeping a small notebook for jotting down important notes quickly. You can reference this later for reminders of topics that you wanted to research further or activities you wanted to try.

Keep notepads, sticky notes, notebooks, and writing utensils handy so that you can easily engage in regular writing. When you have the right tools with you, it’s easier to keep up with the practice.

The best way to stick with a daily activity is to form a habit around it. Choose a certain time of day when you can settle in and start writing. Perhaps you’ll sit down with spiritual contemplations in the morning, or cozy up to record your memories at the end of the day. However you choose to structure the activity, taking a mindful approach to your daily writing will help you stay sharp.

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Cindy Greenfield

Cindy Greenfield is a hospitality industry professional. Her hospitality background inspired her to change the way senior communities approached service. Her passion for helping others to live an engaged life has led to applying unique approachs to a group of residences under the banner of LifeMinded.

2 thoughts on “How Writing Every Day Keeps Your Mind Sharp”

  1. Benny Wasserman

    I started writing in a Journal at the age of 50. I committed myself to one page a day. Today was my 12,650th day or just over 34 years. I’m now 85 years old and haven’t missed a day. The beauty, for me, is never having to be judged about what I write, or how I write. It’s my perspective of how I live and think about my life. It is never a chore. It also allows for creativity.

  2. I agree totally with the advantages of writing. I’ve even written a book that the author of the above post, Ms.Greenfield, might enjoy, since she’s involved with the senior housing community. My book is, “My Mother Has Alzheimer’s and My Dog Has Tapeworms: A Caregiver’s Tale.” I enjoyed writing it, it kept my mind sharp, it was cathartic, and other people who have read it enjoyed it, which is a reward in and of itself.

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