There is no stopping women from gaining influence in business and technology – industries which used to be occupied by men only. These days, more and more women are in top level management of corporations and organizations, managing their own business and even steering their way through various technology companies.
I recently spoke before an esteemed group of women in business at the quarterly WomenBizPH Talks on Boosting Women’s Health. Organized by the Women’s Business Council Philippines, I shared with them how I recently celebrated my 50th birthday and became concerned about keeping healthy. And then I chanced upon the film Still Alice. The film is about a woman linguist and professor at Columbia University, played by Oscar winner Julianne Moore, who turned 50 and develops early onset of Alzheimer’s. I wrote about the film to celebrate women on International Women’s Month, to raise awareness on this debilitating disease & remind golden girls like me that a healthier mind is not difficult to maintain.
So, how do I keep my mind healthy… at 50?
1. Be Fit, Physically. Do yoga or run. Run a marathon even. Exercise releases endorphin, which creates feelings of happiness and euphoria, and certain chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. If you can’t run or do yoga, take a long walk, do some stretching, jump rope, or go bowling. The choice is yours. What’s important is to move your muscles!
2. Write by your hand. Handwriting stimulates the brain, is a good memory booster, and a key step in cognitive development. Thus, when you handwrite, you are actually excercising your brain. Despite the presence of iPads and other tablets, I still keep a journal to this day and write down my thoughts there. Read this blog I wrote about handwriting as an essential brain exercise.
3. Get enough sleep. Healthy sleep (6-7 hours) is essential for optimal learning and memory function. Sleep rests your mind and cleans up the brain. Think of sleep spindles through which the brain stores information into long-term memory. These sleep spindles are short bursts of brain waves at strong frequencies that occur during REM or deep sleep. And please, restful sleep means putting all your gadgets off, and away from your bedroom, not on your bed.
4. Eat healthy. Better yet, have a colorful plate, that is a healthy plate of green, orange, red, purple, yellow – of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Albert Jo, a naturopath doctor, for Slow Food Philippines, says, “Natural health and healing using food as medicine is the best way to care for thyself.”
5. Laugh! Like sleep, laughter also releases happy chemicals in your body, and according to this article, when you try to understand verbal jokes, areas of your brains important to learning and understanding are activated. This means that as your brain wrestles with the meaning of a clever punch line, it’s getting the same kind of workout it would from a brainteaser. It’s hard to laugh, especially when we are faced with financial struggles and undergoing budget rehabilitation. It’s easy to rebuild and start laughing once you figure out the ways to rebuild your finance the right way.
6. Volunteer. Doing good deeds is helpful for your well-being. Isn’t it that you are happiest when you make other people happy? Thus, I do as many volunteer work as I can from fundraisers to rehabilitation to providing livelihood. Try to find time to give back, pay it forward, and be kind. As Mother Teresa said, “give until it hurts.”
7. Play. Yes, play definitely exercises the brain. I am fond of crossword puzzles and board games. With the onset of technology, game apps are now a dime and a dozen. But, available soon in the market is a brainwave headgear paired with a mobile app, called Memorie, that will detect activity and measure brainwaves, which indicate how the brain functions. Neeuro has developed this from two years of research & development. It uses both neurotechnology and gamification, and the pioneer products address issues of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In this company, I also continue my advocacy for a healthier mind through brain training.
Incidentally, the event also featured Dr. Leni Iboleon-Dy, Chair of Philippine Hearts Association Council on Women’s Cardiovascular Health, who talked about “Mending broken hearts because broken hearts can kill!” According to her, women tend to put aside and not prioritize our own health because we multi-task and think we are not capable of getting sick, when in fact, women have a higher incidence of heart ailments. It is, therefore, necessary to be aware of signs and symptoms of possible physical ailments and to avoid these.
Indeed, taking care of the body, mind and the heart is essential for a healthy lifestyle for women… and men, too.