Battling the “Midlife crisis”

(This was my 5th speech at the Toastmasters Club. No reading of notes allowed). Did you at some point in your life, feel a deep sense of regret over goals unaccomplished? Did you have this unexplained desire of getting overly expensive items such as clothing, jewelry, gadgets, etc? Were there times when you have bouts of depression then you went the extra mile to look for the relief only to end up feeling empty still? Or did you recently pay special attention to your physical appearance, dye your hair with some funny shades and wear this kind of stuff you think it’s fabulous but your friends and co-workers think it’s outrageous? Or did at some point you were in an elicit relationships and had this strange desire for younger people? If you said yes to any one or combination of these, you are not alone, you might be among those who might be undergoing a MIDLIFE CRISIS.

Understanding midlife crisis begins by knowing what it is. MIDLIFE CRISIS is commonly heard in the western countries to describe a condition of self-doubt which is experienced by individuals in their middle years, that is, the years between 30-70 with 40-60 as the most common, as a result of the feeling of the passing of youth and the imminence of old age. Some people view the middle life as a time of frustration, a brink to old age which is characterized by slow loss of vigor and reduced opportunities.
 
Some of us may dread the idea of a midlife crisis. But do we all undergo this period? Is it a developmental process we naturally go through? Fortunately, midlife crisis is not common. Actually, not all people associate midlife negatively, some people even found that midlife is a time of reflection and life reassessment which is not always associated with psychological chaos.

Researchers have conducted numerous studies on various stages such as childhood, adolescence and old age but the middle age is often overlooked. This prompted the MacArthur Foundation Research Network to lead a ten-year study on the midlife years. The project was participated in by 8,000 men and women in the United States aged 25 to 74. The research team also conducted similar studies in England, Germany and India to reveal possible cultural differences.

The study probed participants about a wide range of topics including satisfaction with their jobs, finances, personal relationships and how people deal with problems. Unexpectedly, researchers found midlife to be a time of surprising calm. The project also discovered midlife as a period when people have established stable relationships and achieved financial security. For most people, the middle years are smooth sailing.

From the same study, midlife crisis is commonly observed in western societies but not in India, Kenya and Samoa. This establishes the midlife as a stage of security. Most people are not so worried about the biology of aging.

In order to prevent psychological turmoil at this stage, those people who reported not having this crisis showed good health, psychological and spiritual well-being and social responsibility. It is a matter of healthy mindset. We have to view the middle age as the best time to be and a time to count our blessings. The following are specific suggestions from various sources on how to deal with the middle years. We can consider these for ourselves:

  1. Seek to have spiritual health and well-being. Read the scriptures and inspirational books and daily meditating on them. If we put God in everything we do, whatever crisis it is, we can handle it gracefully.
  2. Avoid the married midlife blues. This is very important for married couples or for partners who have been living together for years. Take note MEN, you are more vulnerable to “midlife blues” according to some psychologists. There will be a point in which you look back at your life and tell yourself, “If I don’t do this now, I’ll never get to do this”. Some men may try to look for exciting escapades. But according to www.midlifewives.com, ladies, don’t take your man’s actions personally by blaming yourself. The best thing for wives to do is to give him space, let him spend some time with his friends or alone, and at the same time do things for yourself, spend some time alone or with friends or consider counseling and protect yourself financially by becoming informed of your bank accounts and make sure you have equal access to them (*wink*).
  3. Watch your health. Have regular check-ups and make sure to go to the doctor as soon as possible if you feel anything strange. Avoid being stuck in a couch-potato lifestyle. Reward yourself once in a while with body pampering indulgence such as a whole body massage or a yoga session.
  4. Maintain psychological and emotional well-being. Our brains and our minds are strongly connected to our heart. The Bible says to take care of our hearts for it is the well-spring of life. The sense of being loved promotes psychological calmness. Here are the things you can do to increase the sense of love in your life – with or without a partner. Think about love per se. Love your parents, show acts of love by helping the poor, or simply show your gratitude and appreciation toward someone. All these will allow others to feel appreciated which, in turn, will be mirrored on you. If you cannot verbalize it, write it. You don’t have to send it to the person, though its effects are better felt if it’s sent (*wink*). Encourage love in others. You can also give people permission to love you as some may be intimidated or fear rejection (*wink*).
As a summary, we all pass through middle years. Some people reported having a midlife crisis, a period of self-doubt, anxiety and confusion but others are happily sailing through it. Therefore, midlife crisis is just a state of mind. Being watchful of our spiritual, mental, emotional, physical well-being will keep us from having this crisis and live the middle life with peace and renewed strength. Let’s strive to have a midlife… without crisis…
 
Source:
  1. Wikipedia
  2. Discovery Health
  3. New York Times
  4. Yahoo! Health
  5. Washingtonpost

How to Boost Our Brainpower

(This was my 4th speech at the Toastmasters Club. No reading of notes allowed). Some years ago, I was always confronted with this kind of scenario almost everyday: I was in the laboratory working on certain tasks, then I realized I need to get something from the office. The moment I opened the office door, I have no idea why I was there! I always misplaced my cellphone and usually asked a family member or an office mate to ring my phone so I would know where did I left things. To make things worse, I invited a friend over coffee and he ended up paying for everything ‘coz I forgot my wallet. I was red with embarrassment!

I began thinking that I maybe having some mental glitches or “senior moments” as my colleague referred to her forgetfulness. But I am not yet on my senior years so I panicked! This led me to desperately search for materials to help me understand my situation and prevent this from getting worse.

Initially, what I found out was shocking! According to my readings, my condition which was a case of dwindling memory and decreased concentration is generally caused by decreased blood flow to the brain and “loss of brain cells”. I was panic-stricken coz PhD study was on the horizon.

I dug out substantially for remedies and a number of literatures mentioned that the best way to keep our brain sharp is to nourish and exercise it. This will make the brain to work at its optimum making the nerve cells grow more, re-wire, boost interconnections and protect them against any form of damage. Many experts suggest we should try the following easy steps to boost our brain power and clear away the fog of forgetfulness. Here, I outlined some simple tips:

1. Brush teeth using the non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed use your opposite hand to eat, drink, comb your hair or text. Why? The use of the non-dominant hand stimulates the opposite side of the brain and activates blood flow which slows down brain aging and improves mental capacity.

2. Work out the brain just like muscles. If it’s possible, challenge yourself everyday with puzzles or play board games. I do 2 online Sudoku puzzles and 3 jigsaws almost everyday. I don’t pressure myself with the time, I just keep on until I solved each puzzle. In addition, instead of bringing a shopping list, memorize it. And lots of people are dependent on the calculator, but mental arithmetic is advised.

3. Shower with the eyes closed. Closing our eyes means giving other senses the opportunity to become active. Having strong senses also means having a strong brain.

4. Start writing an article or blogging ideas. Writing is known to strengthen the brain’s ability to communicate and is linked to improved memory. Actually, this is the reason why I started this blog almost 2 years ago.

5. Listen to classical music. I like David Garrett’s violin ensemble and 2Cello’s powerful rendition of classics. These artists also cover modern, pop and rock songs which will surely pumped up your day. Those who frequently listen to classical music were found to score way better at solving puzzles than the non-classical ones. However, those who are not into classical music, memorizing the lyrics to a song instead will greatly help your brain than just humming along with the song. Of course when you are sound-tripping, turn the volume down as much as possible. This will force you to concentrate more closely to the lyrics.

6. Always have something new. This includes learning a new language or new word everyday. I started learning French online few years ago and I was hooked and felt better. You can also drive or walk on a new route, dine somewhere different and from time to time depart from the usual routine.

7. Take a walk. The American Academy of Neurology studied women and walking. Those women who walk one and a half hours each week perform better in their cognitive tests. In another study, men who walk more than 2 kilometers a day are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. When I learned about this stuff, I started walking home from work. There’s an added bonus that you will surely like, flat abs and narrow waistline!

8. Eat heart-healthy diet. The same foods that make our heart-healthy are also brain-healthy. Food is notably important to make our thinking cap healthy. We can avoid those artery-clogging saturated fats and switch to omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts. I have read of its many benefits not just for the brain but also for good blood circulation and glowing skin and hair.

9. Load up on dark-skinned fruits and vegetables. I especially like Malunggay (Moringa oleifera) which Manny Pacquiao claimed to give him that strength of a champ. Sweet potato young leaves are also good and rich in iron for healthy blood that fuels the brain. Malunggay and sweet potato shoots are really cheap and these are common in the tropics. We can also have healthy drinks such as vitamin C-riched orange juice and green tea that are rich in antioxidants, which prevent neural damage. I am a fan of green tea which I drink almost daily. The benefits of green tea go beyond making our brain healthy, it also keep us from getting the Big C.

10. Spice up your life. The substance that makes our favorite chicken curry yellow, turmeric, can slow down the onset of memory loss. So the next time you see chicken curry in the cafeteria, don’t miss it. You’ll never know what you’ll gain.

There you have it folks. Boosting our brain power simply requires us to use our brain in different ways. The tips describe here are practically easy to follow and can make a huge difference in our life. We should exercise our brain and nourish it well. The earlier we start, the better.

Source:

  1. Yahoo! Health
  2. www.gamesforthebrain.com