Reading and Keeping a Diary: “Magical” Strategies for Healthy Cognitive Aging

April 11, 2018
Both reading and writing are two activities that keep your brain active. Learn about the many great benefits of these activities in this article!

Reading and keeping a diary are more than just hobbies. They also help you express yourself, find a release, and alleviate stress.

Of course, everyone knows about the benefits of reading and keeping a diary or journal. After all, it’s a practice that you might even try to pass on to your children.

However, it’s possible that you haven’t stopped to think about something very important. Reading and writing can help you have a more agile brain with greater cognitive skills.

That’s right: these activities help you delay dementia that’s associated with aging.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll avoid any future neuro-degenerative diseases. However, it will take longer to appear and the impacts won’t be as severe.

In turn, the pleasure of keeping a daily diary is so much greater than your private channel of expression. It’s a world of possibility that your cognitive system will notice.

If you still don’t combine these two healthy exercises, it’s time to start. Today, we’ll explain why.

Reading and keeping a journal is good for your brain

We all dream of living for many years. However, reaching 80 or 90 years old isn’t of much use if you don’t have good quality of life. Chronic pain and cardiovascular disease are secondary to the saddest thing that can happen to you: the loss of your memory.

Naturally, ensuring that you are satisfied and healthy as time passes often depends on your current lifestyle.

Activities like reading, writing, and even playing cards or other games with friends can help you maintain a more agile brain.

This conclusion was reached by a study conducted in 2012 at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The principle investigator, Dr. Konstantinos Arfanakis, an expert in dementia and other memory problems, endorses the relationship between reading and writing when it comes to preserving a healthier brain.

Let’s examine the data below.

The white substance of the brain

The white substance is made up of tissue that forms part of the central nervous system. It occupies the space between your brain and the spinal cord and is formed through a delicate network of axons.

Those axons are the extensions of neurons and have a very specific purpose: ensuring optimal circulation of information through your nervous system.

However, diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis can make this difficult.

The very passage of time can also break that perfect communication that you have when you’re only 20 or 30 years old.

A practice as enriching as reading and writing, however, generates a lot of activity in this part of the brain. It strengthens it.

This produces what neurologists call “anisotrophy.” At the level of the brain, this enhances connectivity, elasticity, and improved information transfer.

These types of activities not only generate new neural connections. In addition to that, we have to consider the emotional component.

The mental relaxation that’s produced when you read or write out your worries in a journal also generates some metabolic shifts in your brain: the hippocampus makes new connections and increases endorphins.

Keeping a personal journal helps care for your health and your emotions

According to various studies on mental health, such as the one published in the journal BJPsych, dedicating a few minutes every day to writing down your thoughts and emotions also helps you maintain a younger brain.

In this case, we’re talking about expressive writing. It’s a private channel where you organize ideas, turn over new emotions, fears, projects, or goals. This is a therapeutic technique that many people carry out for years.

If you turn this exercise into something you do every day throughout your life, your cognitive processes will take notice. It will strengthen your capacity for analysis, emotional management, and stress management.

All of these things are positive dimensions for safeguarding your brain from the passage of time. Reading and writing complement each other.

If you think about it, every person who enjoys reading also likes writing from time to time. They also enjoy story telling and expressing themselves.

Don’t’ forget that if you don’t use your brain, it atrophies. A brain that only stores worries and obsessive thoughts becomes slow. You lose your ability to react.

Also read The 3 leading causes of depression

Fortunately, it’s all up to you to avoid this: read a book or pick up a notebook. Your brain will thank you!