One of the best ways to help stimulate your brain is to do something novel, such as visiting a new city and making your way through unfamiliar streets. It’s also a good way of meeting other people: you ask them directions, you meet them in restaurants, you open yourself up to conversation because you’re new here, and it’s all exciting.
Just being in an unfamiliar environment has been shown to help memory consolidation in mice. This suggests the novelty of an experience like traveling might enhance memory.
If you’re now thinking to yourself, Yeah, well, great, that’s nice for others, but I can’t afford to go on a vacation right now, think again.
You can take a vacation...in your own city or hometown. If you live in a big city, you must see tourists flocking to all the tourist sites, but do you ever do the same? Many denizens of New York have never even visited Ellis Island. There are San Franciscans who have never walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. How many Edokko have never visited Ueno Park?
Scientific studies haven’t fully explored the effects of vacationing on dementia risk, but the things you do while vacationing like walking, taking the stairs, and visiting museums are all leisure activities that are believed to be protective factors against cognitive decline.
Your job this week is to become a tourist in your own town. Find at least one nearby new place to visit or new experience to explore––a cooking class, a neighborhood you’ve yet to visit, a museum, a tour of an old Civil War battleground, a life drawing class, a boat trip down a nearby river––that will get you out of life’s daily grind and into its novelty and discovery.
Who knows? You may end up finding something new near you every weekend. (You’re welcome!)