Why Believing in Your Brain Matters: 3 Ways to Boost Cognitive Confidence
One of my favorite quotes comes from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, whether you think you can’t, you are right.”
How true is that? And if you are looking to empower others (and yourself) for better cognitive wellness and healthy living, boosting confidence in our ability to really make a difference in our brain fitness and overall well-being may just be one of the first places you should start.
When it comes to brain health, we know empowering people with the self-assurance to take better care of their brains can make the difference in their cognitive wellness. Much of what is prescribed by the science requires folks to make brain healthy choices on their own– such as regular aerobic activity, taking part in intellectually stimulating activities, being social, etc. One of the best things we can provide to those we serve is the knowledge of what to do and the confidence to do so.
And the research suggests that we can in fact do just that. Group-based brain training programs designed to give students the skills they need to engage in a better brain health lifestyle have long shown that they have a significant, long lasting impact on participant’s self-efficacy.
We are pleased to add evidence from our own TBH Toolkits to the list of research studies that have been shown to empower participants’ knowledge and confidence as they strive towards healthier brain outcomes. Results from a pilot study looking at the impact of TBH Toolkit programs were presented at the Cognitive Aging Conference in Atlanta, GA this past month. Research results highlighted that participation in TBH Toolkit courses significantly improved brain health knowledge and self-efficacy. Pilot data was collected from participants in the TBH BRAIN WORKOUT 1.0 and MEMORY 1.0 Toolkit courses at TBH Community Partner Galloway Ridge, a Life Plan Community in Pittsboro, NC. Dr. Ian McDonough of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, presented the findings at the national conference.
As active aging professionals, we understand more each day about the very critical role self-confidence plays. So, what can we do to boost self-confidence in our clients? Here are 3 things you can do to bring this science to your community:
- Boost Confidence in Their Performance. When we are sure of ourselves, we are more likely to perform well. Self-assuredness reduces the chance that we will be distracted by anxiety and makes it more likely we will learn and retain critical information that supports our performance. Encourage your clients to be more assured in their attempts, less concerned about mistakes, and to practice strategies such as deep breathing to reduce anxiety that might get in their way.
- Give Them Opportunities for Mastery. When we feel we can be successful, we are much more likely to do what it takes to achieve that success, whether it be getting into better physical shape or attaining a strategy to rev up our recall of names. The “stick-to-itiveness” it takes to reach our goals, no matter what they are, is based in no small part on that very critical idea that our efforts will be successful. Give your community members more chances to learn and master the things that we know result in better cognitive performance, such as classes in memory strategies to programs that challenge them creatively.
- Support Their Confidence to Keep Them Engaged. If we don’t think our actions result in a desired outcome, what do we bother to do them at all? Famed psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman wrote extensively about the “learned helplessness” that results from feeling that we have no control over what the outcome might be. Yet when we understand that the choices we make do matter, we can feel more empowered in making those very choices and look for ones that lead us in the desired direction. In fact, the World Health Organization has identified self-efficacy as one of the most critical determinants for successful aging across the globe. Encouraging your clients to be confident in their ability to make a difference in their brain health outcomes is an important way to keep them engaged across the body, mind and spirit activities we know result in better cognitive health.
Click HERE for a PDF of the recent pilot study. Better brain health to all!