We all know the power of a healthy body and the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle. But we don’t hear nearly as much about the importance of keeping our mind alert and the need to exercise our brain. Keeping a sharp mind helps ward off debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia as we age, but it also provides us with a much more fulfilling and enriching experience in the present.
Here are 7 ways to give your brain a workout.
1. Stay curious.
Be engaged with the world around you. Ask questions. Look for answers. If you see an interesting bug, find out what it is. If you hear a familiar saying, like “Bottom’s up!” discover the origin of the phrase. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know”, make a note to research the answer later and delve into the information. The more curious you are, the more you open yourself up to new possibilities and new experiences. This allows for new connections to be made in your brain and strengthens the neural connections already present. One of my favorite things to use is Google! From my laptop to my phone, a few typed words into Google and a press of Go and Ta Da! There it is, let the research begin.
2. Switch hands.
Try to eat with the opposite hand. Kick a ball with your opposite foot. Text using a different finger. These types of activities that engage different parts of the brain (called neurobics) really help stimulate the brain and keep it alert.
3. Play more.
It’s not just kids who learn best when they’re having fun. Adults can stimulate their brain and encourage new neural pathways through crosswords, card games, puzzles, board games, mental challenges and yes, even video games. With the slew of new interactive games, you can even get your body involved in the process as well, which increases both your mental and physical health.
4. Try new things.
Take a class on a subject you’ve been interested in. Volunteer at a shelter. Pick a new hobby and see if you enjoy it. Anything that you can do to bring novel ideas and activities into your life helps keep the brain active and engaged.
5. Go old school.
Ditch the calculator and word program for a while. Do things the old fashioned way. Simple arithmetic and writing things by hand can help stimulate parts of the brain that are underused and fire up old neural connections.
There is so much information at our fingertips! Pick a few topics that interest you (astronomy, technology, science, history, psychology) and stay up to date on some of the latest advancements and breakthroughs in the field. There are also great tools you can use these days to make reading so much easier. My favorite is Amazon's Kindle for reading and Audible.com for audiobooks. My favorite is audiobooks.
7. Always be growing.
One of the best ways to keep your brain sharp is to always be hungry for more: more knowledge, more understanding, more depth. As Plato once said, “Knowledge is the food of the soul”. There is no progress without growth, so if you want to advance your life to the next level, then you have to be sure that you are continually growing.
Fire up your neurons today and give your brain a workout!
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