Just like your physical health, your mental health plays a pivotal role in living a prosperous and happy life. If you exercise daily to keep your body fit and strong, why should your mind be excluded? Both your mind and body work symbiotically. When one is functioning properly so will the other. Exercising your mind every day helps to improve cognition, concentration, and memory to name a few. It also helps decrease the risk of losing some cognitive skills and function in your later years.
Even if you are in your later years, keeping your mind active with a few simple exercises every day will help boost your concentration and memory and keep your brain sharp for years to come. Here are a few brain exercises you can start practicing today:
Learn a New Skill
It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Whether it is learning how to knit or how to play the guitar, this will help give your mind a great work out and also makes for an interesting hobby that you can perfect in your spare time. According to research, learning a new skill not only helps to strengthen the various connections in your brain but also helps to improve your memory, especially in your later years.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the violin, or you’ve always wanted to learn how to draw… now is the perfect time to ignore all the excuses and actually do it!
We are accustomed to using our dominant hand for everything, which makes sense, imagine how illegible your handwriting would be if you didn’t. However, you can actually teach yourself to become ambidextrous…and it does wonders for your brain at the same time. Switching to your non-dominant hand will give your brain a serious workout because of the concentration it takes to control and guide your non-dominant hand to do the activities you normally do with your other hand.
Learn to write a few sentences neatly, or switch hands while eating. It’s going to be challenging at first and making a mess with your pasta is inevitable, but practice makes perfect and your brain will thank you for it.
Build Jigsaw Puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic way to unwind and give your mind a workout without much effort. Whether it is an intricate 1500 piece puzzle of the Golden Gate Bridge or an easier one that you are helping your kids with, your brain is still the winner at the end.
According to multiple experts, building puzzles significantly improves cognitive function and can prevent mental decline in your older years. Additionally, jigsaw puzzles are extremely beneficial for improving the performance of the brain’s right hemisphere and visuospatial skills. So if you have had a long day at work and just need to unwind and get your mind off things, building a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to help your brain relax and work out at the same time!
Learn The Lingo
If you have plans to travel soon or are interested in a specific culture, why not learn the lingo? Multiple studies have shown that multilingualism, or understanding and being able to speak two or more languages has a profound impact on cognition. The research shows that being fluent in more than just your native tongue helps to preserve visual-spatial skills and also improves creativity.
In addition to that, researchers also believe that by being able to switch between different languages improves your ability to switch between tasks easily and also helps to protect against mental decline in later years. No matter how old you are, learning a new language can greatly benefit your surrounding community and keep your brain in tip-top shape well into your later years.
Shake Things Up Every Day
As the saying goes, “change is as good as a holiday”. By switching up your daily routine or the way you perform your tasks is a wonderful way to keep your mind active and your grey matter stimulated. Doing the same tasks or taking the same route over and over again eventually becomes a habit and doesn’t require much thought – it just comes naturally.
By changing the way you do things or taking a different route to work every now and then, you force your brain to think more carefully and concentrate harder. If you are able to, ride your bike to work instead or learn how to use shortcuts on your keyboard when completing a project or assignment – you’d be amazed at how these small little changes make a world of difference on the mind.
Meditate In A Quiet Spot
Now more than ever, schools and businesses are encouraging their pupils and staff to focus on their mental health by practicing meditation. Not only is this exercise wonderful for calming anxiety and grounding your soul, but research has found that meditation may just be one of the most effective ways to keep your mind healthy and active.
Scientists believe that meditation can improve focus, concentration, and memory. It is also believed that meditation has a significant impact on emotions such as empathy and can also help with boosting the immune system.
The next time you feel like your attention is slipping at work, take a few minutes away from your desk and meditate in a quiet corner to get the creative juices flowing again.
Play Challenging Games
Word, math, or memory games are a great way to keep your mind active and stimulated. Games like Scrabble encourage players to broaden their vocabulary while strategic games like Chess are a great way to build concentration and memory. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer or other electronic device, it’s best to stick to the traditional board or paper format to help give your mind, neck, and eyes a break from the screen.
Even though most online games claim to increase cognitive skills and mental flexibility, staring at your phone or laptop for hours on end can actually lead to even more mental laziness not to mention the harmful light that is emitted from the screens. The great thing about board or paper games is that you can play them alone or with your friends and family too.
Here are a few more games you can play at home:
- Crossword puzzles
- Word search puzzles
- Trivial Pursuit
- Card games like bridge, gin, or poker
The Bottom Line
Taking care of your brain and keeping it active is just as important as eating healthy and going to the gym. When your brain is healthy, your mind and body work together like a well-oiled machine. There are various methods you can use to give your brain a proper workout and the tips listed above are a great starting point for you to build on. Whether it is learning a new skill or language, or taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate or switch up your routine, your brain will certainly thank you for it!