The Brain Game: 7 Ways To Keep Your Mind Healthy
The brain game – what’s it all about? How do you keep your brain young, stay sharp, quick and witty and make great decisions every day?
Harvard Medical School studies have shown that a decline in mental activity due to ageing can be significantly reduced just by living a healthy life and keeping your mind as fit and active as possible. By eating well, exercising, socialising, limiting alcohol and getting enough sleep, studies show that overall intelligence can be improved. Anyone, no matter their starting point, can increase their cognitive abilities, and by enhancing one area, can also improve unrelated skills. In other words, the more you train your brain, the more you gain!
Here are some of the best ways the experts suggest for exercising your brain:
- Keep learning: challenge your brain with new things and make a habit of being mentally active. Travel somewhere you’ve never been / do new things / try unfamiliar cuisine / try a hobby that is out of character for you. For example, if you watch too much television, sign up for dance classes, or if you are an athlete, try needlepoint! Even volunteering for a worthwhile cause is a unique experience to awaken a lazy brain, trigger dopamine release and stimulate the creation of new neurons.
- Use all of your senses in an activity: the more senses involved, the better you will retain a memory of that skill.
- Declutter your mind: practice prioritizing by making use of diaries and phone reminders for mundane things and then your brain will better be able to focus on more detailed tasks.
- Memorize something using repetition: repeating something at regularly spaced intervals, instead of merely cramming, is an excellent memory tool. Set a goal to memorise a poem or a few encouraging sayings.
- Just as you would lift weights and do cardio for your body, you can do exercises for your brain and improve your cognitive fitness by solving puzzles or playing ‘mind-bending’ games. Some examples are jigsaw puzzles, chess, crosswords, or the Stumped Mind Bender! Even painting and doing maths the old-fashioned way are fun and easy ways to enjoy a brain workout.
- Read: try listening to an audiobook or reading out loud – join a book club for an introduction to different genres and have the added benefit of socialization.
- Keep challenging yourself: the only way to continue to stimulate your brain is to stay out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself with mastering a skill and continuously moving to the next level of difficulty. Learn a language, play an instrument or master chess. Newspaper crosswords are available daily and increase in difficulty through the week.
Continually strive to expose yourself to new ideas and other ways of thinking by spending time with people different from yourself in interests, careers, socially or culturally.
Have a positive attitude to learning and doing. Get regular physical exercise, improve your diet and care for your emotions, all of which will reduce stress and develop new nerve cells and connections between brain cells. Believe in yourself and stay in the brain game!