We all know that if you want to be in good physical shape, you have to keep your body active and exercise regularly. The more varied the exercises you include in your routine, the better. You can do cardio, weightlifting, aerobics, yoga – the more the merrier. But what about mental fitness? We’re all so concerned with taking care of our bodies that we tend to forget about this little but powerful engine that controls everything and keeps us going. Well, the same rule applies to your brain. Your mind is your biggest asset and must be trained as well if you want it to work at its full capacity.
Of course, you’re not going to run up a hill to improve mental performance – although that can also help. But there are specific exercises that can give your brain a good workout and keep it sharp. Research has shown that certain activities can strengthen your mind and even boost intelligence. So if you want to care for your brain’s health, you might want to give these tips a try.
The benefits of brain exercise
Stimulating your brain will help you in various ways, but you must have realistic expectations. A few exercises won’t transform you into a genius overnight. It will take commitment, patience, and effort to achieve significant results. But in time and with proper training you’ll be able to see improvement in different areas. Some of the most notable advantages of brain training include:
- Greater ability to focus and concentrate
- Increased motivation and productivity
- Improved memory
- Better problem-solving abilities
- Increased creativity and flexibility
- Faster reaction time
- Lower stress levels
- Better mood
- Increased self-confidence
Never stop learning
Your school years might be long gone, but that doesn’t mean you’re done with learning. In fact, your whole life is a continuous learning process and you must strive to gain as much knowledge as you can. So you should try to stimulate your brain by learning something new, even if that something doesn’t relate in any way to your occupation or current hobbies.
Learning a new skill is not the easiest thing out there, but that’s exactly the point – to challenge your brain and stretch your mind. It will require you to leave your comfort zone and put in a little more effort than you’re used to, but the payoff is definitely worth it. You can learn a new language, test your artistic skills by learning to play a musical instrument, or take up a new hobby. If you’re passionate about chemistry for example, and you want to expand your knowledge in this area, online classes such as the ones offered by Chemistry Guru are a great starting point.
Be an explorer
Just like learning new things can help stimulate your brain, so does trying new things. We all have a routine that makes us feel safe and comfortable and that’s perfectly normal. We’re creatures of habit and that’s part of human nature. But sticking to a certain pattern in your day to day life is fine until it’s not. We must also strive to evolve and improve ourselves and that means leaving the beaten track behind and exploring new territories.
When you try something new, your brain releases dopamine which supports the production of new neurons, meaning you’ll be better motivated and a bit sharper. Every now and then you can get out there and test your limits to make your brain feel alive. As a modern-day explorer here’s what you can do: pack your bags and start traveling, take your friends and go to a dance class together, try new food, conquer your fears, make new friends, etc. Besides being good for your brain, it’s good for your soul as well.
Studies show that people who are socially active have a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. That’s a good enough reason to forget about your introverted tendencies and connect with the people around you. Besides, you don’t have to be the soul of the party, all you have to do is be a little more open and try to stay socially engaged.
When you socialize, you stimulate various areas in your brain by exposing yourself to new ideas and opening up the door to new perspectives. But if you really want to make the most of your social interactions, you must be in the right company. You won’t gain much by spending time with your lifelong friends or like-minded fellows, so try to surround yourself with individuals who are different from you and who can enrich your life.
Meditation is much more than trying to find your Zen. It’s been around for thousands of years, but only recently people have become more aware of its true power and how it can help them improve their lives. Psychologists talk about its many benefits, companies encourage their employees to join meditation programs and studies demonstrate its effectiveness, contradicting those who label it as just another modern trend.
So why should you join the movement and take up meditation? Long story short, meditation can reduce stress levels, improve memory and mood, increase focus and attention, and increase learning abilities. Basically meditation is like a full workout for your brain and that makes it one of the most efficient exercises for mental fitness.
Technology is all around us and we have become increasingly dependent on it. People can no longer imagine life without smartphones or other tech devices. While technology is not bad in the least, the problem lies in the way we use it. Since our gadgets can do a lot of things for us, we tend to use our brains less and our minds become lazier.
So instead of relying on your phone for every single little task, try to put your mind to work and get things done by yourself. You can try to memorize phone numbers, do math without the help of the calculator, find your way around town without GPS or give Google a break and find alternative sources of information (remember the library?). That will certainly wake your brain up from its dormant state.