We all know you need to work your body at least 2-3 times a week to stay flexible, build muscle and keep the metabolic juices flowing. Many of us either go to the gym, walk during our lunch breaks or ride a bike to work.
What about your brain? Your mind also needs a good workout to stay limber, build neurotransmitters and keep the cerebral juices flowing.
Where’s your mental gym?
Use it or lose it.
Your body has over 800 muscles and joints which need to be flexed every day.
Your brain has 5 cognitive functions which need to be practiced, too.
These 5 habits will keep your mind stimulated and sharp; try incorporating them into your daily schedule:
- Your memory skills need training in order to avoid short-term memory loss.
- Every time you memorize something like a password code, for example, you increase the amount of neurotransmitter acetylcholine in your brain.
- Some good memory exercises: try tying your shoes with your eyes closed or feeling your way around a familiar room in the dark.
- Become distracted easily by outside noises? Find yourself repeating the same paragraph over and over? These are all signs of low attention skills.
- Do you often pass your freeway exit on the way to work? During very routine tasks we tend to go into “autopilot.”
- Shake things up a bit to stay in the zone; take an alternate route to work every other day or listen to an audio book while cooking dinner.
Learn the lingo.
- Language skills practice your ability to recognize, remember and understand words.
- Increase your vocabulary- check out an online thesaurus and make an effort to read a wide range of literature for word exposure.
Know you personal space.
- Visual-spatial skills help you focus better on your surroundings; they help you stay subconsciously aware of your environment while you concentrate on other tasks.
- Try this memory game once a day: stand in a room and look around at your surroundings.
Choose 3 items to concentrate on; let’s say a pen on your desk, a wall calendar or an interesting flower arrangement.
Exit the room.
Summon the items in your mind, trying to remember exactly where they were in relation to where you were standing before you left the room.
Now try to picture them again an hour later.
Work up to remembering more items, or increase the amount of time to several hours later.
- Practice seeing objects in your peripheral vision and remembering them later.
- Executive function skills are used for logic and reasoning.
- Go to Barnes and Nobles or Borders and check out some magazines which specialize in brain-busting riddles and logic puzzles; Games monthly magazine has a wide selection of mind-benders to keep your brain sharp.
- Hook up with a chess partner; strategy board games like Monopoly or Stratego emphasize cause and consequence.