7 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Posted on March 27, 2023 in Uncategorized

Your brain may not be a muscle – but to get the most out of it, you need to work it like a muscle. Cognitive skills need to be flexed if you want them to stay healthy or improve, and “thinking really hard” doesn’t cut it. Don’t worry – you don’t need to take a MENSA-level challenge to see noticeable brain-gains. In fact, improving your mental health, building your cognitive ability, and exercising your brain can be relatively easy, a ton of fun, and can lead you down exciting new paths in life. 

Let’s build up that brain! Here are 7 ways to exercise your mind. 

       1. Get Active

Mental health starts with physical health. Along with the countless benefits of physical activity, exercise also stimulates the brain in incredible ways and has a powerful effect on brain health – a few positive lifestyle changes are as impactful as being physically active. Effects on mood, focus, decision-making ability, and mental acuity can be felt as soon as immediately after any moderate-to-vigorous exercise. Long-term effects allow your brain to stay strong as it ages, with physical activity reducing brain shrinkage and atrophy.   

The CDC recommends working your way up to achieve 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity – and things like walking the dog, yard work, or going out dancing all count. 150 minutes might seem like a lot in a busy week, but this goal is easily reached by completing just 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, 5 days a week.

Need help with motivation? Learn how to intrinsically motivate yourself.   

       2. Draw a Map from Memory

Pick a place you think you know well enough. This could be your neighborhood, city, country, or even just a supermarket. Now, try a brain exercise for memory enhancement: without looking at the area or consulting a map, attempt to draw your own map of the space from memory. Include as many specific details and important features (roads, sidestreets, landmarks, points of interest) as you can. When you’re finished, consult the real map or place and see how you did. 

Many daily activities, like navigating around town, seem like a snap – and so we go through these activities in an autopilot-like state. Forcing yourself to recall specific details and arrange them in a visual layout activates, engages, and strengthens a variety of areas in the brain, helping with memory and thinking skills.

       3. Use Your Non-Dominant Hand

Here’s another way to keep things interesting and challenge your mind. If you were a weight lifter, would you only work out with one side of your body? Why treat your brain any differently? Neurobiologist Lawrence Katz says that using your non-dominant hand to perform activities can help keep your brain alive and powerful, protecting against memory loss and improving mental fitness. 

Try it out with some easy tasks, like jotting down notes or eating dinner. And don’t be discouraged if it proves difficult at first! With practice, your dexterity will improve – along with your brainpower. 

       4. Pick Up a New Skill

Old dogs most certainly can learn new tricks. Everyone is able to pick up new knowledge and skills, and doing so can have a huge positive impact on mental strength. Whether you want to learn an instrument, language, hobby, trade, or something else, learning and acting on newfound knowledge uses a ton of the brain’s power, and helps build stronger connections between areas of the brain. 

Worried about your ability to learn new skills? With a growth mindset, anything is possible

       5. Take On a Jigsaw Puzzle

No matter the design or how many pieces it’s made of, tackling a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to exercise your brain by activating your brain’s visual-spatial working memory. Multiple areas of the brain and many different cognitive abilities are utilized when trying to fit pieces together, trying to remember what different pieces look like, and attempting to conceptualize the way many pieces come together to form a whole. 

       6. Have Fun with a Game

Games that require logic, math, word, and visual-spatial skills are excellent brain exercises for sharpening the mind. Whether you prefer the Sunday crossword, Sudoku, trivia, board games with friends, or complex video games, there’s a high mental benefit to be found in having fun and challenging yourself. These activities call on multiple cognitive skills and help improve your brain’s spatial, processing, memory, and decision making capabilities. What’s more, every adult can afford to introduce a little more fun into their lives. 

       7. Combine Passions with Fusioneering

Fusioneering – the process of combining two or more fields or areas of interest to produce something new and valuable (like mixing art and science to create a robot that paints with human-like delicacy) – is not merely a great way to find purpose in life. The fusioneering mindset forces different areas of your mind (like language and math centers) to work together, build stronger neural pathways, and improve critical and creative functions. This process, when engaged with long enough, can unlock new ways of thinking and open doors you never knew existed. 

Ready to get started?  

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