The brain is our most important tool. Without it, we wouldn’t even exist. So, without question, it’s vital that we take care of it to the best of our abilities. We’re offering up a bunch of ways to do your best to keep your mind sharp.
Believe it or not, even unfamiliar movements keep the mind sharp. When you do an activity that your brain doesn’t recognize or hasn’t seen in a while, it becomes lively and starts firing on all cylinders (or synapses). So, for people who don’t want to spend time doing puzzles, art, or anything cognitively challenging, this is a great alternative. Then, you’re not only training your brain but your body, too! Here’s a great article with five great exercises for brain health.
On the list of mind–sharpening activities, memory recall challenges should be near the top. These types of activities will help maintain (and even boost) your long and short-term memory—which you’ll be thankful for as you get older. When you first think of memory challenges, you might think of the card games you played as a child to encourage visual-spatial memory. You don’t have to be a child to enjoy those. Lay out a grid of shuffled cards (all with a corresponding match), glance at them for 30 seconds, then flip them all over and try to remember where each card’s match lies.
Another outstanding recall challenge is drawing a map from memory. Imagine a destination you frequent and all the landmarks that you see along the way. Then, draw that map out on paper and see how much you remember in the process of recollecting your last trip there. A particularly challenging memory exercise (that you’re probably not going to like) is attempting to do math problems in your head. Good luck with that …
Additionally, if there’s anything you want to remember, try writing it down or repeating it. Or, try one of these memorization strategies.
Complete a Puzzle
There are limitless types of puzzles that benefit different parts of your brain, including brain teaser toys, crossword puzzles, word searches, logic riddles/questions, and even number puzzles like Sudoku™. To learn about why puzzles can help keep your mind sharp, read this article.
Whatever kind of puzzles you have laying around, jigsaw or otherwise, give them a try! If you have the time to do them daily or even a couple of times a week, you’ll see improvement in your cognitive capabilities.
If you really want to help your brain stay in tip-top shape, put yourself in situations that require you to learn. Read books, articles, research papers, even the newspaper—yeah, that still exists. If you prefer watching or listening, find educational podcasts, videos, or documentaries. Do whatever it takes to encourage learning.
You may even consider learning and practicing a new skill. Want to learn a new language? Go for it. Do you think your free time would be a little more fun with some piano? Start taking piano lessons (or teach yourself for free using YouTube™ tutorials). Feel like you want a new scarf for chilly days? Take up knitting or crocheting and make one for yourself. Some of these skills will also spark your creative side, which is another great way to exercise your brain.
Take Advantage of Tools
If you can remember your cousin’s girlfriend’s mom’s birthday but you can’t remember where you set your phone down, it might be time to reprioritize where you spend your brain power. Instead of committing important dates and times to memory, use the technology you have and put them into a calendar … and it doesn’t have to be a digital one—it can be one of those cute calendars with puppies and kittens on every month. Most smartphones can send you reminders, keep your grocery lists, and even do your budgeting for you. Use the tech and tools that are available to you and save your brain power for important things like problem solving, remembering conversations, and of course, wherever you put your car keys.
Finally, because your brain is an organ, it responds well when you take care of your body. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a consistent sleep schedule will all work wonders for your brain now and in the future. A couple other factors that also contribute to brain health are listed here. However you choose to take care of it, we hope that you realize the urgency of acting now to keep your mind sharp as you age.