Brain imaging studies suggest that novel tasks activate large areas of the cortex, and increase levels of brain activity.
The same activity declined as soon as the routine became automatic. Below are some exercises to work out the inner recesses of your brain.
The question is whether or not mental exercise can preserve or build our memory capacity even in the presence of significant stressors. Until we know for sure, the best brain-helping regimen includes a healthy mental workout each day along with exercise, proper diet and stress reduction.
Vary your activities frequently and use these exercises to improve your brain power. If you’re looking for potential approaches, you just might consider spending some time do some simple things:
- Use your nondominant hand to do things, such as brush your teeth and put on your clothes.
- Shower and/or get dressed with your eyes closed.
- Change your routines, such as take a completely different route to work or a meeting.
- Toss the calculator. Next time you balance your check book, do it in your head or on paper.
- Vary the order of your normal routine, such as eat breakfast before getting dressed.
- Figure the tip for a restaurant meal in your head. Don’t even use paper to determine fifteen or twenty percent. There are some short cuts that you may use, such as making the tip equal to doubling the tax (depending on your area’s tax rate).
- Learn a new word a week. Have family or friends find a new word once a week. Go over the meaning and how the new word relates to your life. Visualize the word being filed in your mind and review it from time to time. Keep track of the words.
- Keep the grocery list hidden. Write the list, put it your pocket and go to the store. As you stroll the aisles, think about what’s for dinner, who you are entertaining, and what you need around the house. Visualize your refrigerator and pantry to see what’s in stock. Just before checking out, check your list to see if you’ve remembered it all.
- Recite the alphabet backwards until you are proficient. Try this exercise three times a day until you can do the backwards version as quickly as the regular version.
- Do crosswords and word jumbles.
- Take a class that forces you to think outside the box. Some examples include learning a foreign language which is very different from English, such as Chinese. Or, on a practical note, enhance your computer skills by either teaching yourself a new program, or taking a class. Make certain to incorporate the newly acquired information into your lifestyle.
- Play board games, charades, and word games. Any games that force you to use math and language skills are tapping into those areas of your brain that may need some stimulation.
- Reading books, newspapers or magazines
- Listening to educational audiotapes or radio programs
- Writing, reading, or memorizing poems
- Learning a new language
- Taking a class in a challenging subject
- Performing math without a calculator
- Planning a vacation by learning about a region
- Playing Scrabble or word games
- Developing your sense of humor by memorizing new jokes
- Take up a new hobby you have never done before. For example, plant a vegetable or flower garden.
A few minutes of challenging mental exercise each day just might help preserve what we cannot afford to lose. Our mind is too precious to waste. It’s not too late to nurture one of our most precious gifts. The old adage, “use it or lose it,” has taken on new meaning.