The mind does many wonderful things for us throughout the day. Most of these tasks go completely unnoticed by us. We aren’t telling ourselves to breathe or pump blood or remember the route to work or the names of our friends and family. It just happens. The mind is a magical thing, but throughout our lives, we can make things more difficult for our brains with poor diet, exercise, and a lack of practicing difficult mental activities. Our brain needs care and attention, just like the rest of our bodies.
Of course, a healthy diet, daily exercise, and time in nature can help keep our minds healthy, several activities and brain exercises can also help keep us mentally sharp. The following will explore some of the activities or processes you can undertake to improve your focus, memory, creativity, and mental processing power. Remember not to beat yourself up if the tasks feel hard. Your brain is getting the benefits whether or not you’re succeeding at the activities.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a 10,000 piece master puzzle, struggling against monochromatic shapes and sizes, or a 100 piece children’s puzzle. Studies have shown that working on jigsaw puzzles heightens multiple different cognitive abilities and can protect your mind from visuospatial cognitive aging. This works because when you’re looking at the different pieces laid out on the floor or table, your mind is trying to guess where they fit, tilting them and turning them internally.
You’ve probably heard about the many benefits of meditation—we know it can help keep you calm and stress-free. But not enough is said about the way meditation improves your memory and increases your mind’s ability to process information. The other wonderful aspect of meditation is that you don’t need to devote much time to it. Even five minutes a day will produce benefits.
As a side note, if you are skeptical of meditation due to religious reasons, know that there are dozens of different types of meditation. There will be a form that aligns with your spiritual calling. You can even meditate on a line from the religious text of your choice or the feeling of prayer.
Word Games And Vocabulary-Based Activities
Having an improved vocabulary doesn’t just make you sound intelligent in conversations, it improves mental function. This is because many different parts of your brain are involved in vocabulary-based tasks. Many of these areas of the mind are necessary for visual and auditory processing.
There are countless social and private games you can play online or at home that keep you working with words. If this type of activity is challenging for you at first, you can try using an unscramble tool. When you give the tool a series of letters, the tool will produce a list of words that use those letters. Any time you encounter a word you don’t know, be sure to look up the definition of the word and try to use it at least five times the following day. This will imprint the word into your memory, giving you those wonderful brain benefits we talked about above.
Listen To Music Or Learn To Play An Instrument
It turns out that music has a ton of wonderful benefits for your brain. Turning up some feel-good music can improve your ability to devise innovative solutions to problems, compared to working in silence. This means that creativity and the benefit is magnified if you are playing the music yourself. Contrary to popular belief, it is never too late to learn how to play music, and now that we have the internet you can find music lessons online for free.
Learn To Speak A New Language
Yes, this one might sound tough, but the mental benefits are so overwhelming that you shouldn’t let your memories of grade four Spanish frighten you away. Knowing how to speak more than one language can delay the onset of age-related mental decline. It improves your memory, visual-spatial skills, and increases your creativity. As with musical instruments, there was a long emphasized myth that you lose the ability to learn a new language later in life. Studies are now finding that this is completely false. You can learn a new language at any point in your life.
The above activities are just a few of the mental exercises you can undertake to help keep your mind sharp. With regular use, you’ll experience improved memory, better focus, stronger mental processing, and greater creativity. This being said, if you only take away one point, it should be that it is never too late to learn something new or improve your mental state.