Flexing Those Muscles Is All Fine And Good, But Try Exercising Your Brain
Shaylynn Totolo 5/9/2016
We all know that exercising makes you stronger, right? But what can we possibly do, outside of heading back to school, to actually make us smarter? The answer might be easier than you think.
There are a few easy and free actives you can even do from home to keep that big 'ol brain of yours pumping. Want to learn more? Let's get started!
Yep, read anything and everything. Although the current New York Times is likely a plethora of information, you can also crack open that "Goodnight Moon" for the hundredth time because reading reduces stress. Reducing stress, in turn, increases problem solving skills, helps the brain understand a processes, piece together information, detect patterns, and interpret other peoples feelings. Long story short, open a book. Or, keep reading this article...
Although a state of meditation is not easy to achieve, its completely possible with practice. Meditating allows the brain to focus on a certain state of mind. In fact, a study done in 1992 with the Dalai Lama showed he was able to generate specific brain waves on command. What does that mean for you? It suggests we can control our own brain waves, feeling what we want to feel, when we want to feel it. Sounds great right? Imagine being able to feel more passionate right before an important date? Or more confident before a job interview?
Play An Instrument.
Playing an instrument is one of the most powerful things you can do to exercise your brain. It helps with language, math, fine motor skills, creativity, memory, problem solving and so much more. Musical instruments do this by strengthening a little thing call the corpus callosum which links the hemispheres of the brain. By doing this it literally creates new connects.
Practice Cumulative Learning.
Meaning, learn the same thing over and over again. No cramming for this exam. Take notes at work and go over them repeatedly. Keep a journal and jot down quotes or interesting tidbits you pick up along the way. Go over it every night before bed to keep your brain fresh.
Exercise regularly, not just here and there. That can include a nightly walk or a daily routine. Rumor has it, that when you exercise on the regular your cells are flooded with BDNF, which is a portion that helps memory, concentration and overall focus.
On the flip side, scientists have speculated that sitting for extended periods of time actually obstructs your brain from functioning at the peak of its ability.
Learn A Foreign Language.
Boom, a perfect way to practice your cumulative learning skills! Like solving puzzles, learning a new language improves memory as well as improving problem solving skills.
Word searches, sudoku, crosswords, backgammon, solitaire... They all increase the way our brain organizes ideas and information. People who routinely do puzzles also have a lower rate of depression and anxiety.
Where To Start
So, the moral of the story is that you should never stop learning. Everyday you can do these little things, like simply reading the paper, to increase your brain capacity. It's truly incredible what the mind can accomplish, and only with a little help.