10 Ways to Sharpen Your Mind

10 Ways to Sharpen Your Mind

We often hear about the benefits of exercise and physical activity, but what about exercising our minds? Boost brainpower by adopting these 10 simple ideas:

  1. Switch things up. Practice doing things with your non-dominant hand. So if you’re right-handed, try writing or brushing your teeth with your left. It’s a simple way to challenge your mind and coordination.
  2. Get your blood pumping. Aerobic exercise helps replace protein in your body, which then supports growth of new brain cells and boosts memory. Give your brain some extra love by choosing exercises that challenge your hand-eye coordination or require a little more concentration.
  3. Engage your brain. Make word puzzles, number games, or brain teasers a new habit. This helps disengage from “autopilot” to help your brain develop new pathways. Don’t forget to challenge yourself by choosing activities that require mental effort. If you’re already great at crosswords, try your hand at Sudoku.
  4. Address your stress. The constant barrage of stress hormones can start to wreak havoc on your brain. Thankfully, you don’t need to eliminate stress to sharpen your mind; instead, engage in activities that help you respond to stress in healthy ways, like meditation and yoga.
  5. Be a problem solver. Whenever you’re faced with a challenge or problem to solve, come up with at least three different ways to solve a scenario, even if the solution is simple. Keep coming up with ideas until you think you’re tapped out, and then start considering the improbable. You might be surprised by all the innovative ideas you come up with.
  6. Take breaks. Actively engaging in problem-solving and critical thinking is great, but sometimes your mind just needs to rest and reset. If you’re stuck on something, unplug for a little while to give it a rest. Then restart by engaging from a new perspective. 
  7. Seek out a different point of view. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can make for easy conversation, but it doesn’t necessarily give you opportunities to think differently. Chat with people with varied outlooks. Strive for an understanding and appreciation of different points of view. Rigorous discourse about big ideas isn’t only good for the brain; it’s also good for the whole community.
  8. Make sleep a priority. So often, we cut back on sleep to make time for everything else, getting just enough sleep to “get by.” Do your brain a favor and make seven to nine hours of sleep a priority. Among the many benefits, you’ll improve your memory, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
  9. Enjoy a good belly laugh. Laughter engages multiple areas of your brain, whereas other responses, such as emotional responses, are limited to specific areas. Listening to jokes and stories that make us laugh is not only a great way to release stress; it also incites us to think more creatively.  
  10. Tap into your senses. With day-to-day routine, there’s a tendency to ignore sensory details. During your more “mindless” tasks, such as brushing your teeth or doing laundry, focus on your senses—any sensations you don’t typically engage with or notice during regular chores.

 


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Last updated 12/18/2019