I am addicted to Daily Celebrity Crossword, Word Cookies, and What Diff? These are all games I play on my phone. It started out a few years ago when I was in Florida visiting my 80-year old mom. I was trying to make sure her brain stays alert and active so I downloaded a few games for her. But the funny thing is, since then, I have been playing these games several times a week. I justify my time by telling myself it is good for my brain. So when I came across an article in Business Insider about brain exercises to keep your brain healthy, I thought maybe it would list some more games to download. But then I realized the exercises weren’t “games”, but every day easy exercises you can do to keep your brain active and alert.
Here are some of the ideas they suggest:
1. Brush your teeth with your non-dominate hand. I’ve experienced this first hand when I broke my wrist. It isn’t easy, but it’s supposedly good for your brain. It forces you to use the opposite side of your brain and can result in substantial growth in the parts of the cortex that control and process tactile information from the hand. Who knew my brain would benefit from breaking my wrist?
2. Switch around your morning activities. I feel like if I did this one I might run late, because I have a strict morning routine. But according to the article, brain imaging studies show that even small, everyday tasks exercise large areas of the cortex, but that this activity declines as tasks become routine. This reminds me of another book I read a while back where Martha Stewart stated that she takes a different route to work every day. I guess she was on to something.
3. Turn familiar objects upside down. When you look at an object right side up your left “verbal” brain can quickly label it and divert your attention elsewhere. But when you see it upside down, the right brain takes over and had to interpret the shape, color, etc. So if you see something in my office upside down, it’s probably that way on purpose.
4. Make more social connections during your day. How many times have you worked so hard all day only to realize you didn’t talk to anyone in the office all day long? It’s important to have that “people” connection throughout your day. Scientific research has repeatedly proved that social deprivation has severe negative effects on overall cognitive abilities. With all the technology nowadays, one can easily make it through the day without having a personal connection. They suggest forcing those connections with things such as paying the clerk for your gas instead of paying at the machine. Or keep it simple, and just take a mental break now and then and say hi to a coworker.
5. Switch seats at the table. This might be my favorite one. I often do this in staff meetings and I love seeing people’s reactions as they come in and I’m not in my “normal” seat. It drives the staff crazy. I never realized that this could be benefiting my brain! They say it’s good for your brain to do this at any table you sit at regularly, whether be at a conference room table or the dinner table. It changes your view of the room, how you reach for things, and who you relate to.
6. Open the car window. Well, in Michigan we can do this one for a few months out of the year if we are lucky. I wouldn’t recommend doing this one until at least May. The article states that doing this adds new smells and sounds to your route. It provides the circuits in your brain with more raw material. It also helps to construct better mental maps of where you have been.
7. Read differently. They suggest reading aloud from to time in order to use different brain circuits. While it slows your reading down, it can benefit the brain. I do this when preparing for a presentation or speech of any kind. The words resonate differently in my brain when I read them aloud. Try it.
I’m not sure if all of these exercises really work, but I am willing to give some of them a try. Have you ever tried any of them or do you do other things to keep your brain active? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.