Everyone knows that it's important to exercise your body and we hear about studies that prove this all the time. But what about your mind?
The quick answer is YES! The brain needs stimulation and training to reach its optimal state too, which is important for the long-term health of your brain and your cognitive functions. But how do we stimulate and train the brain in a way that we know is valuable? Well, here are five brain exercises to keep your mind healthy and strong.
1. Keep A Daily Journal
We live in a world dominated by computers. Most people use computers for everything, from taking notes in class to finishing projects at work. This article you are reading right now, for example, wasn't written by hand; it's so much easier to type!
However, we still need to take time to write things out by hand every day. Taking notes by hand improves the ability to recall information longer than when we type things out. Writing things out also activates different areas of the brain, which in turn builds new neural pathways.
Spend 15 minutes a day writing in a journal. Your entries don't need to be deep considerations of the state of the world (although if you want them to be, go for it). You can keep your entries simple: what did you do today? what did you realize or learn today? What do you need to do tomorrow? What moments did you really appreciate today?
This daily activity will improve your cognitive capacity and could even make you happier.
2. Exercise More
We know it may be frustrating to see 'exercise' in every article that talks about brain exercises or healthy living, but there is a very good reason that it always shows up in these types of articles: exercise works.
The best part is that you don't even have to get a gym membership. Anything that gets you moving works. Our bodies are designed to move and movement always makes things better. Take a walk or a jog outside. Do some pushups, situps, and crunches at home while watching Youtube. Bonus points for burpees!
Movement helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn helps promote relaxation. And as part of a healthy lifestyle it should also help to reduce anxiety. Stress also negatively impacts cognitive capacity and decision making, so the next time you need something to do, make it something that involves at least a bit of movement. Or take an adventure by going on a hike and giving your brain the stimulation it needs!
3. Study a Foreign Language
Should you learn French? Oui.
Anytime you learn something new and complex, you improve your cognitive health. Learning a language also requires you to both listen and speak, activating different parts of the brain. Studies have also shown that a larger and richer vocabulary helps fight cognitive decline.
But, you don't need a deep mastery of the language for these benefits. Even if you spend a few minutes every day you'll improve your brain health at the same time as you open up your travel options. With all of the free mobile apps and programs online, you don't even need to spend any money!
4. Draw From Memory
Have you ever arrived at work and thought "how did I get here"? Because you take the same routes to work and home so often, your brain goes on auto-pilot and relaxes as you make these drives. This brain mode switches on to conserve energy so that it can focus on other things, including potential dangers, while you go through the motions of getting to your destination.
This process is natural, and generally a good thing, but it also doesn't give your brain the workout it needs. Your cognitive functions need stimulation!
One fun way to give your brain a workout is to draw a map from memory. Chart out the course you take every day to get to and from work. If you live in a small town, why not map the entire town out? You may not get it perfect the first time, but the more you do it, the closer you'll get.
Drawing maps in particular helps you work on your memory in the same way flash cards do. Your brain builds neural pathways every time you learn something new, and reinforces them each time you do the exercise again. Bad at directions? This can change the game for you!
This exercise is both complex and challenging enough to keep your brain working. Instead of shutting down when you're going on familiar drives, your brain will work to remember the route so that you can draw a map of it from memory.
Your brain takes up 2% of your body weight but uses 20% of your body's resources. It's a heavy-hitter and needs to be as efficient as possible. That's why traditional Neurofeedback systems were designed and attempt to bring your brain into an optimal state.
There's a problem with that, though. Every brain is a unique collection of pathways and frequencies. We can put brains into a statistical box, but that doesn't mean that there's an 'ideal' brain.
Instead, you need a system that looks at your brain and provides it with real-time feedback so it can determine how it wants to be. NeurOptimal does that for you while you relax in a zero-gravity chair.
Our system provides your brain feedback so that it can use its neuroplasticity to adapt and make itself more efficient. Your brain has two states: "rest and digest" (parasympathetic) and "fight or flight" (sympathetic). Our NeurOptimal systems read the energy coming from your brain and give immediate feedback about when it is entering each state. The technology produces a micro-second pause when this shift occurs, bringing the brain back to the present moment again and again during the session. This process allows the brain to recalibrate and reorganize itself in a more efficient way, conditioning itself to handle stress more effectively.
Contact Us Today To Learn More About Brain Exercises
Are you interested in brain exercises that can improve your cognitive capacity? Are you looking for methods that help to manage stress and maintain mental wellness?
Here at Headway Health, we focus on helping you achieve your optimal health and mental clarity. Get in touch with us today and we'll help guide you towards your best, optimal self.