Ever since a young age, I have always felt the need to be doing things that challenge my brain. Now that I’ve grown up I’ve learned that this is a very good thing! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, keeping an active brain is one of the steps to keeping away Alzheimer’s and other mental diseases. You probably know a lot of people who do crossword puzzles everyday because of this, but what if you don’t like crossword puzzles? Below are things I have tried over the years to keep my brain active that can help you grow old with a healthy brain!
The most fun way to stay active is by playing games! Any game will do, but the ones that are really hard for you are actually the best ones to play. You may think that playing Scooby Doo on my Playstation 2 for hours isn’t helping me at all, but do you know how many controls I had to learn in order to stay alive in that game? Video Games may look like they are wasting your brain away, but they are actually very challenging. In most video games, as you advance levels the challenges get harder so your brain has to continue working even more. Once a Video Game gets too easy for you, it’s no longer challenging your brain as much so you should go out and buy another one.
Board games can challenge your brain because they are different every time you play! Depending on who you play with, you have to challenge your brain to figure out a different strategy to win. Have you ever gotten mentally tired by playing a bored game? That’s great! That means your brain was really working to it’s full potential. Trivia games are especially challenging as you have to use your memory as well as strategy in order to win.
If you don’t have anyone around, and you also don’t feel like purchasing Video Games, the best thing is to go to a website like www.shockwave.com and play FREE online games! What I love about these games is that they are short and it’s easy to learn the concept. It takes me five minutes to learn how to play and each game gradually gets harder as you play. When a game becomes too easy for me, there are hundreds of other free games I can try. If you really like any of the games, most are available for purchase so you can play them on your computer anytime. I love finding new games on that website and looking for a new challenge!
Become a ____ Buff!
After every movie we watch, my husband goes to www.imdb.com, our favorite movie website, and looks up facts. He knows who was in what before, the trivia behind making the film, where all the goofs were, everything! He then loves to share these facts with anyone who wants to know. By becoming a movie buff, he is challenging his brain daily to remember new facts. If you are into movies, this would work great for you. If you are not into movies, pick anything you are really into and become a buff! If you are into history, be a history buff and learn everything you can about your favorite events in history. If you are into cats, learn everything you can about them too. If anyone tells you that you are too obsessed with cats, just tell them you are challenging your brain by learning all you can.
Switch it up!
One day, I decided to start eating with my left hand. This was partially because I was getting carpal tunnel from all the computer work I do and I wanted to give my right hand a break. In addition, I thought it would be fun to learn to do things left-handed and maybe be semi-ambidextrous. Now-a-days, it’s only natural that I eat with my left hand and many people are shocked to see this because they know I’m right-handed.
Then one day on my local news there was a story about Alzheimer’s that actually stated that switching hands is beneficial to your brain. By doing something as simple as trying to brush your teeth with the opposite hand, your brain needs to learn a whole new way of doing things. Ever since this news story, I find it to be a fun challenge to try different things left-handed.
Change your routine!
Having a routine may seem great, but in the long run your brain is getting weaker and weaker every day you follow the same old routine. If you wake up every morning and go to the bathroom, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed, let the dog out and then run out the door, your brain doesn’t even have to think anymore because it’s always the same! So tomorrow, wake up and get dressed before going to the bathroom. Let the dog out while you are brushing your teeth. Just change it up! Not only will your brain be working harder as it tries to figure out what you are doing, you may also find yourself more awake and aware because you are paying more attention to what you are doing.
A lot of people fall into the routine where they come home after a long day and plop on the couch with a soda. I don’t want to be one of those people so I try everyday to come home and be productive. I want to do something in those first 20 minutes to keep my mind awake! Then I find I have more energy for the rest of the night because I didn’t just let my brain go to sleep and plop in front of the TV.
Creativity really challenges your brain if you try to think outside the box. To start with, redecorate a room in your house. So many times my brain gets a little bored and I start wanting to rearrange the furniture or reorganize the DVDs. This may seem pointless to the outsider, but for you it is really helping you challenge your brain. Avoid asking for help when doing creative things and instead try your hardest to come up with the solution on your own. I enjoyed putting up shelves and drapes in my house without any help because I felt like I had to figure it out and my brain was really working hard!
Of course, there are many ways to use creativity to keep your brain active. Writing is a great one! As I write this advice piece, my brain is working to formulate sentences and the structure of it all. You can write reviews, advice, poetry or just write stories that you make up. Whatever entertains you and keeps your brain going should work fine. Other creative activities include painting, gardening, crafts, learning an instrument, and even cooking.
What NOT to do!
These many tips should help you grow old with a stronger brain, but there are still some things to avoid.
-Don’t put off your brain’s health! Don’t tell yourself that you are too tired today and you will start challenging your brain tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late.
-Don’t give up on something because it is too hard. It is too hard because your brain needs to learn it! I’ve read reviews of Video Games where people said they gave up because the controls were too hard for them. They just weren’t trying hard enough.
-Don’t let others make all of your decisions. If you have someone else doing all of your finances, in charge of your house, and planning your week out for you, you really become a robot who just follows the leader. You need to think for yourself to keep your brain busy.
-Don’t let others do things for you, learn to do it yourself. If it is a simple task and you just need to be taught, have them teach you how to do it rather than just telling them to do it for you.
-Don’t ever stop playing games! You are never too old for a Video Game no matter what anyone says.
Now it’s time for you to take all of these tips to heart and get to work on that brain of yours before it’s too late!! Reading this article alone probably challenged your brain for at least a few minutes. Now go out and challenge your brain some more!!