Your brain may not be a muscle, but it’s still a good idea to work it out on a regular basis. For years, neurologists have been telling us that constant exercise of our “grey matter” is a crucial part of staying active and keeping our brains young and fit.
We won’t use overly complicated medical terms to explain the concept (if you’re interested, you can check that out here), but here’s how it works: the brain is malleable and able to adapt to new situations and new ways of thinking, creating new connections among synapses and neural cells. So how can one help the process along? By offering the brain new input and stimulation to keep it strong and well trained.
And if you’re thinking that it’s only important for older generations to exercise their brains, think again; we should all be training our brains every day, no matter what age we are! Here are a few simple ways you can keep your brain in shape.
Take me home country road…
Whether driving to work or walking to the supermarket, we typically choose the same routes to get from point A to point B. But while choosing the familiar path is certainly easier, it doesn’t exactly stimulate your brain; after some time, your brain goes on autopilot, and stops paying attention to all the goings on along the way. So why not change up the route, try new itineraries and look around? In the end, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, and you won’t just challenge your brain — you’ll also discover new things (shops, cafes, restaurants) you never would have noticed had you stuck to your old routines.
Learn how to read, write, think, create
Yes, we know that you can read and write. But when was the last time you actually wrote a letter by hand? And what’s the title of the last book you read? And what about that novel you were writing? Did you ever visit that museum exhibition you wanted to see?
If you’re feeling a little bit embarrassed right about now, it might be a sign that you’re not giving your hungry brain enough input. We’re not suggesting that you have to write a book tomorrow, but why not write a letter to a friend who you lives far away? Or pick up a new hobby? Or take a class in something new?
And in case you’re already preparing the “I’m too busy” excuse, consider this: a healthy brain is a priority. Plus, there are tons of online classes that you can attend whenever and wherever you want.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Dull… but also lazy and demotivated. If you’re looking for an easy and entertaining way to make your synapses go crazy (okay, maybe not like Jack Torrance in The Shining), play crosswords, sudoku, Monopoly, Risk, Clue, poker… you name it! Everything that challenges your mind and forces you to think differently is perfect for this purpose. And, most importantly, have fun!
Paris je t’aime
If you really want to train your brain with something new and engaging, then learn a language. Your grey matter will be “bombarded” with loads of new information and will start creating new neural paths to connect it to what you already know. In no time at all, this new stimulus will spill over, and you’ll probably want to start practicing and talking. With the confidence boost that speaking the language will bring, don’t be surprised if you become inspired to travel more and make friends in other countries. It will be a never-ending virtuous circle!
Still have doubts about learning a language? Then take some advice from Gianni, the Italian centenarian who’s learning English with Babbel. If anyone can inspire you to learn a new language, it’s him!