Your brain—not to be confused with your mind—is one of the more vital organs in your body.
Its health affects the rest of your body and vice versa; and, like the rest of your body, it needs exercise and care to work optimally.
But how do you exercise your brain?
Here are ten easy activities that will pay special care to that bumpy clump in your head.
Meditation is one of the best things you can do for your mind, body, and brain. The practice—thousands of years old across many cultures—has tangible benefits for almost every part of your brain. Beside relaxation, meditation allows you to release your brain from focused activity so that it can roam to other aspects of thought that might otherwise be overlooked. All you need is a quiet place and 15 minutes a day to experience the benefits.
2. Stay Active
Cardiovascular exercise is good for every part of you—the brain no exception. Increasing blood flow and energy level, even a 15-minute walk around the block will make you feel better and your brain work better.
3. Take a Nap
Napping has been shown to improve brain function and enhance performance. You will feel refreshed and energized after a good 20-30 minutes of sleep during the day.
4. Play Word Games
Word games engage parts of your brain you may not realize: memory, creativity, cognition, and language skills. Whether alone or with a group, challenge yourself (and your friends) to stay sharp. It can have long-term effects to stave off disease.
5. Concentrate on One Thing at a Time
Contrary to what modern employers think, your brain cannot literally multitask. Your focus is either on one thing or another with the rest pushed to the periphery. Multitasking can actually reduce productivity by up to 40 percent. To be productive and get the most from your brain, do one thing at a time and give it all of your attention. Once completed to your satisfaction, you can move to the next thing. You can accomplish much more with good quality rather than doing things half-baked but satisfactory.
Learning a new language exercises almost every part of your brain. Beside impressing your friends, it can open doors to you in the form of learning about other cultures’ history and traditions. You can take a class at a community college or online or get a package at your library. It’s fascinating to see how English connects with other languages and is worth exploring for the interest factor. (At least) one new thing every day is good for your brain.
7. Be Creative at Night
Your brain can be more creative when you’re tired. Logic and social mores take a back seat as your mind wanders. Use it to your advantage and do something creative before going to bed. It’s a nice transition from the daily routine to probe the more emotional aspects of yourself; paint, write, play music—whatever you enjoy.
8. Eat Smart
Nutrition is vital to your brain’s health. If you don’t think you’re getting enough or the right combination of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet, a multivitamin supplement may help. If you do decide to take a supplement, whole-food, organic ones are best. Synthetic vitamins, like any other human-made product, don’t metabolize properly in your body.
9. Write Things Down With a Pen
Journaling was common until the advent of the personal computer. There is a big difference between typing something on a keyboard and writing with pencil and paper: the physical act of writing with your hand engages the right brain (the creative half) and allows expression of thoughts that your left brain (the analytical half) may not consider From a shopping list to your life’s story, writing therefore creates balance in your brain that is essential to brain and mental health.
10. Be Optimistic
Positive thoughts are critical to a healthy brain and body. It’s just as easy to be optimistic as pessimistic, so why not choose the path that feels better? In a very real way, your attitude affects every aspect of your life. There have been countless studies on the effect our thoughts have on our health and they all conclude that a positive, constructive mindset can only help you. Find ways to see the good in everything you experience and you’ll be rewarded.
We as a species are continually learning about our bodies and how they work; there are as many questions as answers. Feed your brain, exercise it, allow it to grow and you will derive more from your everyday life.