If you have read our previous article on getting your head into the game, you would know that our brain is extremely vital for any kind of success. It gives us the important first step (ideation), serves as our engines when it gets tough (perseverance and willpower) and even keeps us in line with our goals (focus).
Thus, to keep our minds as sharp as an obsidian knife, we compiled six exercises to strengthen your mind!
- Listen to music
This might seem contrary to what our parents told us as children, but did you know that music increases the brain’s creativity and focus skills?
According to the researchers of a 2017 study on music and creativity, listening to positive, upbeat tunes helps to generate more innovative solutions compared to being in silence. Which means, cranking up some feel-good music can help boost your creative thinking and brainpower. On the other hand, listening to classical music will help to soothe your brain and allow it to move into a meditative/focused state of mind.
If you are looking to get into a quiet state of mind this lovely afternoon, why not read our article on the Time of Day Series where we recommend music a well as a reading passage that sets you on a focused, meditative mood.
2.Brushing teeth with the non-dominant hand
Using the opposite side of your brain (as you will if you do this exercise) can result in a rapid and substantial expansion in the parts of the cortex that control and process tactile information from the hand.
While there are many other ways to try this, a simple daily exercise you can try out is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It will feel odd at first, especially when you are brushing your wisdom teeth and your gums but with habitual use, this morning brain booster will strengthen your brainpower!
- Playing a Game of Cards
Researchers who conducted a study in 2015 on mentally stimulating activities for adults say that a quick card game can lead to greater brain volume in several regions of the brain. In the same study, it was shown that a game of cards could also improve memory and thinking skills, which also mitigates the probability of having early-onset dementia.
Moreover, there are many ways to play cards, be it on your own with games like Solitaire, or with a group of friends which include games like Bridge (our personal favourite) and Crazy Eights. With just a pack of cards, you can be fully present for and socialise with your besties while improving the cognitive function of your brain!
- Look at things upside down
When you look at things right-side up, your left “verbal” brain quickly labels it and diverts your attention elsewhere. When they are upside down, however, your right brain will come into play and will start trying to interpret the shapes, colours, and relationships of a rather puzzling picture.
You can try this exercise with pictures or a calendar and trying to interpret and do your daily tasks with this subtle change. If it seems inconvenient at first, then you know that you are on the right track because your right brain takes some time to process the information.
- Tai Chi
It is no secret that this ancient Chinese martial art can benefit your health in many ways, including your mental health. Plus, it is a very valuable support system when life seems out of balance.
Taking up a regular practice of tai chi can help reduce stress, enhance sleep quality, and improve memory. A 2013 study found that long-term tai chi practice could induce structural changes in the brain, resulting in an increase in brain volume.
If you are a beginner to this internal martial art, it is advisable to start with formal classes to learn the different movements. Once you know the basics, you can practice tai chi anywhere, anytime.
- Try a new cuisine
When we do our usual body workouts, we are always told to push harder and add newer movements to our usual routine so that our muscles can continue to be polished. Similar to this idea of a constant change to keep our muscles strong, trying a new cuisine will also give your brain some much-needed stimulus.
Your olfactory senses can distinguish millions of odours by activating unique combinations of receptors in your nose. There is a direct link to the emotional centre of your brain, so new odours and tastes may evoke unexpected new associations as your brain also works to process this new information.
Incorporating these six exercises into your daily life will allow you to challenge your mind while sharpening your cognitive skills. As many of these exercises also involve trying something new, you can even spice up your week and find new activities to enjoy.