Brain Training for Grownups
Ah, the first day of school. Remember how, as a child, it was the perfect opportunity to get your crap together and get back on track? Did anyone else get overly excited about new clothes, new shoes and fresh clean paper?
For all we lament the loss of summer vacation now that we’re grown up, it’s that fresh start, brain-waking back-to-school day that many of us miss the most. As we age and do the same thing every day in our jobs, year after year, our mental powers can start to feel a little mushy. The first day of school was — and is — a great time to give your brain a checkup and keep your wit sharp. Just because you’ve grown out of school doesn’t mean you’ve grown out of learning!
We all know that every doctor will tell us to eat right and exercise, but did you know that working out your mental muscles can actually fend off dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory-related diseases? Here are a few ways you can flex your big, sexy brain every day.
Learn something new
This one’s kind of obvious, but it’s true! Take yourself to school by learning a new language, cooking style or craft. If you like a class environment, check local schools and community centers for a course to sign up for, or just teach yourself! The internet is a great resource, of course, but I encourage you to remember your local library for books and videos about anything you’d like to learn.
Keep a daily journal
Pen and paper works great, so does Facebook — remembering your sensory experiences keeps your mind sharp. Take a moment every day to practice the “5 Ws” — write down a who, what, where, when and why of your day. If you don’t want to write, at least recall them before bed each night. Remembering details will become second nature to you over time.
“Do one thing every day that scares you,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s true, it keeps your brain young. Take a new route to work or on your evening run, or try performing your morning routine with your non-dominant hand. Make something new for dinner or call up a new friend. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone keeps your neurons firing and lets your brain know that it doesn’t have time to be complacent and lazy!
Be the competition
Trivia, puzzles, and games may make your brain hurt, but you should love the burn! In this age of apps, it’s never been easier to start up a game of Words With Friends or Draw Something with a friend, keeping your mind and theirs sharp. Or be the trivia junkie in your group of friends! Memorize simple facts such as conversion rates or Oscar winners and feel like a god at your local pub’s next trivia night. Your brain will thank you.
Health editor, Tini Howard is a writer, aerialist and foodie from the East Coast.