Experts say keeping your mind fit and flexible is just as important to longevity as physical fitness.
Forget sudoku or crossword puzzles. They’re not as effective because they focus on too narrow a task. Doing puzzles is like working only one bicep instead of the entire body.
So here are some helpful mental exercises to get your gray matter into great shape.
- Physical fitness still matters. A healthy mind begins with a healthy body. So go for a walk, do yoga, take a dance class. Just move!
- Get out your crayons and markers! Draw a map of your town from memory. It’s a great complex challenge for your brain. Include major streets and side streets and landmarks. If it is easy, then try something harder like a map of Europe or the US.
- Teach an old dog a new trick. Learn something new like a language or a musical instrument. Always wanted to learn to make a soufflé? Now is the time.
- Use the not-so-handy hand. Write with your non-dominant hand. It’s hard and, because it’s hard, it increases brain activity.
- Be friendly, meet up with people. Socializing and community is an important component to longevity. Join a sports team or a club (also helps with number 3 above!). It helps to have short term and long term interaction with people.
- Om…Meditate. It activates neural pathways, mental flexibility and focus. It reduces stress and increases compassion.
- Live in the here and now. It’s all about being present in the moment. Listen to what is around you, what you see and notice and scan your body to see how it feels. Address those physical or mental feelings that are negative and learn what brings the positive ones.
- Identify three blessings. Write them down in a journal. Gratitude changes your brain and outlook on life.
- Fake it until you make it. Act like the person you want to be. If you change your emotional and mental habits, it will change you. If you want to be more confident, then act confident. Push those shoulders back and smile and it will boost your mood.
Just like any exercise routine, consistency is key. It builds and improves over time. It only takes a few minutes a day.