As the sun begins to rise later and set earlier and we buckle down to experience our third COVID-19 winter, we can’t forget about our health. More specifically, our brain health. Think of your brain as the command center of your body. It helps your body perform all its functions while also allowing you to think, feel and experience emotions.
Training your brain can help improve your ability to think fast, keep your memory sharp and prevent cognitive decline as you get older, in simple terms, it improves your mental fitness. As Albertans, we know how hard it can be to exercise our minds and keep our noggins in tip-top shape during the winter months. But with these activities, it makes working out our brains a lot easier and a little more fun.
Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill forces multiple areas of your brain to work out. You could learn to cook, pick up a new instrument or even build a ship inside a bottle. All these things and more will challenge your brain and give you something new and fun to figure out.
Make simple changes
We might age, but our minds can stay young with easy and simple changes to our routines. Go to a different grocery store and walk the unfamiliar aisles, use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or drive or walk a new route. These can help challenge your brain and shake it awake from its comfortable and automatic routines.
There are specific brain fitness programs and games that help tease and challenge your brain. Suduko, crosswords and video games can all improve your brain’s speed and memory. These games help you apply logic, word skills, math and more to be able to solve and complete the challenge. Spend 15 minutes doing these fun activities every day to help your brain game improve.
Meditation can be relaxing while giving your brain a workout at the same time. While meditating, you’re calming your mind while at the same time, engaging your brain in a new way to help increase your mental fitness.
Food for your brain
Did you know that 60 per cent of your brain is made of fat? Yep, it is. Half of that fat contains omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain uses these omega-3s to help build brain and nerve cells as well as assist with learning and memory. When you eat a meal, try to include fish oils from salmon, nuts, seeds and olive oil.
Physical exercise = brain exercise
Physical exercise is great for the brain. When you move your body, your brain uses everything it knows about coordination and muscle function. When we exercise, we increase oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain—helping us think harder, better, faster and maybe even a bit stronger. Switch up how you exercise to challenge your brain with activities such as yoga, exercise classes, sports and more
Read something new
If you already read, branch out from familiar topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel or read foreign authors, the classics or random books. If you’re not a reader, try starting your book-based journey with a short goal of reading for five minutes at a time. You can even try to read a couple of pages a day and build up from there.
Train your brain
Brain training has become a major trend. There are many courses, websites and books with programs that teach you all about how to train your brain and consistently give your mind a great workout.
Give some of these tips and trick a try this winter. We could all use a bit more to do and think about to occupy our minds and time in healthy ways this winter. Your body and your brain will thank you for it.