When it comes to sharpening your skills and taking care of yourself physically, it's important not to forget your brain. While your brain isn't a muscle, you should treat it like one: it benefits from exercise, and can atrophy without it.
The average person has a tendency to get into routines and fall into comfort zones. We’ve all had a day where we put in our work hours, mindlessly took the same route home, and then tuned out the world with our favorite Netflix series. Do that too often, however, and you can switch your brain to auto-pilot
How to strengthen your brain
Fortunately, there is a lot of advice about how to exercise your brain. For example, this article notes that the best exercise for your brain involves real-world activities. Normal tasks that you do every day without thinking can be changed up to add complexity and strengthen your brain. A few examples include: doing tasks with your non-dominant hand, such as brushing your teeth; using a different, less familiar route to commute home; using a map instead of a GPS to get around; or doing math in your head.
Additionally, there are plenty of articles that list further exercises or mental games that you can play to sharpen your thinking. One example--15 Brain Exercises to Keep Your Mind Sharp--notes that incorporating new activities or changing up your normal routines slightly can help improve your memory, focus, and mood. The more senses that you can engage throughout the process the better; try different ways of physically changing your perspective to keep your mind stimulated and challenged.
Performing these exercises along with maintaining proper physical health such as healthy eating, regular physical activity, limited alcohol use, and avoiding smoking can reduce your risk of dementia and other cognitive impairments by as much as 60 percent.
Another method of sharpening your mind over a long period of time is to pick up a new hobby that requires dexterity, or to try learning something new and complex. For example, you could pick up knitting or guitar, or learn a new foreign language. These are all complex activities to help strengthen your brain and that also have the potential to make your day more interesting in the process.
If you're feeling guilty about letting your brain atrophy in front of Netflix for an obscene number of hours, why not challenge yourself to one of these tasks during your day? Start lowering your risk of cognitive impairments, sharpening your mind for your career, and living your life more fully by trying something new.
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