If you’re feeling a little low recently or finding that your brain is increasingly foggy, try doing something that activates your brain a little more. Engaging your mind is important because it may help promote mental health.
Here are 8 ways to help keep your mind more engaged in everyday life. You should discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing as well as the information below with your doctor. Although further research is necessary, these are just a few ideas to get you started.
Being creative can be a great way to keep your brain engaged. A 2014 study in Creativity Research Journal found that people who practiced musical instruments had more active brains overall. Also, a study from Brain Connectivity found that participants who read and wrote often had better overall memory. Being creative—whether it’s with music, reading, writing, or art—may lead to positive boosts in brain activity.
Exercising may be good for more than just your body—it may be good for your brain too. A study in Cell Metabolism found that exercising produces a molecule in your brain that increases learning and memory. Try going for walks, or take up a yoga or Pilates class. Just be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
People have always had a desire to be connected to each other. Some research shows that connecting with others may be good for our brain health. An American Journal of Public Health study found that women who had large social circles reduced their risk of dementia and delayed cognitive impairment. That means our friends and coworkers may be able to help keep us mentally healthy. So dust off that list of contacts, and make plans to reconnect with old buddies, create stronger relationships with existing ones, or even make some new friends.
Inside the hustle and bustle of everyday life, taking a moment of silence may actually help your mental functions. A study published in Neuroreport found that people who regularly meditated had more active brain cells. This may lead to improved memory, decision making, and sensory perception. You can start meditating by taking just 5 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breathing.
Learning a new skill set may be an effective way to keep your brain sharp and active. A University of Texas at Dallas study found that learning new skills may help strengthen the connections in your brain, improving memory and keeping the mind engaged. Sign up for a class in something you’ve always wanted to try, like digital photography or glassblowing. You never know what your brain is capable of learning.
Think of your brain as a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it could be. Use brain games as your weights. A 10-year study from Johns Hopkins found that even short sessions of cognitive training may potentially help brainpower later in life. Brain games are an easy way for your brain to get some exercise.
High levels of stress may cause your brain harm. One study found that the more stressed you are, the more white matter is found in your hippocampus, which regulates memory and emotion. This causes both to get fuzzier and fuzzier. Try a stress-relieving activity like yoga—but be sure to ask your doctor first.
Getting more sleep doesn’t just leave you well rested. It may also provide your brain with the opportunity to heal from the day. A Journal of Neuroscience study found that participants who got more sleep had increased brainpower. They also could perform a tough visual task much more easily. To help keep your brain healthy, aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a day. Read more about the importance of sleep.