Just like moving your body is crucial in keeping your body physically healthy, you also need to work out your brain so it can function at maximum capacity. Keep your skills sharp this winter with these six tips:
1. Maintain a Growth Mindset
No matter your age or educational background, if you want to stay sharp, you must believe you are capable of it. Maintain a growth mindset, in which you believe you can develop new skills through effort, rather than a fixed mindset, in which you believe your skill sets are innate and can’t be improved. Having a growth mindset will help you tackle all of the various tasks that improve brain health.
2. Get Out of Routine
A simple but effective way to stay sharp this winter is to get out of your normal routine. When tasks become habits, it makes your brain essentially operate on autopilot, which is great for efficiency, but that lack of effort means your brain isn’t being worked out on a regular basis. Switch up your daily tasks occasionally – use your opposite hand, take a different route on your commute, stand while you talk on the phone instead of sitting, etc.
3. Take Up a Different Hobby
Challenging your brain to learn new skills can improve your mental functioning because it keeps your brain actively engaged. Take up a new hobby this winter to improve your overall cognition – the more different from your usual hobbies and activities, the better! Learn a new language, try out an instrument, cook using a new method, or do jigsaw puzzles or crosswords.
4. Get Moving
Going for regular walks isn’t just good for your cardiovascular health – the increase in blood flow also helps your brain function more effectively. In fact, a 2014 Stanford University study found that walking increased creative thinking by 60% compared to sitting. If you’re in a chilly climate, even a short walk can help keep you sharp, and even indoor walking can help.
5. Read Everyday
Reading is a leisure activity that does double-duty by keeping your mind sharp at the same time. Prioritize reading at least a few pages or some articles every day. This opens your mind to new concepts, especially for nonfiction, but even fiction requires you to focus and pay attention to details, which works out your brain.
6. Engage with Others
Staying sharp isn’t just a solo activity – engage with others and have stimulating conversations. Whether it’s discussing deep topics that make you think, having lighthearted debates, or chatting about current events, talking with and listening to others requires your mind to be focused and alert.
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