Sometimes, your brain needs a workout. Just like your body, your mind needs to stay active in order to maintain its health over time. There are several different activities that you can take up to improve the strength of your brain and your mental game to help you thrive in a business environment.
Read Books That Push Your Boundaries
Everyone knows that reading will strengthen your mind, but it’s not just about looking at the words on the page; it’s about analyzing the content. So, you should be reading books that really make you think. It’s great to enjoy romance novels and other easy-reading genres, but you should push your boundaries to really exercise your mind. There are a number of ways that reading stimulates your brain:
- Expanding your vocabulary
- Developing your analytical skills
- Requiring focus
- Boosts your memory
If you’re into a particular genre, then it’s best to try something new and get outside of your comfort zone. If you don’t know where to start, here are 12 books that are guaranteed to make you more intelligent – including The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Cosmos by Carl Sagan and a Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
You can even try joining a book club where you can voice your analysis of the text and talk amongst other people to share opinions. It’s a great way to put your brain to use and compound on the benefits of simply reading.
Do Crossword Puzzles
Many people do crosswords as an idle activity while they’re commuting or having their breakfast. However, it’s more than something to keep you busy. Crossword puzzles actually have a significant positive effect on your cognitive functions and memory.
In fact, studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between doing crossword puzzles and improving brain health. For example, the activity may delay memory loss among the those with dementia and its benefits among adults may last for as long as 10 years.
In a 2013 study, it was found that crosswords and other forms of mental exercise were some of the most effective methods in preserving memory and improving cognitive function. The researchers even found that these activities were sometimes more effective than medication.
So, the next time you’re reading the paper, turn to the crossword page. Completing the puzzle may have some long-lasting mental health benefits. There are also plenty of mobile apps available for smartphones and tablets that allow you to complete crossword puzzles.
Try Your Hand at Poker
For you risk-takers out there, poker is another fun activity that can strengthen your mental game. It requires the use of various mental skills in order to secure a positive result, such as risk assessment and mathematical analysis. You can play the game at the best real money poker sites for the chance to win actual prizes, or at free-play poker sites if you’d rather not risk your dollars.
There are a number of different poker variants for you to try. Texas Hold’em is the most popular game in the online poker world, but Omaha and Seven Card Stud are also good choices if you like to mix it up a little bit. Poker tournaments also provide you with a great opportunity to exercise your skills, as you play against hundreds of players for the chance to win your share of a generous prize pool.
Play Stimulating Video Games
You probably grew up with your parents telling you to put down the video games and do something educational – but, video games actually can be an intellectual activity. It all depends on which games you play. Games that require you to multitask and use advanced strategies can have a positive impact on your brain’s health.
Strategy games like Starcraft, Civ and XCom require you to plan ahead and manage limited resources. Players have to think quickly and analyze situations – often times with incomplete information. If you prefer slower paced games, then action RPGs are the best option. In these games, you are placed into a fictional world where you are required to make tough decisions to be successful.
It may seem unlikely, but Super Mario 64 is considered one of the best games for improving brain function. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charite University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus found that the classic Nintendo game can increase the grey matter responsible for spatial orientation, memory function, strategic planning and motor skills.
Learn a New Skill
If you’d like to do an activity where you’re working towards a goal and making a commitment, consider learning a new skill. There are plenty of new activities that you can take up to boost your brain, including:
- Playing an instrument
- Learning a new language
- Painting or drawing
According to CCSU Business and Development, there are a number of ways in which learning a new skill can boost your brain health. Over time, you’ll be able to learn things and process information more quickly as it changes the chemistry of your brain. Learning a skill can also help you adapt to change much better and has the ability to reduce your chances of developing dementia later on in life.
It’s easy to improve your mental game, and you don’t have to spend very much money or necessarily leave the house to do so. Including just one of these activities in your life can really help keep your mind active and healthy – which will benefit you in both the long and short term.