Brain Power: Make Yourself Smarter!
Since one of my websites deals with Mental Fitness, I spend a great deal of time wrapping my brain around mental fitness, brain health, memory, brain games, Alzheimer’s prevention, and so forth. Truth be told, even if it weren’t for this particular website, I’d still be found reading every book, magazine, and article I could get my hands on that dealt with the health of the brain.
Trust me, it’s an incredibly fascinating field. One can’t underestimate it’s value, either. Think about it, we spend a great deal of time and money in the pursuit of physical fitness – and rightfully so! But, what good will any of that do us if we allow our brains to turn to mush?
I don’t want to give details – because it would be decidedly uncool to do so – but I recently had a conversation with someone who told me (with as much shock on their face as I had on mine) that their co-workers were unable to do simple arithmetic. I’m talking about the sort of arithmetic that a fourth grader knocks out within 5 minutes. The co-workers range in age from about 28 to 50.
Before I could pick up my jaw, I was told that they also struggled with simple spelling and vocabulary words.
I’m afraid that this isn’t a rare thing. I’m part of a large, wonderful family – but, aside from them, I’m somewhat kind of sheltered from society. I work from home, so I don’t have a lot of experience with face to face human interaction. However, from what I’ve seen and heard, it seems that many people aren’t just letting their minds turn to mush, they’re facilitating the process.
What would it take to snap people out of the mental rut they’re allowing themselves to sink into? I have no idea but, truth be told, it kind of scares me. Make no mistake about it, you won’t agree with 100 percent of the things you read on Self Help Daily or Out of Bounds. I wouldn’t want every visitor to agree with every word. That would mean I wasn’t – in any way – encouraging you to think or encouraging you to challenge other ideas, beliefs, and concepts.
One of the things nearest and dearest to my heart is mental health and brain fitness. I spend hours each day researching, reading, and writing within this area. Maybe that’s why I often come across as almost desperate to get through to people. If we don’t use our brains, challenge our minds, and pursue mental growth… you guessed it, mush.
We become adults who require a 4th grader to show us how to add fractions, tell us how to spell Antarctica, and clarify the capital of Texas when we aren’t sure if it’s Austin or Dallas. Granted, as adults we sort of step away from these subjects. Antarctica, Austin, and fractions may not necessarily come up in our everyday conversations and activities…
…. especially if these activities never vary and especially if the majority of these activities take place in front of sitcoms, reality television, or YouTube. Oh-my-God, no she didn’t go there.
Mental Exercises and Brain Games
This would be me encouraging you… perhaps even pleading with you…. to broaden your mental horizons – each and every day. Put aside a little time each day to challenge yourself, mentally. Below are a few mental exercises that you can do just about anywhere. Occasionally leave the radio off in the car and give your mind something it really craves – challenging brain games and mental exercises. They’re invigorating, they’re rewarding, and they’ll increase your mental power.
Experts tell us that we can increase our brain’s powers and strength by working it out. Please make this part of your everyday activities and put it at the forefront of your goals. In no time at all, fourth graders will be coming to you for all the answers.
- Name all 50 states, alphabetically.
- Name each state’s capital (and I promise Nashville IS the capital of Tennessee – no matter how badly you want it to be Knoxville!)
- Name the 8 planets. Remember, Pluto was stripped of its planet status. Eh, don’t feel bad, Pluto, I’m not a planet either.
- Name the 7 continents.
- In the grocery store, calculate the cost of your purchase as you put things into the cart – see if you can come within $2.00. It’s harder than you think – especially when you have a large purchase and ESPECIALLY when you’re as mathematically challenged as I am.
- When you’re reading, write down and look up all unfamiliar words.
- Whenever you hear a word you aren’t 100 percent how to spell, find out how and write the word down 10 times. Test yourself the next day.
- Read at least 1 classic this year.
- Brain Games! Try the Lumosity Brain Training Program. Only $6.60 a month.
- Read the newspaper more often. When you read about a person or place that’s unfamiliar to you, do a little research and soak up the new information. It’s sort of like turning each newspaper into a stimulating mental workout.
- Work a crossword puzzle each day.
- Think of favorite television shows from your youth – challenge yourself to remember each character’s name as well as the actors and actresses who played them. Depending on the length of time (and the size of the cast!), it could take an hour or more for a name to come to you. But here’s the thing, even if you have to work for the answer, you’re still getting a great mental workout. A few days ago, I racked my brain for nearly an hour to remember the name of a guest star on The Golden Girls. I refused to research his name! It came to me while making supper and I felt like I’d ran a mental marathon.
- Pick up a few grade school workbooks if you need a great refresher’s course in math. They’re beside the coloring books and you have my permission to grab one of those as well. Express yourself.
- Pick an animal, bird, or fish that you know absolutely nothing about and spend the next week reading about your new friend. Spiders, sharks, polar bears, penguins, hummingbirds, possums, squirrels, bulldogs, iguanas… the list is endless and the opportunities are priceless. Each week, take on a new animal.
- Read National Geographic magazine regularly. Collect old issues – ebay, yard sales, and Goodwill stores make it an unexpectedly fun scavenger hunt. The pictures and the information can’t be beaten.
- Each month, tackle a period of history or an ancient culture. Few things are more fascinating to read about than Ancient China. Again, National Geographic magazines are a wealth of information.
- Tune in to the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and Animal Planet. These outstanding channels serve information on platters of entertainment and your brain will love every fascinating minute.
- Read old books as well as new books. Old books challenge your mind and stimulate your thinking in a way that new books don’t quite measure up to. This is part of the reason why I have a Thursday Throwback feature on Self Help Daily. I can take an author from the distant past and sort of hand the forum over to them for a day. If you’ve never read older books, I encourage you to browse through the articles in the Thursday Throwback category. I know you’ll love them – they’re pretty special.
- This one will surely be unexpected, but sign up for Twitter! Find a number of people to “follow” from a wide range of interests. Reading other’s opinions and updates will broaden your range. And, quite frankly, it’s a challenge to express yourself in a limited number of words – at least it’s tough for me. Shhhhh… You’ll find yourself reading more, interacting more, and thinking more.
Finally, read up on the different foods that are great for promoting brain health. I have a great number of articles on Out of Bounds (which I recently treated to a new look) detailing which foods are best for your brain’s health. I read earlier that a favorite snack of mine, sunflower seeds, are an excellent “brain food.”
From Real Age: “In a study, those who reported getting the highest amount of vitamin E — 19 milligrams a day — were about 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease over a 10-year period. People in the study got much of their vitamin E from processed or sat-fat foods, like butter, margarine, and mayo. Our suggestion? Get your E from healthy sources, such as nuts, seeds, veggies, plant oils, and nut butters. The bonus with nuts and seeds is that you also get a shot of hunger-quelling protein. Not to mention some heart-healthy fats.”
You can gain more brain power. It’s a fact. The flip side, however, reads like a horror story: You can lose brain power. Like a coin that’s in the air, waiting to land……. it’s your call.