Mental Workouts to Strengthen Your Brain
For those of you who have followed my story about my brain aneurysm, you know how important I feel it is to keep your brain healthy and sharp. Thanks to a great neurosurgeon, Dr. Aman Patel, I have been able to come out the other side of this, year after year, with a story of success to share. But that's only half the battle. Staying healthy and keeping my brain as strong and resilient as possible is crucial. Thankfully, there are daily exercises that can help. If you'd like to keep your brain sharp, there are some activities Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based licensed neuropsychologist, suggests. Read on for the full list of exercises that can help strengthen your brain.
Mental Workouts to Strengthen Your Brain
Have you ever walked into a room and forgot what you went in there for? Perhaps you lost your train of thought mid conversation after being distracted by a noise. Maybe you forgot a name or a number or to buy milk. We’re human! We forget things. However, the more we multitask, the less we focus and the verdict is out on how this affects our brains long term.
So how do we strengthen our brains? Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD a New York City based licensed neuropsychologist and teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College, shares how we can exercise our minds and master our memory.
How do brain activities play a role in strengthening the brain?
Dr. Hafeez explains that just like physical exercise, brain exercises strengthen and keep the mind agile and active. “You have a cognitive reserve, a finite amount of memory, problem solving and visual motor even verbal reasoning skills that declines over time. The more you engage your brain, the longer you can hold on to your cognitive reserve,” explains Dr. Hafeez.
What are some brain-boosting activities someone could do before work?
There are a lot of activities one can do to boost your brain. Research shows that any stimulating activity will "boost" circulation and activate areas of the brain. According to Dr. Hafeez things like writing with your left hand, trying to remember phone numbers, doing mental math calculations, the daily crossword, or looking up a new word in the dictionary on a daily basis, helps your mind stretch in ways you can't see but certainly feel. “The frustration that you feel when doing something that’s mentally taxing is when you know your brain is getting a workout. It's good for you,” she says.
How do brain-boosting exercises help when it comes to work life?
There are a lot of websites and computer generated programs that offer memory training and visual spatial exercises. Dr. Hafeez suggests looking for puzzles, numerical sequences, and recall activities that can help boost processing speed, attention and memory. Just like your body, the more you do, the more your brain can stretch and accommodate.
How does doing these exercises before work enhance our performance?
“Doing something stimulating and challenging, before work, gets your brain geared up for the day. If you run two miles in the morning, walking seems like a stroll. Similarly, if you perform math calculations as you're driving or insist on spelling words backwards for the fun of it will make the stuff you do at work every day seem like a breeze. It'll make you more aware and vigilant not to mention focused and almost raring to keep moving from one task to the next,” Dr. Hafeez explains.
Can it enhance our performance in other areas of our lives? If so, which areas and why/how?
Mental health practitioners agree that over time, brain boosters such as learning a new language, a sport, a musical instrument, or painting, sewing, arts and crafts, boost the brain in bigger, more long-term ways. “It may even reduce or delay the onset on Alzheimer's and other mental decline, again by strengthening the cognitive reserve. Brain exercises are good for one's overall daily health and may actually protect one from more serious ailments. Daily smaller brain boosters can help with mental agility, daily memory, an active work and even social life, by helping increase attention, focus and creative, problem solving skills,” adds Dr. Hafeez.