Brain exercises help your mental health and fitness in the same way your body benefits from physical exercise.
And just as doing a variety of physical exercises like aerobics, strength training, and stretching is more beneficial than doing just one, so it is with doing different kinds of brain exercises too.
1. Switch Hands
If you are right-handed, try using your left hand to do things like brushing your teeth, eating, and using your computer mouse.
Using your non-dominant hand results in increased brain activity.
This can be very hard at first which is why it gives your brain a good workout.
2. Eat with Chopsticks
This will force you to eat mindfully which is good for your brain, digestion and calorie consumption. (If you’re already good at this, use your non-dominant hand instead.)
3. Do Chores with Your Eyes Closed
When taking a shower, washing your hair, or sorting laundry, try doing it with your eyes closed.
4. Do Things Upside Down or Backwards
No worries, you don’t have to stand on your head for this one.
Stimulate your brain by looking at things upside down.
An easy one to start with is wearing your watch upside down.
This forces your brain to really think every time you glance at your watch.
You can also hang clocks or calendars upside down.
When you get used to that, you can graduate to using your phone, or whatever else you can imagine, upside down.
Or you can channel your inner Leonardo da Vinci and try mastering the art of writing backwards, known as mirror writing.
5. Read Books Aloud
Take turns reading and listening to a book with your significant other, a friend, or a child.
If that’s not feasible, alternate reading with listening to audiobooks.
6. Take New Routes
On a routine commute, your brain is on autopilot and gets very little stimulation.
But taking an unfamiliar route activates the cortex and hippocampus. (9)
It has been said that Bill Gates would drive a different route on the way home from work each day to stimulate his brain, and look where that got him!
There’s no need to stick to driving.
You can take new routes when walking, biking, or riding public transportation.
7. Simultaneously Use All Your Senses
Try activities that simultaneously engage all your senses.
Travel, camping, and gardening are high on Dr. Katz’s list of activities that utilize all your senses in new ways.
8. Try New Things
Do things you’ve never done before.
Travel somewhere you’ve never been.
Check out an unfamiliar ethnic cuisine.
Try a hobby that is totally out of character for you.
If you are a couch potato, sign up for a dance class.
If you are athletic, try needlepoint.
Novel experiences trigger release of dopamine, the “motivation” neurotransmitter.
It also stimulates the creation of new neurons.
9. Challenge Yourself with Mastery
Learning something new stimulates brain activity.
But as soon as you master it, the mental benefit stops because your brain becomes more efficient at the activity.
The only way to continue to stimulate your brain is to give it new challenges and stay out of your