I frequently preach that everyone has time to add a brain exercise or two to the week. I know that sometimes extra time is not an option so how do you add a brain workout without creating more time? When I was asked to write this post for The Succulent Wife last month, I decided to see if I could roll some extra brain workouts into my day without changing my routine at all. Just 2 rules:
The activities all had to be part of something I needed to do or was going to do anyway and the activity had to involve at least 2 brain processes – more bang for the buck!
Day One: Sunday hike
Almost every Sunday my husband and I take a very early, long hike. Starting the day with a good dose of fresh air and nature clears the mind, refreshes the soul, and allows us to get in our cardio while I take photos to make puzzles for the week – serves lots of purposes. I threw two twists in our Sunday hike.
- I picked a trail that we had not taken before. Taking a new route helps you focus on the details of the trail – new plants, new trees, new birds, and new places for creepy spiders to hang out – all unexpected and require a different level of attention.
- Every 15 minutes (or so) I switched my hiking stick hand. Wow, what a difference that small change makes! I had to focus when my clumsy left hand took control and had to re-focus with every switch — even when my dominant hand took the lead.
Day Two: Monday trip to the bank
Monday afternoon I needed to deposit a few checks in my account at the bank! I decided to again change up 2 things and ended up working on depth perception, attention, planning, and avoiding distractions all on the way to make a deposit.
- I changed my shoes – no flip-flops, hiking boots, or cross trainers. I wore a pair of round bottom shoes and I walked on the curb instead of the sidewalk. I really had to focus on my steps to keep from falling off the edge!
Day Three: Traffic Jam Games
I got stuck in a pretty typical Southern California traffic jam on the way to a client’s office. As I sat on the entrance ramp to the highway, I decided to work on my word finding skills. I thought of 3 synonyms for every noun on the billboards on the side of the road. During that 15 minute period, I worked on word retention and recall, associations and categories, sparked my imagination, and made myself chuckle a few times. I think I will do this one more often!
Day Four: Wednesday learned something new
I have been collaborating with my favorite game developer from Spain to develop a new social App. Thinking in terms of Player experience in a social environment was a huge mental challenge by itself but then we needed to create a mind map using a program that would allow us both to edit and review. So… I had to adapt and learn a new software program. Not only was I working out the planning and mapping part of my brain but I had to learn a whole new set of commands and functions.
Day Five: Thursday social time
One of the best things you can do to keep your brain healthy is to interact with others. Socializing sometimes falls by the wayside in the flurry of busy lives. On Thursday I invited a colleague I’ve been working with on a project, over for dinner. Not only did we work out some business details, but we also got to know each other better, had some great conversations about common interests, and shared a laugh or two.
Day Six: Family time with a twist
Friday night we got together with my son, my niece, my nephews, and a few friends. Instead of just hanging out, we played an old game called Shut the Box. It is really addictive dice game and is a fast moving group game. I had to add, subtract, and laugh! Pretty enjoyable brain workout!
Day Seven: Playing games at the gym
It was cardio day for me so when I got on the rowing machine, I chose to play one of the games on the screen. I picked darts. I could control where the darts landed by rowing faster or slower. The better my aim (control), the better I scored. This activity made me plan my actions carefully to increase my score working a whole group of higher level thinking skills while I fired all those brain chemicals that are a natural by-product of physical exercise.
I think I will make this a habit!
This post was originally published on the Succulent Wife’s blog: www.thesucculentwife.com and is being reprinted here. This week of neurobics inspired our current Sunday Neurobics posts.