Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. We all know what happens when we don’t get enough physical activity—without a session at the gym or a good brisk walk before work we find ourselves slipping down the spiral of less motivation and less energy. The less we do, the more challenging it becomes to get back in shape, be healthy, and feel great again.
A sedentary mind will yield similar results: a sluggish brain, which means trouble concentrating, poor memory, and more difficulty with creative problem-solving. Not exactly a recipe for success at work and, by extension, in life.
People who commit to their mental wellness, on the other hand, are in a position to thrive mentally. Intellectual wellness, which is one of the seven dimensions of wellness, opens us up to new ideas and experiences. This mental stretching can empower us to make wiser decisions, improve our skills, and to feel motivated to take on new challenges. Now that’s a recipe for success!
Ready to boost your mental power and get more out of life? Here are six easy brain exercises you can do on your own.
1. Perform Mathematical Gymnastics
Do simple math problems or puzzles in your head. Don’t worry. You don’t need to start out with long division to boost your brain power. Even basic addition and subtraction will warm up those cognitive “muscles.” You’ll notice over time the math gets easier, even enjoyable. Meanwhile, you’re keeping those brain cells active and probably waking up a few that have laid dormant since your high school calculus class.
If you’re feeling creative, there are plenty of free math puzzles available online. Have a go at them if you have the time—just be careful when your boss is around!
2. Visualisation Techniques
Visualising is excellent for boosting your creativity. It can also help promote a sense of calm. Inspirational teacher John Kehoe recommends visualising what you want, whether it is a career or personal goal, as if you already have it. This type of mental exercise can stimulate your subconscious to help you make decisions that will move you closer in the direction of your intention. Any type of visualisation also exercises your imagination, improving your ability to think outside-of-the-box when problem-solving.
3. Jot down Your Gratitude
Shawn Achor, an American researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage, is a huge proponent of positive intelligence—training your brain to have a more positive, open outlook. In his research, he’s found that a positive mindset leads to better creativity, improved engagement, and a productivity boost. Sounds perfect. All you need to foster these benefits for yourself is a pen and paper and a couple of minutes a day.
He suggests writing down the most meaningful thing of the past 24 hours each day, as well as three things you are grateful for. Try this daily for at least three weeks and see how much your mental well-being and outlook improves.
4. Brain-training Games
Word puzzles, Sudoku, and brain-training apps like Personal Zen and Fit Brains are excellent tools for exercising your brain. And, they’re fun! Whether you like the traditional pen and paper brain teasers or prefer to expand your mind by swiping on your smartphone screen, there are countless brain-training games you can use. Find what works for you and fit in a few rounds of memory or logic training when you find yourself with a few minutes of free time. Doing so will help you be more alert and “wake” your brain up faster if ever you’re feeling mentally sluggish.
5. Jigsaw Puzzles
Puzzles are great for improving your logic and problem-solving abilities. They are fun to do alone and even better with friends or family. Keep a space at home or even at work for your jigsaw puzzle. When you need a ten-minute break, work on your puzzle to help stimulate your mind.
6. Read Thought-provoking Books
One would think reading would be a no-brainer as a top exercise for your mind, but most adults don’t read as much as they should. One survey found that in the UK, a fourth of all adults seldom pick up a book at all due to a lack of time.
Set time aside each day to read a book (not a few online articles or Facebook posts). The idea is to tackle a complex idea or even an imaginative story—a narrative that can’t be condensed into a few pages.
Make a commitment to your mental health just as you do for your physical well-being. These brain exercises won’t just give you a cognitive boost. You’ll notice, with regular exercise, your mind becomes more and more like a well-spring of fresh, creative ideas. You’ll also find that you feel more motivated, both at home and at work.
This is all part of WellteQ’s aim—to inspire, empower, and improve mental well-being in the workplace so businesses and individuals can thrive better.