Don’t remember where you left the car keys? Walk into a room and can’t remember what you were there for? Ever feel as if you just can’t think?
We tend to relate memory loss to age, but forgetfulness happens to all of us. Stress and having too much on the go can easily dull our mental powers. Try our suggestions to sharpen your mind and thinking abilities:
1. Make simple changes
We love our routines. The more something becomes second nature, the less our brains have to work. Shake things up a bit by changing routines: drive a different route, use your opposite hand to open the door, eat breakfast for dinner, take the stairs. Even simple changes will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.
2. Pick up a book
If you always read fiction, try a biography. If mysteries interest you, switch to a history book. Or, if you don’t read much at all, start! Visit your library or load your e-reader with a different topic than usual. You’ll expand your knowledge and stretch your imagination.
3. Turn off the television
After a hard day, it’s tempting to zone out in front of the television. With so many mindless shows out there, we’re often not expanding our thinking abilities or exercising our brains. Instead, spend time talking with your family or friends, take a walk, or work on a project—anything that stimulates your senses.
4. Play games
Crosswords, board games, cards, Sudoku, quizzes and online games that rely on math, word skills and logic are entertaining and fun ways to challenge your brain and keep your mind sharp. Dust off that cribbage board to clear out the cobwebs.
5. Eat, eat!
No, we won’t lecture you about healthy eating—you know what’s good for you and what isn’t (in case you don’t, check out Canada’s Food Guide). One reminder, though: make it a point to treat your brain to the type of healthy fats it craves on a regular basis: fish oils, nuts and olive oil. Stay away from trans and saturated fats. Too much junk food leaves the brain feeling bloated, much like it does to our waistlines.
6. Tell a tale
We all tell stories every day. We describe what happened on the way to work, how we reacted when we heard some news, and who we met. Storytelling is simply how we interpret events, build memories and share experiences with other people. Sometimes our storytelling needs a boost, especially in an age where texting, quick emails and fast phone calls take the place of in-person dialogues in our busy lives. Practice the art of conversation to develop your vocabulary, speaking skills and observation powers. Really think about how you communicate. Are your stories interesting, compelling and memorable?
7. Take a hike!
Remember the feeling you have after a long hike or other strenuous exercise? Exercise affects our brains as well as our bodies. You can feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. The sense of achievement and clarity that comes after pushing ourselves off the couch and out the door is our brain’s way of saying thanks for the workout.