5 Best Brain Exercises
Do you ever find yourself in brain-fog? It’s so easy when you’re under stress or mental strain. Covid has led to high levels of stress; in fact, many employees are reporting they are losing two hours per day due to stress. Feeling foggy, confused, unable to make decisions, or being forgetful are all signs and symptoms of feeling stress.
We can blame cortisol, which is a natural hormone that is released into our system when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances; stress actually is our capacity to handle what is in our life and, when these become more than what we can process, it leads to overwhelm. Cortisol impacts the executive functions in our brain, leading to the mental fog mentioned.
Getting your stress level is critical due to the toll it can take on the brain and body. It’s important that you regularly exercise your brain to keep the neural pathways open and your memory sharp. The neural pathways are the parts of your brain which helps you recall information, solve problems and perform tasks that you’ve experienced in the past.
When you exercise your brain, you’re stimulating the pathways so they’ll stay vital and active. To accomplish the exercises your brain needs, you need to change your routine once in a while and learn and develop new skills.
Mnemonic devices are some of the best ways to keep your brain stimulated and active. Here are five of the best mnemonic exercises for your brain:
- Acrostics – Acrostics involve making up a sentence where the first or last letter of each word represents the items you want to remember. One popular acrostic is, “E, G, B, D, F” – for “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” to remember the lines of the treble clef in music.
- Visual – Like taking a picture with your mind. Make them colorful and three-dimensional to make the recall easier. For example, to remember who was president when the first Atomic bomb was detonated, you could picture Harry Truman in front of a huge mushroom cloud.
- Chunking – This method is great for breaking up a long string of numbers into chunks that are more easily remembered. For example, telephone numbers are better remembered than a driver’s license number because they’re broken down into three chunks.
- Acronyms – These are words formed by taking the first letters of the items you want to remember and creating a new word from them. For example, to remember a grocery list containing “Laundry detergent, Olives, Diapers and Eggs,” you’d form the word “L-O-D-E.”
- Rhymes – Use rhymes you remember from school days or make them up yourself. You may have remembered the rhyme, “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred, ninety-two,” to remember when the explorer began his fateful trip to the New World.
All of the above methods are great ways to keep your brain in shape and to ward off memory problems, as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which can occur later in life. You can also do jigsaw or crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word finds. Keep in mind that the more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and recall information.
Challenge yourself in different ways. Learn a new skill, language or sport. And, any exercise which requires you to use your hands can also exercise your brain. Take up a musical instrument or some type of needlework to work out the hand-eye coordination area of your brain.
Most of all — be mindful rather than mindless. Get off the couch and try something new. And – don’t forget to breathe!