For most of us, if I told you to find your way home from work, school or any place you go on a regular basis, the journey wouldn’t be that difficult. Actually, in most cases, the process of finding our way to and from locations that are routine doesn’t require much thought and is almost an automatic process.
For those of us who hang pictures on the walls of our homes, if the pictures have been there for years, we usually don’t see them the same way someone new who enters our home sees them. Why is that? Well, I would like to suggest that our brains go on “autopilot” or coast when we’re not presented with new things to stimulate us.
While routines and schedules are great, our brains also like variety. In the book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program by Gary Small, it states that the brain likes variety and that change can be good. But how do we add variety to our lives without disrupting our schedules and routines? Below are 4 ways to add variety to our lives, ensuring that our brains continue to remain stimulated.
- Move the pictures at home. Since our brains like change, sometimes the pictures at home can blend into our surroundings. A good way to stimulate your brain and freshen up your home is to move pictures around your house; you can take it a step further by changing the paint color of your walls or moving furniture to new spots, as well.
- Take a different way home. Just like the pictures on the wall, when you travel the same route everyday, it is easy for the brain to be on “autopilot.” Taking a new route home allows you to see new things, but also makes you more aware of the fact that you have to do something different to get to the same location. Using a map or figuring out directions are also great ways to stimulate your brain.
- Use a different hand. Most of us are either right or left handed, so when you are forced to use the hand that isn’t as familiar to you, it feels awkward. Neurobics is a term, which means “engaging different parts of the brain to do familiar tasks”. Examples of Neurobics are brushing your teeth or eating a meal with your non-dominant hand. Theoretically doing these types of activities can strengthen the pathways in the opposite side of your brain.
- Learn something new. Picking up new skills or information helps keep your brain strong even in the later years of life. New and complex tasks stimulate learning and every time you learn something new it forces your brain to be active.
While it is often said that we use only 10% of our brains, I would like to suggest that a part of the reason is that we stop finding new ways to challenge our brain and often get stuck in the familiar and routine. By making a few simple changes to everyday patterns, it keeps our brain on its “toes” and thinking in new, more challenging ways. Much like a body in motion stays in motion, keeping your brain active has benefits all its own.
How do you keep your brain active? What tips and tricks do you have for keeping your mind agile? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author: Eric Daw is an active aging specialist and the owner of Omni Fitt. Omni Fitt is dedicated to the wellbeing, health and quality of life of people aged 65 and over. Eric motivates and empowers the older adult population to take responsibility for their independence, health and fitness through motivating and positive coaching experiences.