10 Ridiculously Simple Ways to Boost Your Brain

Boost Your Brain

If you are struggling with brain health issues, such as lack of focus, low moods, anxiousness, or memory problems, you may be relieved to learn that you are not stuck with the brain you have. Thanks to a process called neuroplasticity, your brain is continually reorganizing itself by forming new neural connections throughout your life, which gives you the power to make your brain better.

 

 

Thanks to a process called neuroplasticity, your brain is continually reorganizing itself by forming new neural connections throughout your life, which gives you the power to make your brain better. Click To Tweet

In fact, you can boost your brain by participating in simple, everyday activities that encourage greater neuroplasticity. Below are simple, brain-boosting activities that build neuroplasticity as well as bring enjoyment, fun, and meaningful social connections!

10 EASY AND FUN BRAIN BOOSTERS

1. Work on a jigsaw puzzle.

Simply working on a jigsaw puzzle activates multiple areas of the brain, making it a wonderful mental exercise to do with others or by yourself. Putting puzzle pieces together requires concentration and improves short-term memory and problem-solving. It specifically recruits multiple visuospatial cognitive abilities and may be protective against cognitive aging. One study explored the value solving jigsaw puzzles could have for helping to prevent neurocognitive disorders and found that it appears to “relevantly benefit cognition.”

2. Learn a new word a day.

Subscribe to Merriam-Webster’s daily vocabulary word online and get it delivered to your inbox. Memorize and practice using it, and you’ll boost your brain! Research has found that our working memory can only hold so much information. Learning new words actually helps our brain to create more ways of retaining information. Research also shows that when we learn a new word, it triggers the reward centers of the brain, making it a pleasurable activity. A larger vocabulary allows for greater expression and builds self-esteem too.

3. Take a dance class.

Practicing new steps and moving to the rhythm of music in a social setting provides multiple brain health benefits by activating your brain in several areas. Music stimulates the brain’s reward centers and the social connection can alleviate low mood. Of course, the aerobic exercise itself releases feel-good hormones that relieve stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, learning new dance moves can increase your brain’s processing speed and memory. It’s never too late in life to enjoy dance. Research on seniors over the age of 75 found that dance is associated with a lower risk of dementia.

4. Play table tennis.

A simple game of table tennis (ping pong) involves coordination, strategy, and focus. A Japanese clinical study determined that the game activates as many as 5 separate areas of the brain! It found that ping-pong players with brain disease showed improved brain function and awareness, as well as reduced dementia and depression. Ping-pong’s aerobic workout improves blood flow to the brain, which is associated with better cognition, memory, and hippocampal neurogenesis, according to research, and promotes restful sleep, which is critical to brain health. Table tennis is now even used therapeutically to mediate the effects of neurodegenerative diseases. (Tennis and pickleball also deliver similar benefits!)

5. Practice juggling.

You can literally juggle your way to better brain function! One paper published in Nature showed that taking 3 months to learn juggling sparks growth in certain parts of the brain. Researchers studied 24 students over a 3-month period—half of them learned to juggle, the other half did not. Their brains were scanned before the 3-month period of learning, and after. The scans revealed that jugglers had more gray matter in the areas of the brain that control memory, language, and reading.

6. Play a musical instrument.

Learning to play a musical instrument improves your memory, as well as activates both hemispheres and multiple brain regions, which delivers a host of brain benefits at any age.  A study examining people ages 60 and 85 who received piano lessons for 6 months “showed more robust gains in memory, verbal fluency, the speed at which they processed information, planning ability, and other cognitive functions” than the control group. Research has even found that the corpus callosum, a giant bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain, is larger in musicians. Thus, there’s great benefit in playing regularly. And if you don’t play an instrument, research shows that even listening to music is good for the brain and mood!

7. Start a new hobby.

Find a hobby you’ve always wanted to develop, and jump in. If you need structure and guidance, most communities offer classes in a number of activities such as cooking, baking, painting, photography, knitting, and many others. Learning something new causes the brain to build connections between neurons, replacing some of those we lose over time. Research indicates that hobbies and leisure activities are great stress relievers, too. Anything that reduces stress is good for the brain.

8. Meditate.

Meditation is a powerful and simple brain booster you can do at any time of the day. Even a few minutes of simple breathing meditation can calm and relax the body. One study found that just 10 minutes of meditation improves focus, making it helpful to those with ADHD. That may be because meditation increases greater blood flow, according to studies, which boosts brain function. If you make meditation a regular habit, even better. A Harvard study showed that just 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which controls learning and memory, and in other areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. Researchers have found that years of meditation can actually change the structure and function of the brain!

9. Take a new route.

Get out of your daily commute routine and take a new route. Or switch up your mode of transport by carpooling, riding your bike, or hopping on public transport. (Take the train and let your mind drift as you look out the window.) Finding new routes activates the hippocampus and other areas of the brain believed to store spatial memory, according to research. When you take a different route, you’ll see new things and you may have to problem solve or be creative. This will make new connections in your brain. Research shows that seeking newness also makes us feel good as it releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone.

10. Play a game of chess.

There’s a very well-known and studied relationship between chess playing and improved memory function, but there are multiple benefits. In a study that appeared in Cognitive Brain Research, researchers performed MRI scans on chess players. They revealed activity in both the left and right hemispheres of the frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes of the brain. This indicated that a single game of chess can stimulate planning, follow-through, attention, impulse control, direction sense, and visual-spatial ability. That’s a lot of brainpower payoff for simply playing a game of chess.

Engaging in any of these activities that boost neuroplasticity in your brain ultimately makes your brain more resilient. When combined with a foundation of a brain-healthy diet, restorative sleep, and exercise, you can make great strides in improving your brain health, moods, focus, and cognitive function!

Brain health and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

16 Comments »

  1. Thougtful article! Thanks

    Comment by Jim Woodburne — February 7, 2022 @ 3:25 AM

  2. Love your newsletters

    Comment by Josephine — February 7, 2022 @ 5:49 AM

  3. Very good article. I already do some of the activities you mentioned. Thank you

    Comment by Adrienne Frankowski — February 7, 2022 @ 6:36 AM

  4. Thank you for reinforcing these great ideas for stimulating the gray matter.

    Comment by Deborah Phillips — February 7, 2022 @ 7:35 AM

  5. Appreciate brain activation ideas, thank you!

    Comment by Pam Williams — February 7, 2022 @ 8:05 AM

  6. Very helpful information.

    Comment by christina mills — February 7, 2022 @ 8:46 AM

  7. Very helpful information. I appreciate your research and education.

    Comment by christina mills — February 7, 2022 @ 8:47 AM

  8. Does memorizing lists or bible verses improve brain function? I took Jim Karol’s memory course through Amen University last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot seem to access it now through your website. I really would like to practice the card tricks he performed. Is this still on your site? If so, how can I access it?

    Comment by Debbie Barnes — February 7, 2022 @ 9:16 AM

  9. Thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Adelaide Waring — February 7, 2022 @ 10:17 AM

  10. Very interesting and informative! Will try to execute at least some of these things to improve brain functioning

    Comment by Samatha — February 7, 2022 @ 2:38 PM

  11. Thanks for the great simple tips Dr. Eamon. I recently started a dance class and I feel so invigorated. I used to dance when I was a little girl and then got focused on raising a family and now 40 years later, I just bought a new pair of dance shoes!

    Comment by Kathy — February 7, 2022 @ 7:19 PM

  12. Thank you for this information, I will try it with my son, who is autistic.

    Sindy
    From South Africa

    Comment by Sindy Mbadi — February 7, 2022 @ 11:24 PM

  13. I think the 10 ridiculously simple ways to boost ur brain are great!!!!!But I would skip ‘simple’ in the title as some are time consuming. I will be able to adapt a few of these into my daily life. I play virtual games with my long distance friends and that gets my brain clicking as you have to come up with items for a list in 3 minutes. I think anything where you have to apply your brain is good for your well being. Alzheimers runs in my family (no generation is skipped) and my mom was proactive playing sudoku, paddle tennis, ping pong, and varies card games which helped her brain remain strong. I compared My elderly cousin to my mom that died before my mom cuz no one played games w her only stuck her in front of a tv all day. I taught my mom 28 games and we played for many years until her demise.

    Comment by Lynn — February 8, 2022 @ 4:29 PM

  14. Very helpful thanks! Didn’t realize jigsaw were so benificial……liked the idea of learning a new word a day …brilliant!

    Comment by Yvonne Marie forster — February 10, 2022 @ 12:37 AM

  15. Wow! I need to try juggling! I love dancing so that will be fun! I need to meditate better. I will make sure I include them today and hopefully everyday. I think I will try jugging next week, though.

    Comment by Patty — February 10, 2022 @ 4:49 AM

  16. Hello Debbie, thank you for reaching out. Please contact our team at support@amenuniversity.com.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2022 @ 1:48 PM

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