Our brains, just like our bodies, need exercise to keep working.  Left to our own usual habits of eating the same meals, going to the same places, hanging out with the same people, using the same devices and doing the same things over and over again, our brains begin to stagnate.  On auto-pilot, our brains essentially turn off.

Time to get things moving mentally and physically if you want your brain to function with the agility and acuity it inherently has to help you achieve your goals.  Here are scientifically proven ways to wake up your brain.

  1.  Immerse yourself in a hobby.  If you don’t already have a “non-work” interest that you enjoy doing, find one.  It doesn’t matter what that interest is as long as it engages you. Catherine Holecko, a noted editor and writer, says that “…finding time for a hobby is totally worth it…losing yourself in a project you love gives your brain a break (from negative stress) …and working hard on a project boosts self worth…”  Your hobby may give you a greater sense of purpose and may also help improve the community in which you live.
  2. Switch things up in your daily life and give yourself new challenges.  According to research by the Mayo Clinic, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain on its toes.  Crossword puzzles, learning and playing games such as bridge and Scrabble, and playing musical instruments are all hobbies that can offer your brain stimulating and stretching experiences.  And who knows…you may just turn your childhood piano playing days into piano gigs with friends, community/church groups and/or teaching others who want to learn how to play.  Your brain will love it.
  3. Get some physical exercise…regularly.  Our brains work better when we’re nurturing our bodies with movement.  The time it takes to go for a walk, a run, a swim, etc. offers your brain time to think and to generate new ideas.  Part of the reason physical exercise is so good for the brain, says Justin Rhodes, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “…has to do with blood flow…when we exercise, blood pressure and blood flow increase everywhere in the body, including the brain.  More blood means more energy and oxygen which make our brains perform better…”  (Steve Jobs instituted “walking meetings” at Apple…he believed that he and everyone else thought better while moving than while sitting at or behind a desk.)
  4. Engage both the left and right sides of the body to help stimulate the brain.  Dr. Geil Browning, co-founder of the acclaimed Emergenetics Institute that studies brain enhancement, says that “…any activities involving interactions between the left and right sides of the body will stimulate the left and right hemispheres of the brain…to enable better communication and…to help you learn and retain information.”  Try some of the 26 brain gym exercises developed by Paul E. and Gail E. Dennison such as the Cross Crawl…while standing, touch your right hand to your left ankle and then switch.

Whatever you do to wake up your brain to enhance its agility, do it daily, and find that they are integral to what makes us smart!