Our clients at Vida Wellness often ask us about brain health. People want to maintain their cognitive faculties for as long as possible and are keen to understand how best they can achieve this.
One thing I have been talking about a lot recently is the importance of a brain-friendly mindset. I love this as it’s so simple and I find it really resonates with people.
When you adopt a brain-friendly mindset, you suddenly find hundreds of opportunities to improve your brain health every day.
Adopting a brain-friendly mindset basically means being open to new opportunities and willing to try new things.
But you don’t have to learn Japanese or learn to dance the waltz (although if you want to, go ahead!).
You can improve your brain health with some tiny, quick and (mostly) free changes. You don’t even have to do anything new, you can just shake up the way you do everyday things. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t be able to stop yourself!
Here are 9 examples of brain-friendly changes you can make to your routine. You could do any of them today, they all take less than ten minutes and don’t cost anything:
- Read a different newspaper or listen to a new radio station. Really pay attention to what you read or hear. Do you agree or disagree? What questions would you ask or how would you debate an issue with the author or presenter?
- Move your bin (or anything else you use repeatedly during the day). We spend much of our time on autopilot and when our everyday items aren’t where we expect them to be, our brain can’t stay snoozing, it has to wake up. Other examples include moving everyday items like salt, pepper or herbs in the kitchen. I like to move the cooking oil from one side of the oven to the other, or to switch the recycling bins around.
- Sit in a different chair. Think about it – how often do you sit in the same chair at the table, or at the same end of the sofa? Take a different pew and change the view (and have a laugh when you see how resistant others in the household are to this change!). All these little changes stimulate your brain and don’t take any time or cost any money.
- Swap your meals around. Eat dinner at breakfast time and breakfast in the evening. Why not? You don’t have to do it every day – just once! You will feel the difference and that’s enough to get your neurons buzzing.
- Walk (or cycle/drive) a different route to somewhere you go regularly (train station, gym, or supermarket). The change in scenery will take your brain off autopilot. Even better, make a point to really pay attention along the way. What can you see? Smell?
- Do an everyday activity with the wrong hand eg. brush your teeth or open the front door with your non-dominant hand. By challenging yourself to use the non-dominant side of your brain, you develop new neurological connections which can be used for other mental tasks, including memory and learning.
- Try a new food or type of food. Add something new to your salad or order a new sandwich filling. Pay attention to the smell, taste and texture. Learn about where it is grown or how it is best cooked.
- Learn something new and quick – how to make a new salad dressing, a different way to do your hair or how to do something on your computer or smartphone. Ask a friend or look on YouTube for instructional videos. Choose something really bite-sized and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, as well as provide a great boost to your brain.
- Set yourself a challenge. Time yourself for the crossword or your morning walk to the shop. The challenge can be timed or difficulty. Either way, make it fun and brief. You will gain confidence with each challenge and stimulate your brain too!
I hope this has given you ideas for other quick and fun things you could do to shake up your routine and give your brain a boost. The options are endless and the best thing is to keep changing it up!
The great thing about a brain-friendly mindset is that there is no end to the opportunities to stimulate your brain. It’s all about making tiny little changes to our everyday routine – which is what a brain-friendly mindset means. It’s also a lot of fun and shakes things up (who doesn’t get a bit bored of their routine sometimes?).
I would love to know how you get on – let me know which of these you tried and how it went?
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All material in this article is provided for information and educational purposes only. It is not advice and should not be relied on as such. Always consult an exercise or health professional if you have any health issues and need personalised advice. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy reading our articles.