Since graduating college and receiving my undergraduate degree, I find it hard to keep my mind engaged each day. Sure, I work full-time and that requires some brain power, but I struggle to feed my brain the high intensity learning and interaction it once had throughout my years in school.
My brain thrives on interacting with the people and world around me; thus, I try to keep it active each day through socialization and an active lifestyle of exploration and curious discoveries and hobbies. Everyone has different lifestyles and ways of learning, but here are a few activities that keep my brain continuously growing and expanding with knowledge.
Photo: Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
Read everything! Reading is a great way to facilitate thinking and engage with your brain’s thoughts and ideas. Not only does reading allow me to learn about other perspectives and ideas, but reading contributes greatly to stimulating creativity. Read a variety of materials on a wide array of topics to keep the brain constantly thinking and absorbing new information. You can even refresh what you have studied in school by reading materials on topics that interest you.
I rely on puzzles as a leisure activity that reduces stress and anxiety, but puzzles are also one of the ways to keep the brain engaged. I think it is best to complete puzzles of all sizes with a varying number of pieces from 100 to 5,000; for, each puzzle presents a new challenge that you can work toward completing. Puzzles contribute toward critical thinking and keeping the brain up to speed on problem solving skills. With each puzzle, the brain is being constantly challenged, so there is never a time when the brain is bored. I would say puzzles can even be frustrating – but that pushes the brain to think and work harder.
As someone who enjoys crafting in her free time, I think crafts provide the space for your brain to interact with the world simply through the joys of touching and feeling what you are creating. Crafting, while a hobby, is also a passion which makes the brain happy. There are endless possibilities for crafts, ranging from furniture flipping to knitting to gardening to sewing; for, each craft relies on new skills and continual development of those skills. You can be creative and apply some handy work to create crafts that bring out your passions.
Cooking or Baking
The brain benefits greatly from cooking or baking, even if you do not perform them every day. The process of cooking or baking involves countless skills and abilities, like reading instructions, being creative, and learning new recipes and flavors, so the brain is always active. Cooking and baking also rely on sensory details like sight, taste, and smell, which improves cognitive functions and facilitates engagement between the brain and the body.
Socializing helps renew the brain, keeping it energized through the interaction with people and the organizations you assist. Tasks vary depending on an organization’s needs, but with each task comes a continual renewal of information and engagement with staff and other volunteers. Working with others strengthens the brain’s thirst for communication and increases your people skills while performing new and different tasks.
I also like to keep my mind engaged with interactive mobile applications and online resources specifically designed to strengthen the use of your brain. If you are competitive, then try out some of the apps where you compete against your friends or a public online community. Keep in mind that while most apps and resources are free, there are some that require a trial, membership, or small fee of some sort. These apps and resources can include:
Online Computer Games (i.e. Solitaire, Minesweep, Tetris)
Word Games and Letter Scrambles (i.e. Scrabble, Boggle)
Mobile Applications (i.e. Brick Breaker, 2048, Sudoku, Trivia 360, Words With Friends)
Websites and Online Communities for Brain Training Resources (i.e. MindGames.com; MindGamer.com; FitBrains; Lumiosity; Braingle)
Sara Kim graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a double minor in Health Policy and Management and Asian American Studies from Ithaca College. She currently works as an Event Coordinator at a non-profit. In her free time, she enjoys working out, reading, watching movies, and cooking. Fun fact: as a foodie, she loves to try new foods and travel to new places.