We eat well and work out on regular basis to keep our body healthy. We make sure that our immune system stays at the best of its form at all times. We do everything in our power to keep our body tidy and clean. But, do we care about our mental health as much? The brain keeps doing its job all its life, and we do not pay any heed to it until it gets sick.
Our brain tends to shrink with age. It begins to lose neurons, and like our body, our brain also gets old. This can lead to a feeling of mental dullness, and even major problems like dementia. The good news is, you can save the brain from these issues. Just because you are ageing, it doesn’t mean your brain also has to age. You cannot stop the process altogether, but you can keep practising a few exercises to keep your brain sharp. And if someday you feel that your brain needs a check-up (today, or in future), don’t shy away from booking a doctor’s appointment.
Going to a doctor with Piles and other such diseases doesn’t bother us. But, at the same time, visiting a doctor with a mental problem seems like a thing of embarrassment for us. Is it even fair? Why are we ashamed of our brain’s illness when it also just another organ in our body, like the heart and lungs? It is high time that we prioritise our mental health as much as our physical fitness.
With COVID on our heads, we all care about how sick our body gets. We notice the fever, the body ache and breathlessness. But, we forget that stress, anxiety and mental impairment are also on the list of symptoms that come with the disease. Once you begin stressing out about COVID and its consequences, you will ultimately make your brain believe that you cannot be saved if you catch the disease. Ultimately, this misconception that your brain believes in ends up making you sicker.
Also, staying quarantined for months together gives you episodes of stress and anxiety. So, it is all the more important today that you take care of your brain as much as you take care of your body. You could try some mental games. These would keep your mind occupied, and also provide them with a workout session.
Below are 5 fun games to keep your brain healthy. Try them all out.
- The Colour Game
The Colour Game is a popular game among kids who are acquainted with words. You write out the name of colours in a sequence but the name mustn’t match the actual colour. People have to respond to the colours and not the name, and read the list aloud. For example,
RED BLUE YELLOW GREEN BLACK
Read out the colours, and do not respond to the names. Once you are done, track the time you took to complete it. Next time, make an even complicated set. You will find it difficult. That is the game. Our brain reacts to the words first and then to colours as we are habitual readers. Little kids, who haven’t read as much might respond to the colours first. Using this paradigm one can assess one’s cognitive processing speed and cognitive control. The game is based on ‘The Stroop Effect’, which helps medical professionals worldwide to diagnose patients with neurodevelopmental disorders. The game also functions as a brain trainer for them.
In your day-to-day life, you can have a certain time dedicated to playing the colour game and giving a little push to your brain. It is fun, and also really beneficial for your mental health.
- Click Speed Tests
The web is filled with websites that allow you to test your clicking speed. For example, Clicks Test gives you an option to choose your desired test time and then click on the given area as many times as you want. These tests help in accessing one’s hand-eye-brain coordination. These kinds of games not only provide you with a competitive spirit but also train your brain to react to real-life situations faster. With age, your reflexes begin to lose their speed. These clicking games can help you retain your hand’s motor actions.
- Non-dominant Hand Day
Like the previous game, the Non-dormant Hand Game also works with your hand-brain coordination skills. We all have this habit of performing all our essential actions like eating, writing, brushing, etc. with our dormant hand. Working with the non-dormant hand for a day, on the other hand, provides a great challenge to your brain and keeps it active. For one day in a week, begin shifting all your dormant hand actions to the non-dormant hand. If you write with the right hand, do it with the left one for one day. You will find it difficult initially, but soon you will notice that things are getting easier. This way your brain successfully makes a new connection!
- Create a Story
Researches have shown that practising creative activity is linked to better mental health. What would be better than having a group story framing session? The rules are simple. Take a sheet of paper and begin with writing a sentence. Then you have to pass the sheet to the person sitting next to you, and they add another sentence to it. The paper keeps moving in your circle for thirty minutes. At the end of the given time, you have to read the story aloud. You might end up getting an amazing story at the end. Just make sure that you write a line that is built on the line before that.
The Creative Research Journal suggests that the “brain’s ability to integrate and process problems and alternative solutions faster if its creative side is more highly developed”. With this game, you are training your mind to ‘think’, ‘process’ and give an innovative output every time. What a great way to turn a lazy afternoon into a fun one, isn’t it?
- Counting Backwards
Another great way to challenge your brain is to count numbers in a backward manner. Pick a number (say, 200) and start counting backwards. It would take a longer time for you to count the numbers backwards because our brains have been trained since childhood to count them forwards. Breaking this pattern would agitate the comfort of the brain and make it work for getting the numbers right. You can add more complicated rules to it, like skipping one number in between while counting backwards. Either way, it gives great exercise to your brain.
A quick tip: Counting back can help you cope with pain and anxiety in a better way. It can lower one’s perceived intensity of pain by 50%.
As we begin to grow old, our brain begins to incline towards a certain comfort zone. Even if not that, in situations like today, when life has become uncertain and stress has been hitting us all hard, keeping our brain stable has become all the more important. If we don’t keep our brains working, chances are that we may end up with a decreased memory and cognitive functions. Fortunately, it is still possible for us to take the right steps in our ‘present’ so that our ‘future’ is not as difficult. Keep strengthening your brain, keep training it to be active, and make it healthier than ever!