How exhausted do you feel at the end of every workweek? Chances are, the answer is “very” — just like most adults in full-time employment.

Studies show employees experience more workplace pressure today than at any time in the past quarter-century. And, as if this weren’t troubling enough, between 20 and 40 percent of employees are “miserable” in their roles, which increases their risk of sleep difficulties, health issues and weakened immune systems.

But one of the biggest dangers of being stressed, overtired and unsatisfied in the workplace is the impact on your cognitive capabilities. Jobs that fail to provide employees with the opportunity to learn new skills and take on fresh challenges could have long-term negative effects on their mental skills. Scary stuff, right?

That’s why it’s so important to keep your mind sharp, focused and stimulated however you can. Here are some simple, effective ways to do this:

Exercise to Boost Brain Function and Combat Depression

Recent research has revealed that regular aerobic exercise can stimulate the growth of the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for learning and verbal memory.

Exercise stimulates growth factors’ release, which enhances the health of brain cells and creates new blood vessels. People who exercise on a regular basis tend to have a stronger prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex (controlling thinking and memory).

Taking up any activities which increase your breathing and heart rate — a brisk walk each afternoon, a bike ride, running on a treadmill — can help keep your mind sharp.

Take Online Practice Tests

When did you last take a test? 

While the prospect of sitting through an exam may inspire feelings of dread, taking practice tests can make a huge difference to your performance. In fact, a study conducted by Ken State University discovered that practice tests, especially those requiring you to recall details from memory rather than consulting a resource, have the potential to help you retain useful information down the line.

Taking a practice test at the end of a long, challenging day offers a chance to exercise your brain more effectively than watching hours of television (which has been shown to reduce cognitive skills) does. 

Online practice tests online, such as the free Wonderlic Practice Test – designed by psychometric experts and based on regularly-updated information – is a quick and simple way to stimulate your mind.

Try MSM Supplements to Stay Sharp

Between 2008 and 2018, the number of adults taking dietary supplements rose from 65 to 75 percent

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) supplements are a popular option among adults looking to:

  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Decrease joint pain.
  • Combat calcification in multiple areas of the body.
  • Improve recovery.

MSM supplements’ ability to decrease inflammation and calcification can keep your brain healthy and enhance some of the other activities on this list. For example, MSM supplements aid your body’s ability to heal after exercise — allowing you to do more of it and, in turn, improve your brain function.

Read Aloud to Improve Memory 

A study conducted by the University of Waterloo found that reading aloud to yourself increases your memory’s power to retain information

“When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable,” said Professor Colin N. MacLeod. 

Reading any documents or key facts you want to memorize — either for a test or an important project — aloud may make them easier to recall. It also makes a refreshing change to simply reading silently, especially if you struggle to absorb information and find yourself scanning the same paragraphs endlessly at the end of a long day. 

Experiment with New Activities 

Finally, trying new things has been shown to improve brain function, too. 

Challenging the mind to process and retain fresh information can create new connections between cells in the brain. So, try activities that stimulate your problem-solving skills (such as puzzles) or creative outlets — painting, playing an instrument or even writing. 

Alternatively, you could experiment with a new sport or form of exercise you’ve never tried before. Each of these, or virtually anything else that interests you, can help keep your mind sharp and unwind after a stressful week. 

The important thing is to continue the learning process: try new things regularly and focus on activities you genuinely enjoy. 

These five tips have the power to stimulate your mind and keep you focused during even the most grueling weeks. Experiment with the ideas discussed above and embrace the positive changes they may bring to your life. A strong mind is worth holding on to. 

Do you have any of your own tips to help keep the mind sharp and healthy? Share below!