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Most Americans lead very stressful lives. Our 24/7 work culture often leads to burnout, mental health disorders, and even physical health problems. Relaxation practices like yoga and meditation can be very helpful for regulating your mood, but challenging your mind is also important for staying sharp, managing your mental health, and preventing professional burnout.

Physicians diagnose more than 20% of patients over age 50 with mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Adults who are looking for new ways to cope with stressful personal and professional responsibilities can often find some relief by playing brain games.

You don’t have to wait until you get older to boost your brainpower and unwind with puzzles and challenges. It’s never too early to start playing brain games! Here’s why you should give your mind a workout (and have some fun!) on a regular basis, no matter what your age.

Why Brain Exercises Rock!

So what’s the point of doing brain exercises? Well, think about it. We all know that our bodies need regular exercise to stay strong and fit. The brain has similar needs—memory, concentration, and other important brain functions require “exercise” to work properly.

Brain games offer a great escape from our stressful lives and also offer much-needed benefits for our minds. They push us to think differently and to get us out of our comfort zone. The challenge of brain exercises is what’s key: you’ll have to push yourself to think differently to be rewarded when you finally solve the puzzle.

By consistently exercising your brain, you can help keep your memory sharp and make concentration easier. Plus, brain games can be really fun!

Here’s the Fun Part

Most people hate to exercise. The good news about brain games is that they’re actually fun! It doesn’t have to feel like a chore to check your daily “brain workout” off your to-do list—it might be something you actually look forward to.

Not only will brain games help you to stay sharp, but they’ll also help you to experience more joy in your life. We all need activities that are fun but challenging in our lives, regardless of how old we are.

The games you choose to play will reflect your personality and preferences. Not everyone likes the same kinds of games, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you some time to find brain games you actually look forward to playing. The only criteria you should look for is whether or not the game is fun and if it’s challenging enough to offer you those crucial brain-boosting benefits!

Going the Extra Mile

Boosting your brainpower in fun ways will help you de-stress and improve your memory, but you still can’t neglect your body’s need for regular exercise. Physical activity helps to boost mood, increases oxygen flow to your brain, and reduces stress.

A combination of mental and physical exercise is key for people of all ages. Neglecting either one long-term can have consequences for your overall health and well-being.

If you dread the idea of hitting the gym or going for a run, it’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to be something you dislike. Something easy like walking, or a fun sport like tennis or swimming can help you fit exercise into your life and make it sustainable. What’s key is finding something manageable and enjoyable for you.

Setting the Stage for Emotional Health With Work-Life Balance

It helps to take a holistic approach to stress reduction. By working toward work-life balance, you can target the root of stress, rather than the symptoms. You’ll never be able to eliminate stress if you’re working 60+ hours a week and you’re always checking your work email.

If you feel like a healthy balance is out of reach, you’re not alone. Studies show that 66% of surveyed professionals do not feel that they achieve work-life balance. Brain games alone aren’t going to fix the stress of working too much on their own.

Take small steps. Making life changes is easier when they’re gradual. Start by cutting back a few hours a week or delegating some responsibilities. Take that extra time to fit in some brain games and physical activity in. As you start to feel better, it will get easier to balance your time and you’ll feel more focused.

By taking care of your brain and body, you’ll be well on your way to better emotional health and a healthy work-life balance!