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Exercise Your Brain with these 6 Creative Tasks

Exercise Your Brain with these 6 Creative Tasks
Margaret Manning

I saw a poster once that said “don’t fear getting older, fear getting boring”. One of our biggest fears as we age is that we will lose our ability to think in new and creative ways and lose our mental sharpness. The good news is that, contrary to popular belief, it is not a given that your brain degenerates as you age. There is plenty that you can do to exercise your brain and keep it healthy. In a previous article, we discussed six lifestyle choices that you can make to keep your brain healthy. Now, we would like to focus on some creative tasks that can also help to exercise your brain.

Play Games

Playing games gives us a tremendous opportunity to ensure our brain stays healthy. Why not try online games, on your computer, smartphone or even consoles like the Nintendo Wii or Xbox. For example, Lumosity.com offers many games designed specifically to help you keep your brain in shape. Or perhaps try tackling mental mazes and puzzles, or something more traditional like bridge, chess, Sudoku or crosswords? When you count, make lists, think hard and solve problems, neural networks are forged in your brain. These networks replace old and worn-out brain matter. If you stay in the habit of keeping mentally active, chances are you’ll live longer and revive your creative spirit!

Build a Rich Social Life

Doing fun and creative things with family and friends is more important than you realize. Challenge each other, talk about challenging topics, take mini trips, go on adventures together and push the conversations to stimulate new ideas. Watch movies together and discuss the themes, question things and learn new things together! If you spend a lot of time on your own, your mind slowly begins to become less responsive because it gets used to having less stimuli. So write a letter, get on the phone, and interact with other people often. It keeps you thinking and keeps you on your mental toes!

Get Creative with Art Projects

Take time to try new things. Pursue crafts and hobbies you never quite made the time to learn when your kids were young or when you were working on your career. Many women over sixty take up painting and drawing and discover they actually have a lot to say with their art. No one is judging whether it’s good or bad so you can just let yourself sink into your creative self. You can start scrapbooking for your kids and grandkids. Knit socks for everyone. Hook rugs. All of these activities take effort, skill, patience, cognitive awareness and forethought. Your brain responds happily to these stimuli, becoming stronger and more resilient.

Do Things Differently

Thinking differently is a great way to exercise your brain and enhance its abilities. How about attempting to do simple tasks like brushing your teeth or washing the kitchen counters with your non-dominant hand? Or, take an unusual route to the grocery store. For something more exciting, plan a spontaneous daytrip or train journey with a friend. Go somewhere you’ve never been before, even if it’s just to stop at a museum or cafe and try a new type of tea. These challenges are excellent ways to keep your brain alive. The more it is called upon to respond, the stronger it becomes.

Try Learning a Musical Instrument

You may not be looking to become a professional violinist at this stage in your life (although you totally could!). But that should not stop you from picking up an instrument. There’s no time like the present to start taking those piano lessons you always wanted to take. For one thing, music is excellent brain exercise. And another benefit is that it boosts your mood and regulates your emotions. You’ll find yourself keeping your youthful sharpness while learning a new and fun skill!

Write Your Memoirs

You’ve had a lifetime of adventure and experience. You’ve lived through some of the most amazing times in the history of the world. Perhaps it’s time to start recording your own personal history. Tell your story, make connections and perhaps close some doors. Share with your family, they will love to hear your experiences – they are likely in many of them! Open new doors and build on what you have learned. Memoirs are for you to build on, not dwell on. The challenge is great for keeping your brain healthy and stretching your mind as you recall the wonderful times you’ve had during your life!

What do you do to exercise your brain? Is there a time of day when you feel more sluggish and just need to relax? How do you get over a slump? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Bonus

Find our more simple rules for better brain health in my interview with Brain Rules author John Medina.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a doctor before doing anything described in this article. Read our full disclaimer at www.sixtyandme.com/disclaimer.

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Comments

  1. Edna Chambers

    Learn a new language. WALK and keep active, if you can.

  2. Ampusam Symonette

    I am in the sixty plus group, recently took an early retirement from an active Health career and have spent the great youthful part of my life in a very fulfilling career. Have just over a year plus completed my Ph D.The first month I was home I repainted the kitchen and I gave my furniture a new look sand papered and revarnished them giving it a brand new uplift.
    Learnt to make bread which was also different and jammed my surplus fruits and made salad dressing with Carambola (Star fruit) which were blown down by Sandy.Played scrabbles which I did not have time to do before.Teach my grandchildren my mother tongue so they can communicate with their great grandmother. Looking into revamping my artistic skills by painting miniture pieces of stillife. Visiting friends started walking three times a week; doing Bible study once a week and voice training once a week and tutoring my grandson after school. Baby sitting and mending my clothes.Have started embroidering as well made a smocking dress for my granddaughter.
    Now that I have recorded I think I am leading a full life.I communicate with my family via FB and emails and telephone give valuable advice to my young Fb friends and family.As a seasoned person of substance have much mentoring to do.

  3. Tai chi

  4. Russian song

  5. For going on three years I’ve been learning the fine art of fused glass and stained glass.

  6. At 59 I was given a Banjo which I love to play….always wanted to learn Guitar but never had the time so a year later I got a guitar and enjoy that too but I don’t play them at the same time…..not that talented !

  7. … I read a lot… stay in touch and getting together with friends… take lecture series on various subjects… and I paint…

  8. I write a lot of letters and keep a journal. Love murder mysteries. :)

  9. My lament is: Could you possible be more interesting?

  10. The best way to exercise your brain is to keep working. Technology changes the workplace daily!

  11. I spent whatever time I had talking to a wonderful ninety year old woman. Her stories enthralled me. I found out things that her close family didn’t know. She said they weren’t all that interested in listening to ‘old people’s tales. Then, sadly, she died. She was an interesting, amazing, wise woman who might have died taking her stories with her. Old people just need an audience and that is not always easy to come by. Having said that, an old boring person was a young boring person.

  12. Sudoku.

  13. i am going to try something new

  14. Years ago at school when hours were spent copying from the blackboard. To alleviate the boredom I used to write with my non dominant hand. It is a skill I still have.
    The weird one is to listen on the phone with your non dominant ear. That takes practice as well.
    Have you noticed that as babies we are taught to spoonfeed ourselves with our right hand only to have to swap to the left when using a fork….!!

  15. The best challenge for my brain is my job as a translator!!

  16. I like crossword puzzles or codewords.

  17. Pilates and living in a country where I use a second language daily.

  18. Sudoku, code words, crosswords, volunteering at the tourist information centre and living and walking in beautiful Cornwall.

  19. travel. trying new things

  20. … exercise and reading…

  21. I read, do crossword puzzles, play solitaire, engage in conversation with friends in a different language: Spanish, Dutch, Papiamentu……

  22. I play Words With Friends Scrabble. read and have my own inline business.

  23. X words read news paper try to make some sennse out of this world

  24. I have so many hobbies. I just don’t have time to do them all !

  25. Try to read everything in the newspaper – politics/columnists/sports etc…

  26. Scrabble, reading in many languages, socializing, writing,