Our minds are constantly working. Whether we are consciously thinking about something, trying to solve a problem, figuring out a task or simply observing a situation, the mind is always on. Even while we are sleeping it keeps working. Though we don’t entirely understand why humans sleep at all we know that our mind (think of the brain as our hardware and the mind as its software) uses the time, while we zone out, to process what happened during the day, stabilize memory and solve problems. Have you ever woken up with the perfect solution of – or an entire new perspective on – a problem you were working on during the day? That is why it often turns out to be rather productive to simply “sleep on it”. And even after we die, the brain is active for about ten more minutes when the body has already died.

What is on your mind?

Having an active mind and constantly challenging that mind is crucial to keep it functioning. New brain cells are being built and fresh connections are being formed when the mind is challenged with new activities or complex tasks. Thereby, the brain manages to build up a certain “reserve” in case brain cells are damaged or die off. These challenges might occur naturally in everyday situations in your private or professional life, or they are artificially generated using mind games, riddles, crosswords, sudokus or puzzles.

Train the brain
It doesn’t actually matter what you do, as long as it is something new, it is beneficial for your brain and therefor for your mind. Trying out a new sport, taking a new class or learning a new language all increase mental activity and brain function. Mind games challenge and stimulate the different skills form strategic problem solving to creativity, logic thinking and memory. Training your mind and keeping it busy and flexible is crucial to decrease the risks of cognitive decline and dementia in later life. Feed your brain and make it exercise as often and as regularly as you can to maintain your brain cells communicating with each other. Working out is also an important factor for your mental fitness. Physical exercise does not only have positive effects on memory, concentration and creativity, it also functions as a mood booster.

Move your mental muscles
No matter which mental exercise suits you most, it is important to include some of these challenges for the mind into our daily lives. Though there are numerous apps as well as websites that offer great activities for training the mind, there are also very easy “offline” challenges that can make big differences to your minds flexibility, when implemented into your routines.

Here are some super-easy ways to provide simple challenges for your mind, while going on with your day:

  • Perform some tasks with the hand you don’t usually use. E.g.: Brushing you teeth using your „weaker“ hand.
  • Try to find alternative routes to your work or a store.
  • Do things upside down. E.g.: Wear your watch the other side around to challenge your mind every time you check the time.
  • Perform little tasks with your eyes closed. E.g.: Close your eyes while eating your food.
  • Meditate and try to perform smaller tasks as mindful as possible. E.g.: Only concentrate on the task, while washing the dishes.

So do your mind a favor and try new things!