As we age, our mental health deteriorates and we become less sharp. But just because your memory is fading and your problem-solving skills have weakened throughout the years doesn’t mean you can’t turn it around and improve your mental health today. All our brains need are some good teasers and training to come back to life. Here are eight exercises to improve your mental health.
Daily exercise and physical activity prevents disease and makes you stronger, but it also improves your mental health. Ever heard of a little thing called endorphins? These feel-good chemicals are released during exercise and other activities and have been known to increase feelings of euphoria, happiness, and well-being. In addition to the endorphin increase, exercise also reduces stress and anxiety, the common culprits of depression and other debilitating mental disorders. It doesn’t matter if you walk, bike, swim, or weight-lift; all types of exercise are good for the body and mind.
The act of sitting still, closing your eyes, and clearing your thoughts can do wonders for your mind and body. Meditation means something different to everyone, and the benefits of regular meditation range from increased self-awareness and heightened spiritual connection to improved mood. Meditation exercises can significantly improve your mental health by allowing you to let go of negative thoughts and feelings and reach a higher consciousness. You’ll likely feel relaxed and rejuvenated after meditating and be ready to take on the day or end the day with a clear, healthy mindset.
One of the best ways to improve your mental health and increase your brain power is to memorize bits of information and recite them. Whether you memorize a grocery list, a phone number, or a joke, memorization is a valuable tool and beneficial exercise for the brain. Remember, it’s just as important to test your long-term memory as it is to test your short-term memory. An easy way to do this is to talk to an old friend or family member and try to recall specific names, dates, and events that require you to tap into your stored memories.
Learn something new:
A great way to exercise your brain and improve your mental health is to learn something new like speaking a foreign language, playing an instrument, or mastering a recipe. When you learn a new skill, you encounter different challenges that force you to step out of your comfort zone, make mistakes, and reach new goals. Once you’ve mastered a new skill, you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of fulfillment and self-satisfaction, both of which are excellent mental health boosts.
Whether it’s math problems or scheduling issues, problem-solving is an incredibly important skill we use every day. There are many techniques and skills involved in problem-solving, and those who regularly exercise this area of the brain may improve their overall mental health. Don’t shy away from problems; try to solve them on your own. Although the process of solving a problem can be frustrating, you’ll feel proud and empowered when you find a resolution.
Test your concentration:
No matter your age, you can always work on improving your attention and concentration. You can do so by exercising your brain with games and teasers that stimulate your concentration skills and help you retain more information. Improving your concentration skills can help you in a job and other tasks that require you to pay close attention and memorize important information.
Do puzzles and games:
Puzzles and games challenge your brain in so many positive ways and can greatly increase your overall mental health. Working on puzzles and games will require you to use critical thinking, problem solving, and reasoning skills. These exercises stimulate your mind, improve your concentration, and enhance your vocabulary and math skills. Not to mention, working on jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles yourself can be a very relaxing and rewarding activity.
Read and write often:
There are many mental health benefits of reading and writing that go way beyond relaxation and entertainment. Reading and writing stimulate the brain, spark imagination, and increase creativity. Regular reading and writing can increase your comprehension skills, vocabulary, grammar, and memory. Not to mention, both exercises can be very therapeutic for the mind. Writing can also help you address negative thoughts and bad memories that affect your overall mental health.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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