These 12 science-based mental exercises can help you activate and develop the brain, improve memory, and boost concentration and focus.
Mental exercises are just as necessary as physical exercises, especially to maintain a state of overall health, “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body”.
I barely reached fifty years of age and I started to realize that my short-term memory is a little bit failing. Sometimes I forget where I left something, or I don’t remember something I was just told.
I already knew that studying another language helps the mind to work better, but besides that, what other mental exercises can I do?
The Usefulness Of Mental Exercises
The mental exercises serve to improve concentration, focus, and memory. They help you get out of the same routine of doing things with the same system or mechanics. Mental exercises force the brain to function differently so that all the neurons work.
The routines slow down the brain’s activity.
The problem with routines is that they can be difficult to acquire at first, like everything you want to master.
But once they’re mastered, they become an activity that actually does the subconscious with very little energy. It’s like driving a car on the usual route or putting a piece of the engine together on a production line.
These acquired routines help you perform your activity well, but they stimulate your brain very little, as your mind gets used to not having to work harder.
All this is solved with mental exercises.
Among a large number of articles and specialized blogs, I found many mental exercises to speed up memory and improve concentration.
Here I propose my personal selection of mental exercises and the exact products like GenBrain that you can use on a daily basis for better focus and brain enhancement.
The Best Mental Exercises
Here are 12 mental exercises to achieve mental clarity and improve the functioning of your brain:
1. Change Hands
If you are right-handed, use the left hand, or vice versa.
Switch hands to perform seemingly simple activities such as brushing your teeth, eating, using the computer mouse, typing chat on your cell phone screen.
Using your non-dominant hand gives you positive results in increasing your brain activity. This can be very difficult at first, and it’s an excellent exercise for your brain as well.
2. Do Chores Blindfold
Do some activities and household chores with your eyes closed.
When you take a shower, when you wash your hair, or when you take your clothes to the washing machine, try to do it with your eyes closed.
This exercise forces your brain to look for new neural pathways and therefore activates them.
Of course, don’t do anything with your eyes closed that puts you or others in danger, like washing knives or using cutting tools.
3. Do Morning Exercises
Start every morning with a physical exercise routine.
This is one of the most recommended activities to turn on all the neural activity.
You don’t have to travel half an hour to a gym, and a 20-minute warm-up routine at home is enough to jump-start your bloodstream.
Physical exercise will cause oxygen to flow to your brain, so you have the necessary concentration for the rest of the day.
4. Count Words
Take a book, magazine, or newspaper and count the number of words in a paragraph. Count them again to check that you haven’t made a mistake.
Start with one paragraph, and as you get used to it, go on to count the number of words in two paragraphs.
Then, count the words on the entire page. Be sure to do the count mentally with your eyes only, without pointing to each word.
This is one of the simplest mental exercises to improve your concentration.
5. Read Out Loud
Take turns reading and listening to a book with your partner, a friend, or a child. If it is not possible to do this exercise with another person, alternate reading by listening to an audiobook.
This is one of the mental exercises that emerged from a scientific study, which clearly demonstrated images of neuronal activity in the three different regions of the brain that were illuminated while reading, speaking or listening to the same word.
This is one of the mental exercises that involve the imagination in a different way and reinforces the memory.
6. Count Down
Start by mentally counting backward from 100 to 1, and do it several times. There will come a time when you will do it very quickly.
Then try again, but by skipping three numbers. For example 100, 97, 94, 91, 88, 85, … and do it several times, until you master it.
Then you can put on similar and different challenges.
7. Take New And Different Routes
On any routine trip, for example to your job, or to your parents’ house on the weekend, your brain is on automatic pilot and receives very little stimulation.
Taking a new route activates the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus.
It is not strictly necessary to drive a car, you can change your route when you walk, when you bike, and even when you travel by public transport.
8. Concentrate On Several Sounds, But Not At Once
In our routine life, we are exposed to many environmental sounds.
First try to focus on a specific sound, like a voice. Then switch to another sound, maybe a bird sound. Change again, it may be the sound of traffic on the street.
Keep changing sounds, but faster and faster, every minute.
This exercise can also be done visually, by focusing on the person or thing that generates the sound and then refocusing on another.
Make sure that when you refocus on a particular sound you do not think or hear anything else.
9. Try To Practice Or Do New Things
Do things you have never done before, such as:
- Travel somewhere you’ve never been before.
- Try a new style of cooking for yourself.
- Try a new hobby, one that has nothing to do with your personal character.
- If you think you move like a wall, sign up for a dance course. If you are the tough, athletic type, try making lace and needlework.
New experiences trigger the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter of motivation. This hormone also stimulates the creation of new neurons.
10. Draw And Color
Drawing and coloring are excellent activities to keep the brain relaxed and stimulate creativity.
These mental exercises also improve concentration levels, as they require full attention while performing them.
Colouring is an activity that improves an individual’s powers of concentration and keeps the mind occupied on the only activity that is being done by hand.
Children and adults benefit greatly from creative activities such as drawing, painting, and coloring because they require a lot of concentration on their part.
11. Avoid Technology
Do some things the old-fashioned way, avoiding the use of technology to replace your brain.
Use your brain instead of your Smartphone to do the math, for example.
Avoid using GPS, and instead use a map to get your bearings; this is also one of the simplest mental exercises to stimulate creativity.
Try to learn the phone numbers of as many people as you can. Every time you think of someone try to remember their phone number and practice it.
12. Set New Challenges
Set yourself new challenges and try to overcome them every time.
Whenever you learn something new, it stimulates all your brain activity. But, as soon as you master that new activity, the mental benefits stop, because your brain has become more efficient and masters that activity.
The only way to continue to stimulate your brain is to give it new challenges and keep it out of its comfort zone.
Then, once you master some activity or craft, seek to challenge yourself with the next level of difficulty, or learn a related skill.
Tips To Memorize Faster
And here are some tips to learn and memorize faster:
1. Learn Individual Parts
The skills are easier to study and learn as individual parts. For this reason, it is useful to divide the knowledge into different units, to be able to reproduce them one by one until they are mastered.
Over time, the accumulation of these smaller skills will add up to the learning of the larger skill.
For example, to learn photography, it is best to get to know the functioning of the different components, such as the shutter or the lens, one by one.
Little by little this knowledge will be added and it will allow learning the higher skill faster.
2. Concentrate On One Thing Only
If you want to learn faster, it’s best to use all five senses and not be distracted by other things.
Multitasking doesn’t work when you want to store new information, so you can’t be on several topics at once.
Also, every time you get distracted you need about 25 minutes to refocus.
3. Write Down What You Learn
Put aside the keyboard, take a pencil and paper and write down the new knowledge you are acquiring.
I’m sure you’ve heard that handwriting helps us consolidate what we learn, and it’s a statement backed up by science.
According to scientists, tracing letters on paper is a stronger cognitive link than typing.
A 2014 study found that students who took notes by hand remembered facts better, classified complex ideas better, and synthesized information better. Thus, writing is another scientific trick to learn faster.
4. Mistakes Help Improve
There is nothing more natural than making mistakes, and mistakes help us to better internalize what we have done wrong.
A study of motor learning reveals that the brain reserves a space for mistakes, which allows us to recover these memories to improve in future attempts.
Therefore, it is important to see the mistakes in a positive way, analyze them and discover how to correct them.
5. Practice As Much As You Can
The more you practice, the more you learn. According to science, when our brain has to perform a task over and over again, the paths are constantly being carved out until they are forever.
6. Teach Other People
An interesting trick to consolidate skills is to teach others. When you use the concepts you have learned and you describe them in your own words, you are not only mastering the idea but also deepening your knowledge of it.
7. Be Optimistic
Being positive and confident in your abilities is another piece of advice to study better, learn faster, and succeed.
Negative thoughts produce anxiety, and this feeling prevents you from exploring solutions to solve problems.
For this reason, if you face new tasks with optimism, you have a better chance of achieving your goal.
Try to implement these memorizing tips and mental exercises in your life to witness how all your brain-related functions improve and evolve.