Knowing how to work out your brain initially involves knowing what aspects you would want to “strengthen”. Much in the same way as one should plan their physical workouts, setting a plan to develop yourself mentally requires strategy. There is a need to identify what you want to work on and what you have to work on before you actually start working out.
Now that we’ve started talking about how a mental workout is, in some ways, similar to a physical workout, although there are several overlapping aspects of these 2 activities, people should definitely keep in mind that the general goals that you are aiming for when you start planning a workout at the gym would also have a significant divergence from your mental workout goals and plans.
When prepping your mind for a mental workout, you’re already working it out. Our heads work differently from our muscles since, first and foremost, your brain is not a muscle that develops through consistent practice. Your brain is generally made up of a completely different set of tissues.
Here are some of the useful tips by Armando Montelongo.
Developing Reading Comprehension
What else should you do to improve your reading comprehension, except to actually read?
Ever wonder why the book nerds are always depicted as the smarter guys in the class? It’s because all their reading has definitely developed the parts of their brains that are able to receive information and then make something out of it. However, this is also developed greatly when you talk to people, watch a movie, or listen to a song, since these activities all involve the use of sensory organs to take in information. However, reading is one of those activities that require the utmost focus. Whether you’re studying or reading a novel, you are taking all those words on that printed sheet, and stringing them up together to form ideas, images, and even whole scenarios. So, am I telling you to go and read all the books you can get your hands on? Definitely not. Reading may be a good way to exercise your brain, but there’s one thing you have to remember:
Do something new.
Why? Performing new activities and learning new things is a great way to stimulate your mind. It gets you to start thinking in ways that you didn’t need to before. It is also one way to prevent that feeling of complacency in your life. When everything starts to feel like too much of a routine, your brain begins to become dormant. It is not stimulated because it has not been presented with anything challenging or exciting. Just as you would want something to spark up your life, your mind also needs that feeling as well. However, don’t rush into an activity that you have no idea about. Imagine going into a gym for the first time and then trying out those 2-ton weights – you’ll only end up hurting yourself.
When approaching a new activity, take baby steps and get those gears working bit by bit as you start to understand and actually learn whatever it is you’re starting to learn. When you jump into a new Spanish Class and start at an advanced level, don’t confuse that headache as a sign that your workout is working. My gym instructor always told me that if I don’t feel my muscles getting sore the next day, then that wasn’t a good workout. This does not apply to your mind. If you are getting headaches from your mental workouts, maybe its because you are pushing yourself too much or maybe you forgot another important thing:
Get Enough Sleep
And along with this piece of advice is getting the right food in you as well.
What? Do I need to diet?
I know how frustrating it might be to learn that not only do you have to watch what you eat when you want to improve your physical health, you also have to take your nutritional intake into consideration if you want to improve your mental skills. While there are several lists that would go on about different types of brain-building meals, what you should and shouldn’t be eating, I’ll leave you to set up your own meal plan. All I do have to say is that skipping meals or spending long nights binge-watching a new series would definitely not be healthy for your mind. And how do you expect to work out your brain when it is tired and under-nourished?
So, how do I work out my brain?
Do I just need to eat right, sleep right, and read more?
While that is definitely a step toward the right direction, this article would not be complete without that list of mental exercises that most of you are probably expecting. A good thing to note is that with mental exercises, there is no actual need to go to a gym and spend an hour or two to work out. There is a wide range of things that you can simply incorporate into your day to day activities.
Righties, use your Left.
And Lefties, use your right. When you wake up and brush your teeth, which I definitely hope you do, try using your nondominant hand to guide the brush. While this may be hard at first, with a bit of practice, you’ll start getting the “hand” of it. You can do this with other activities as well. You’ll notice that when you swap hands, you tend to become more focused when doing a specific activity.
Do you always sit on one side of the table? Take the same route to work every day? Or, generally, just have a 24/7 routine? The importance of doing something new to stimulate your brain does not only mean doing a whole new activity but would also include changing your usual routines. While it may not be a whole new activity for you, doing something differently is a way to trick your head into thinking its never done something before. Simply by sitting in a new spot at your usual dinner table would get your brain to think about how the view is different.
Do the Math
Here’s where I start to talk about how technology has helped our race immensely but has, in certain ways, started to dumb the population down, especially when it comes to doing the math. Instead of pulling out your phone, because who carries an actual calculator around? And letting the device add up how much each person in your dinner party should pay, try to do the division yourself. You could also keep track of your weekly grocery budget by mentally adding the price of an item to your overall expense and see how close you are to the total amount when you actually get to the cashier.
Here’s a kicker. Not only do you have to eat right and sleep right, but you also have to get moving. Whether you decide to run, walk, or do yoga, exercising your body is one way to release those feel-good hormones that everyone keeps saying is good for the brain. Don’t go and register at the local gym yet. There are several methods of exercise that you can do that won’t require sports equipment or a trainer. Your daily exercise can be your walk to work or a set of home workouts you do in the morning. The main goal here is just to keep your body active to get your mind to be active as well.