Isolation: it can be different for everyone. For some people, the thought of being cooped up at home away from society sounds like a dream come true. But for others, it can be a nightmare. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, isolation doesn’t have to mean boredom. Here are a few quarantine-approved ways that you can stay busy while building your brain.
Solve a Puzzle
You may find it surprising to learn how many positive benefits there are when it comes to doing jigsaw puzzles, even as an adult. It’s both a great stress reliever and an easy, affordable way to pass the time. You’ll be so focused on completing the picture in front of you that you won’t even realize the time slipping away. But did you know that your brain and puzzles actually go hand-in-hand? Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter of the brain that play a role in mood, memory, and focus. The satisfaction of fitting the pieces together, and ultimately completing the puzzle entirely, triggers rewards centers in our brain that help us feel “good.” By doing what you can to maintain a healthy level of dopamine, you’ll find yourself warding off the isolation-jitters in no time.
Watch a Documentary
If you find yourself gravitating towards your usual guilty-pleasure soaps or trusty comedic sitcoms, it may be time to break the mold and watch a documentary instead. Documentaries are a great way to pass the time by expanding your knowledge while in isolation. Consider subscribing to an inexpensive documentary service that offers a free trial. Get in there and explore! There’s truly no better time than the present to learn interesting new things. Now’s your chance to safely explore other cultures, history, animals, and other aspects of the world, right from the comfort of your couch!
Join a Group
Missing your social life? Consider taking it online! Joining an online group of like-minded people with similar interests can help you fill that socializing gap. Using social media to track down an online science group can be a fun way to share ideas in a group setting, while still being smart when it comes to social distancing.
Take a Class
Many institutions offer free versions of online courses. Ivy League schools and other universities teach classes like math, computer science, and courses on world religions. Some camera companies are offering free, online photography lessons. There are even some courses available that give you completion certifications once you finish the course. You can rest easy knowing that your time has been spent wisely. Not only are you expanding your knowledge, but you’re enjoying the benefits of college without the debt while improving both your resume and your brain!
Reading is probably one of the best-known activities when it comes to improving our brains, and yet most of us don’t feel as though we do it enough. Regular reading has been shown to help with things like memory, concentration, new vocabulary, and even stress. The list of possibilities for where reading can take you are endless, and it doesn’t have to end just because you can’t get to the bookstore in person. Download e-reader programs so you can read right from your phone or shop sales online and get them shipped right to your door. Get imaginatively lost in a magical world with fiction, learn something new with a how-to manual, or make it a goal to inspire yourself to improve with a self-help guide. You could even try to make it a goal to read a chapter of a book every night before you go to bed, or even in the morning before you check your phone.
Learn a New Language
It may be harder to learn a new language as an adult than it is for children. But the keyword here is harder, not impossible. Use the opportunity of time that isolation is giving you and take a swing at a new language. There are tons of apps that teach you from the ground up. Some even make it feel like you’re just playing a game. Others have built-in sections where it corrects and coaches you on your pronunciation. Learning a new language can be a fun new challenge when it comes to keeping your brain sharp.
Work it Out
The list of benefits to exercise is endless. It plays a hugely important role when it comes to your cognitive health. For starters, it is a tried-and-tested mood booster. It’s long been shown to help us deal with things that many of us may face in isolation. Things like depression, anxiety, and an overall negative mood. It’s also been shown to improve brain function, too. By upping our body’s cardio work, we’re increasing both our heart rate and our breathing, which leads to better circulation of blood and nutrients to the brain. And while you may not have a full gym in your home, there are free workout videos available online, and phone apps complete with plans and routines to help you get started. By making the most of the resources available to you, you’ll be able to come up with plenty of ways to sneak in a quick workout at home.
Learn a New Skill
The good news is, you’re never going to run out of new things to learn throughout your life, let alone isolation. A new style of playing cards. Creative writing. Karate. Typing. Juggling. The list could go on and on forever. Why not make the most of your new-found free time and master a new skill? Once you think you’ve got the hang of it, teach it to a friend or family member through web conferencing. Not only will you be sharing the benefits of learning with someone else, but teaching has been shown to help improve retention. Looking at isolation as an opportunity to learn new tasks or simply improve the skill set you already have is a step in the right direction in terms of boosting brainpower.