July 15, 2021

Our brains are just as susceptible to getting sluggish in winter as our bodies. And even though technically our brain isn’t a muscle, you can train and maintain it like it is. That way you will feel better and have the mental energy you need to get through your day.

So here are a few ways you can keep your brain active and in top shape.

Try some mental gymnastics

There are certain activities that stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells. Many of them are fun and there are some you can do alone and others you can do with friends or family. Board games, card games, and problem-solving exercises are good for a group or if you before to fly solo, invest some time in word puzzles, like crosswords, or math exercises such as sudoku or code crackers. You can find these online or in books and magazines.

Eat well

Healthy, nutritious food is just as important for your brain as it is your body. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress, which can damage cells. Avoid processed or refined foods which can be harmful for your brain. Te Atatu Toasted mueslis are made with wholefood ingredients that release energy slowly, and are free of wheat, rice, corn and refined sugars. Find out how you can save up to 25 per cent with a monthly subscription.

Learn something new

Learning new skills stimulates neurons in the brain, which forms more neural pathways. Think about signing up to learn a language or take up dancing or a new musical instrument.
The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain that will be involved in retaining the memory, which will help keep it active.

Take up arts and crafts

Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts. Knitting or crochet is a great winter activity – make yourself a warm beanie or scarf.

Use your non-dominant hand

Using your non-dominant hand increases your creativity, and helps you integrate both hemispheres of your brain. So, if you are right-handed, use your left hand for small tasks during the day, such as brushing your teeth, eating, doing your hair or even writing.

Count backwards
Instead of mindlessly scrolling social media next time you are sitting in a waiting room or queuing at the supermarket, try a counting backwards exercise. Start at 200 and subtract three until you reach 100. Change the rules to mix it up and keep your brain active.

Get more exercise and sleep

Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to your brain. People who are in good physical shape also tend to enjoy a higher level of mental agility. Good quality sleep is important too – it improves learning, memory, and insight. Sleep actually embeds the things that we have learned and experienced over the course of the day into our short-term memory. It links these new memories to older ones, helping you make connections between different pieces of information to come up with new ideas.

Be a social butterfly

It’s tempting to curl up on the couch with a good book in winter, and that’s not all bad because reading helps keep your brain active. But so does social interaction – social connection can help to improve memory recall, increases cognitive function and protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases. So maintain your old friendships and make some new ones to improve your brain health.