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Why Millenials Have to Rethink Their Reading Habits

Why Millenials Have to Rethink Their Reading Habits

I was at a family dinner; a relative was discussing a book he had just read and asked me if I had read it. Before I could answer an annoying sibling answered for me, ‘Oh, she doesn’t read books, only social media’, Stupid, of course, I read books, didn’t I? I then tried to remember the last book I had read and realised I couldn’t.

I knew of The Man Booker Prize list which the current topic of conversation was on, but to discuss any of the books on the shortlist, No. I did do an online search, so I could hold my own in the conversation, but wasn’t that exactly what my annoying sibling was intimating? I decided to look more into it; was I odd or an example of millennials everywhere, I found I fit in nicely with Gen Y.

Apparently, millennials do read, but what we read is mostly dictated by its usefulness, its newsworthiness. We devour social news, current events in the lives of friends and strangers. We like bullet notes and what to do lists, we read to connect with others. What we do not do is read for ourselves, to take time out, to relax. I want to share some of the facts that are making me rethink reading a book.

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1. Books stimulate our brain

Every time we read a book we open new neural pathways, (synapses), this says we are stimulating the brain, keeping it functioning and fresh. Recent research on brain patterns shows our interactions and interpretation of what we read creates a mental simulation in our senses, opening them up for more experiences. 

If we want the ability to change and adapt our fixed neural pathways and keep our brains agile and functioning quickly; we need to read more. Reading books introduces our brains to new stimuli, it adds to our perceptions of others and keeps our leadership and managing skills from stagnating.

2. Reading stops you from multitasking

Millennials tend to run around with an ADD disorder, doing 10 things at once, working, checking emails, checking Facebook, Pinterest and other favourite social media outlets, updating our Linkedin. Reading a book helps destress you, focusing your mind down to first gear rather than running in third all the time, gives you mind and body time to relax, a single focus.

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3. Reading teaches us to actually read

As millennials we respond to infographics, visual content, quick to process, quick to scan. Reading a book involves a different skill, but we can enhance our vocabulary, our focus and concentration and our analytical skills. All of which, I think we would all agree has value in our lives and careers.

Reading skills are something we need to think about as we become parents, what habits will we pass to our children. Will we limit them if we are not seen to read or encourage reading? Now as adults, we have a wide range of access to books, either physically from bookshelves and libraries or digitally via our Ipad’s and ebook readers.

But be aware, for children, a study has indicated that an actual book is better than a screen. It is also said reading from a screen at night disturbs our sleep in a way, a book does not, but for those of you for whom a book is a step too far but want to read, don’t worry, there are things you can do that will allow you to sleep and read.

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There are a seemingly unending list of genres for the would-be reader, as millennials, we are masters at using the digital world for finding what we want, use to this knowledge to find books that suit you.

·         Use sites such as Amazon and Goodreads to identify the genres that interest you.

·         Find internet sites that offer free or reduced price books.

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·         Look for sites such as WordPad and be among the first to read novels by new writers and               established ones.

·         Use bookseller sites and review blogs to identify trending authors and upcoming novels.

·         Review the books you read, online, especially the authors you like, if you do, there is always             a good chance you will get the opportunity to receive an ARC to read, (Advance Reader’s                 Copy) which allows you to get free the newest novel from an author in return for a review.

Offline, start a book swap with friends to keep costs down and an informal book club is a great way to get together with mates and engage yourself with some great debate.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via images.unsplash.com

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Published on July 7, 2020

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

The Skinny on Mental Workouts

Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

1. Improved Memory

After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

3. Improved Work Performance

Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

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Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

1. Brainstorming

One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

2. Dancing

Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

3. Learning a New Language

Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

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4. Developing a Hobby

Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

For example:

  • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
  • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
  • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
  • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

5. Board Games

Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

6. Card Games

Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

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7. Puzzles

Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

8. Playing Music

Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

9. Meditating

Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
  • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
  • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
  • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
  • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

10. Deep Conversation

There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

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Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

11. Cooking

When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

12. Mentorship

Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

Final Thoughts

Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

More Tips for Training Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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