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If You Start To Travel More Often, You Can Grow Your Brain

If You Start To Travel More Often, You Can Grow Your Brain

Ready to expand your mind?  Give you brain a boost in power? Then it is time to pack your bags and take a trip. Venture out of the concrete jungles and get ready to explore. As your flight takes off and you know what is next. Trillions of new experiences.You just cannot wait. Life is awesome! The world waits. Neurogenesis sprouts out when you travel to complex, novel, and new surroundings.

But First Off, Stop with the Excuses

When people hear about traveling experiences they enviously spurt out ‘You are so lucky, I wish I could…’ and follow up with excuses of paying their bills, etc. What it amounts to is just that–excuses.

Many may think traveling is way out of range for them, expensive and out of financial barriers. Agreed that it is not free, however you do not have to be a millionaire to see many places and build up a wealth of lifetime memories. It is not an impossible fantasy exclusively for the rich.

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Some Practical Saving Tips

If you cannot take a trip to Vietnam why not explore a town nearby or tour your own town? Analyze your bank statements; there should be at least something on your monthly expenditure list that you can sacrifice if you save the amounts you spend on weekend takeaways for a year; it will afford a trip you always dreamt about. But if you just work, eat, sleep and pay bills never making time to travel or even share time with friends and family what does your existence amount to?

How Traveling Impacts You

Traveling is about close encounters with an unusual and new situation. It may be simply finding your way around the surroundings or ordering a meal in a language you not very familiar with. Studies have confirmed[1]the physical and mental benefits of traveling: social engagement, cognitive stimulation, and physical activity.

Traveling will awaken you to the realization that there are many different cultures and ways of life. You burst with new experiences and insight. New experiences boost cognitive health; your active brain creates new connections as it programs the unusual stimuli into categories. Plunging to explore the world will be an exercise you will not regret.

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Paul Nussbaum from the University of Pittsburg, a neurological surgery professor has affirmed that traveling grows the capacity of the brain as the challenges start to sprout dendrites, which are extensions. Surprisingly, travel relays the stress of being thrust out of normal daily routines, as your brain is ignited to react and engage attentively.

Where to Start

Although reaching mountain summits or strolling medieval cities can entice you, start with a simple weekend trip away from work or home. The experience and memories stay engraved and unforgettable.

Travel Opens up Our Minds

According to William Maddux, Ph.D. and his party found that people are more creative when they are integrated into new cultures[2]. When your mind opens up into the realms of different ideas, you become more creative.

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Toby Israel the author of Someplace like Home iterates that traveling is about reflecting on our lives from a physical and metaphorical distance. This helps us to assess our lives clearly.

Just How Amazing Travel is for your Brain

Anticipating a vacation sprouts a higher level of happiness than a new shirt according to a Psychological Science Journal. Researchers affirm that waiting for experiences equals to a higher level of happiness than mere material objects.[3]

A  US Travel Association recent study found that people who take vacation days have higher chances of being promoted at work than those rigidly staying behind their desks.[4]

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Travel is about meeting people, intellectual stimulation via exploring new and interesting things, and new information stretching our understanding of the world. It increases the neural connections and enhances stimulating activity like problem-solving, education, occupational learning. Studies reveal that students living abroad are more likely to solve computer tasks than students who did not travel. [5]

We’ll leave you with a quote by Mark Twain, “Innocents Abroad”

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Featured photo credit: pixabay via cdn.pixabay.com

Reference

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Nena Tenacity

Nena is passionate about writing. She shares her everyday health and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

Here Are 30+ Easy High Fibre Breakfast Ideas You Can Try At Home A Wholesome Diet Is What You Need to Gain Happiness: 30 Natural Low-Carb Foods 10 Best Healthy Snacks That Even Gym People Eat When They’re Hungry! Want A Quick Yet Healthy Breakfast? Avocado Toast Is Your New Breakfast Idea Want To Look Younger And Be Healthier? Acai Berry Is Your New Breakfast Idea!

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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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