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Intellectual Wellness: Strategies to Exercise Your Brain

Discovering ways to expand your mind is much broader than you may initially have thought. This month’s article in the “Journey to a Healthier You” series takes a nostalgic look back at two activities you may have enjoyed growing up but that have likely fallen by the wayside as you’ve gotten older and taken on more responsibilities.

Bored No More, Play a Board Game

What memories come to mind when you think of the board games Monopoly, Checkers, Life, Clue and Sorry? Do many of them involve weekends at relatives’ houses or being stuck inside during bad weather? It might be time to think about board games in a new light.

Board games are a great low-cost way to bring family and friends together and forget about life’s stresses in a relaxed and carefree manner. They can even help with fine motor skills, which come in handy for the young and the young at heart. But also consider the practical cognitive and life skills that can be garnered from playing board games and card games: planning, problem solving, decision making, logical thinking, cooperation, competition and how to deal with mistakes. Take a moment to think about how these skills can be transferred to all aspects of your life, both on and off the job.

Imagine the Possibilities

When it comes to reading, your mind may travel back to high school and the required reading you were assigned – classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Catcher in the Rye and Fahrenheit 451. Now that you’re an adult, and likely many years removed from high school, say goodbye to those requirements and think about the wide variety of options available. The possibilities are endless: fiction, nonfiction, mystery, thriller, science fiction/fantasy, history, travel, biography and self-improvement are just a few.

Reading boosts your brain power and improves your vocabulary along with your analytical and communication skills. Depending on the type of book, you might learn something new or view your place in the world in a different way.

If you’re having trouble deciding what to read first, the following websites can help provide some direction and a starting point.

No matter your preference – playing a game one on one or with multiple people or reading a hardcopy or e-book – consider taking a step back to your youth to improve your intellectual wellness. You may even have some fun in the process.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]

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