The human brain isn’t a muscle, but it behaves much in the same way as one, if you train it and keep it active its functionality will improve.
In the modern world that is easier said than done, especially when ‘5 minutes’ on TikTok quickly turns into half an hour. Slipping into bad habits like mindlessly scrolling through social media and going through your day on autopilot can lead to something called ‘brain fog’.
Whilst brain fog is non-fatal, it can be debilitating and increase your stress levels. Fortunately, though, there are plenty of simple things that we you can do to lift the fog which will benefit your brain health and overall well-being.
One of the best things you can do for your brain is to challenge it, which improves your brain function and allows you to think faster, sharper, and better.
Challenging your brain doesn’t mean having to start a PHD, fortunately there are much more accessible ways to stimulate your brain and get those neurological pistons firing. Below are 5 great games that you can play right away to stimulate your mind and improve your brain function.
#1 Memory Games
Chronic stress has serious impacts on the structural and functional effects of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain responsible for making and maintaining memories. Therefore, there is a clear link between high levels of stress and a higher risk of developing dementia.
If you regularly struggle with higher levels of stress than usual, then you may want to play memory games to keep your hippocampus in fighting shape. Lumosity is a great app that has a number of scientifically developed games which have been designed to test your memory and improve your cognition.
The varied nature of the games will constantly keep you guessing and not give your brain a moment’s respite. Not only will this be good for your long-term memory, but it may also help to reduce your stress levels in the moment.
More often than not, stress is associated with worrying about a potential future event or ruminating about something that has already happen. The games will require your full attention, which will ground you in the present moment and thus reduce your stress levels.
If you’re solving complex mathematical problems on a daily basis, chances are your brain function is quite high. Unfortunately for most of us, our jobs don’t require us to work out a range of probabilities on a minute-by-minute basis.
Poker, which is essentially a game of probabilities and problem solving is a great way to get the same positive effects of solving complex mathematical problems whilst having fun at the same time.
Add into that the significance of psychology in poker and you have a game almost tailor made to improve your mental abilities. Devising a water-tight poker strategy, analysing the possible outs on every hand and trying to read your opponent’s tells are all complex tasks that will sharpen your mind.
If you buy a daily newspaper, you will most likely have looked at the crossword once or twice before flicking ahead to an interesting story.
In doing so, you were inadvertently passing up an awesome opportunity to test many different parts of your brain.
As crosswords are essentially word puzzles they primarily test the verbal language centres of your brain, which is useful if you are in a creative role. In addition to that though, they test your memory as you will be required to recall synonyms and phrases that you do not regularly hear.
If cryptic crosswords are more your thing, then your problem solving will be put to the test more so than your memory and verbal reasoning. Whichever type of crossword you end up choosing though, rest assured that your brain will thank you.
If you don’t regularly buy a newspaper or would struggle getting access to one, you can find free, daily crosswords on the AARP website.
#4 Aim Training
Motor skills are learned in childhood and give us the ability to carry out a movement with a high degree of certainty. Whilst most people never have to worry about their motor skills, with age they can deteriorate.
They can also deteriorate without use, and when they do simple tasks can become difficult and stressful. If you want to improve your fine motor skills (which is defined as movements that rely on smaller muscle groups) and enjoy playing video games, 3D Aim Training could be useful.
The app is free and offers you the chance to practice flicking, clicking, tracking, and strafing with your mouse. Even if you don’t play video games regularly, half an hour a week using this software will improve your motor skills which will have a positive impact on your day-to-day life.
#5 Happy Neuron
There are an estimated 100 billion neurons in our brains which are, in layman’s terms these neurons are responsible for sending signals through our brains and making connections.
Sometimes, our brain makes faulty connections and creates unhelpful pathways.
Happy Neuron is a paid-app that has been designed to create new, stronger neurons and pathways in our brains. The app divides its games and activities into 5 key areas: memory, attention, language, executive function and visual/spatial capacity.
If you want to train your brain to operate more effectively and efficiently, Happy Neuron is a great app to try. As mentioned though, it is a paid app so if money is tight, perhaps try some of the free games mentioned above.