Spring is a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can be. Yet many people struggle with change – a new job, new house, new responsibilities or roles. This seems to be particularly true when we get older and have to adapt to huge life changes – retiring, scaling down, moving into a retirement village, or assisted living or frail care. Is there anything we can do to make this easier so that we can be more flexible and adjust to change with less stress, more resilience and grace? To develop an agile, more flexible mind, here are just some of the exercises that you can do.
- Switch hands
If you are right-handed, try using your left hand to do things like brushing your teeth, eating, and using your computer mouse. Using your non-dominant hand results in increased brain activity.
- Eat with chopsticks
This will force you to eat mindfully which is good for your brain, digestion, and calorie consumption. (If you’re already good at this, try using chopsticks with your non-dominant hand instead.)
- Do chores with your eyes closed
When taking a shower, washing your hair, or sorting laundry, try doing it with your eyes closed. This will force your brain to use new neural pathways. Obviously, don’t do anything that could put you or others in danger.
- Do things upside down or backwards
Stimulate your brain by looking at things upside down. An easy one to start with is wearing your watch upside down. This forces your brain to really think every time you glance at your watch. You can also hang clocks or calendars upside down.
- Read books aloud
Take turns reading and listening to a book. If that’s not feasible, alternate reading with listening to audiobooks. This engages the imagination in a different way. One of the earliest demonstrations of brain imaging clearly showed three distinct brain regions lighting up when the same word was read, spoken, or heard.
- Take new routes
On a routine commute, your brain is on autopilot and gets very little stimulation. But taking an unfamiliar route activates the cortex and hippocampus. You can also take new routes when walking, biking, or riding public transportation.
Start exercising in ways that will stimulate your brain and in so doing help you to improve flexible thinking. Research has shown that we can create new brain cells, or neurons, and new neural connections throughout life – a concept known as neuroplasticity. “In a nutshell, how do you get neuroplasticity? It’s really simple,” says Denise Medved, founder of Ageless Grace, a fitness program for brain health and well-being. “It’s doing something new, something physical, that you don’t already know how to do, or it’s doing something you already do in a new way. With that one simple thing, your brain is racing to figure out how to do it.”
https://bebrainfit.com/brain-exercises; https://www.nj.com/healthfit/2018/09/ageless_grace.html; www.agelessgrace.com; http://www.picturequotes.com