Awareness Wednesday: Mental Exercise

Need a midweek break? How about working out your brain? The New York Times had a special issue focused on puzzles earlier this week, which reminded me of the importance of using your noggin for something fun once in a while. Time to put your thinking caps on!

There are countless benefits to mentally-stimulating leisure activities such as crosswords, Sudoku, or playing cards besides the feeling of satisfaction upon successful completion or impressing your friends:

  1. Enhance your critical thinking skills
  2. Sharpen your vocabulary and trivia knowledge
  3. Become a better conversationalist
  4. Improve your memory and cognitive function
  5. Grow new brain cells
  6. Ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s

You can find links to the puzzles featured in Tuesday’s Science Times here. There are plenty of other ways to exercise your brain besides doing a standard puzzle: do math in your head, draw, paint or craft, or write with your non-dominant hand. Start simple and you’ll be amazed at how much you can improve these skills in a few weeks: the key is to present yourself with new challenges.

By the way, newspaper crossword puzzles are easiest on Mondays and get progressively harder as the week goes on, so I wouldn’t recommend jumping into the Sunday Times Crossword just yet!

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