Your body and your mind are interconnected. We all know that exercise is good for our bodies but perhaps we are less aware of the importance of intellectual health and fitness.

We stay intellectually or mentally healthy when we exercise our curiosity and seek many experiences as well as exploring new ideas.

Variety in intellectual stimulation is essential. We can easily fall into an assumption that because we regularly do the crossword, for example, on the way to work or during our break, we are giving our mind its daily workout.

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Unfortunately, if we subject our grey matter to the same mental activity daily, we are not boosting our intellectual or mental capacity. It’s important to continually vary the nature of our mental activities.

That doesn’t mean that we have to spend hours each day giving ourselves a thorough mental workout.

Just spending a period of a few minutes engaging in a different mental activity that stretches our thinking and imagination is extremely valuable.

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Naturally, if we are engaged in work that requires us to concentrate and think for long periods without a break, we become mentally fatigued, leading to the likelihood of errors.

Research has shown that an increasing proportion of the working population spends hours without taking the official breaks, including lunch breaks.

“Micro-breaks” which are very short pauses in normal activities lasting between 30 seconds and 5 min can improve your mental sharpness on average by 13%.

Someone working at a computer screen all day who takes just 15 seconds every 10 minutes to look away from the screen and stretch their bodies can reduce fatigue by 50%.

Creative ways for you to boost your intellectual health

– Compile a crossword. Choose a subject or topic of interest to you and compile your own crossword or word search. It could be a sport, hobby or your area of professional expertise. You might work on it for just a few minutes a day taking several days to finalise it.

– Read up on Haiku. Then try your hand at this style of three line “poems”. Base them on work, sport, a hobby or observation of life around you.

– Learn to juggle 3 balls (then 4 if you get clever!) It’s an excellent way of maintaining and enhancing your hand, eye and brain co-ordination. You get some upper body exercise that’s good for the heart too.

– Read Tony Buzan on “Mind Mapping” a visual way of note making for journals, brainstorming, and creating excellent summaries of key facts and information when reading non-fiction books.

– Learn to “PhotoRead” Paul R Sheele’s paperback explains how to locate relevant information in nonfiction books at very high speed involving the unconscious mind. A fantastic technique especially when researching several books on the same topic.

– Sharpen up your ability to draw or sketch. Betty Edwards “Drawing on the right side of the brain” shows how anyone starting with no artistic ability can produce amazing results in just a few days.

– Learn at least a few phrases of a foreign language. This is regarded as an excellent intellectual activity. Perhaps you have a neighbour or someone at work with whom you could exchange a few pleasantries.

– Write your own arithmetical problems and solve them. Just write some random strings of numbers each separated by an addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division sign and then solve them.

– Choose a newsworthy item and throw it open to discussion with colleagues. Challenge the reported facts, playing devil’s advocate. Toss in a few controversial thoughts of your own.

And when you have very limited time just sit and use your imagination. Spend 5 minutes “daydreaming” that you are doing any one of the things listed above, or another activity that you have devised.

DON’T DO THIS WHILE DRIVING THOUGH! You could be on the train or bus or at work, taking a breather.

A final reminder. Continue to stimulate your mind by engaging in a variety of mental activities. Be willing to break out from your usual comfort zone to do something you’ve never done before.

Intellectual health and wellness stems from a display of curiosity and a strong desire to keep on learning.

So … JDI!

Just Do It!

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