Develop Both Hemispheres of the Brain

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, a person who is ‘left-brained’ is said to be more logical and analytical, while a person who is ‘right-brained’ is more intuitive, thoughtful, and creative. In reality, the brain is a complex organ, and both hemispheres constantly engage and communicate with one another, regardless of whether the task is more creative or analytical.[1] However, actively challenging your mind with new tasks that involve both linear and creative thought processes may help strengthen your intellectual skills and keep your mind sharp.


Engaging Your Brain

  1. Learn a new language. Research suggests that learning a new language is one of the best ways to stimulate your mind. Learning a language, at any age, may help grow the hippocampus, an area involved in understanding new information and spatial reasoning.[2]
    • Pick a language you have always wanted to learn. The benefits of language-learning are present regardless of what language you choose.
    • Use online resources to start learning for free. There are a number of free, online language programs that can help you start on any language you choose. Get started with programs such as Duolingo or Busuu.[3]
    • Take classes at a local community center. Many centers and community colleges offer language courses for personal enrichment. Sign up for one if you prefer formal instruction.
    • Find a local group or online forum to practice. There are many people trying to improve their foreign language conversation skills, and you can join them online or in person to get more practice with your new language.
  2. Break your routine. The more something becomes routine, the more hardwired and thus less stimulating it is in your brain. Challenge different parts of your routine every day to keep your brain active.
    • Take a new route home. If you commute the same way every day, try a different route to bolster your spatial reasoning and provide your brain with new stimuli.
    • Switch to your non-dominant hand for simple activities such as brushing your teeth or holding your fork.
    • Replace a common word for the day. Challenge yourself to go the whole day without using a word like “good” or “very.” Get the language center going by thinking of synonyms.
    • Do a chore in a different way. If you typically use the dishwasher, wash your dishes by hand. If you usually vacuum starting in the living room, get the bedroom first this time.
  3. Learn how to meditate. Research at UCLA suggests meditation strengthens the connections between brain cells, which may help meditators process information faster.[4]
    • Make yourself comfortable. This may mean wearing comfortable clothes, finding a comfortable space, or getting rid of unnecessary distractions.
    • Close your eyes and focus. Those new to meditation may not be able to clear their mind completely, but should try focusing on one thing such as breathing patterns or a mantra.
    • Perform a body scan. Close your eyes and check in with each part of your body, starting at the toes and moving upward. Relax each body part individually until you reach the top of your head.
    • Practice a guided meditation. There are many online resources, as well local practitioners that can get you started by guiding you through a meditative experience.
  4. Learn a new skill. New mental challenges force your brain to use different channels, which improves memory and critical thinking. Learn about something you don’t do or understand very well to challenge your mind.[5]
    • Learn a musical instrument. Challenges with increasingly demanding skills work the brain to keep it strong.
    • Take out an old textbook and try to remaster a skill that you haven’t used since you first studied it. Try a geometry problem if you don’t have much complicated math in your daily life, or learn the details of a historical event that you don’t currently know very well.
    • Take up art. Regardless of skill level, art forces the mind to create relationships between elements of composition, such as color, light, and texture in visual art. Thinking through different compositions helps the brain consider multiple scenarios, which is vital for creative problem solving.
  5. Learn to juggle. Juggling, or any activity practiced with intent, such as playing an instrument or learning chess, helps build the areas responsible for communication channels within the brain.[6]
    • If juggling is not a hobby that interests you, try learning an instrument or practicing a sport that has heavy hand-eye coordination, such as tennis or volleyball.
    • Practice regularly. Learning is not enough on its own. Regularly practicing your new skill ensures the brain stays engaged even after you master the basics.

Maintaining a Healthy Body

  1. Get regular exercise. To keep your brain healthy, you need to keep your body healthy. Regular exercise helps improve critical thinking and memory retention. It also gives your brain a break from work-related thinking, which may help spark creativity.[7]
    • Take a walk. Exercise does not need to strenuous to engage the brain. A walk for just two miles can help the brain engage in new ideas.
    • The brain benefits from most forms of cardiovascular exercise. Find something that you enjoy enough to do regularly, or create a varied schedule that may include walks, runs, biking, dancing, or workout classes. Aim for at least one hour of cardio at least three times a week.[8]
  2. Eat nutrient-rich foods. Developing a healthy diet benefits many of your internal organs, including your brain. Eating a balanced diet maximizes your brain function both throughout the day and over the course of your life.
    • Some studies suggest that food rich in omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids help improve concentration and fight memory loss. Cold-water fish, leafy greens, nuts, and flaxseed oil are good sources.[9]
    • Getting sufficient B-vitamins, particularly Folate, B6, and B12 may help slow cognitive impairment. Get folate and B6 from leafy greens and whole grains, and B12 from animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, or dairy.[10]
    • Broccoli, cabbage, and mustard greens may help prevent and fight neurodegenerative diseases, though further research is needed to confirm their efficacy.[11]
    • As a general rule, maintaining a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and complete proteins gives your brain all of the power it needs for healthy daily function.
  3. Get some rest. Ensuring that you get enough sleep every night may contribute to stronger memory, promote productivity, and improve attention span.[12]
    • Treat a good night’s sleep like a necessity. Think of it the same way you would think about making sure you are fed or that you have water.
    • Create a bedtime routine to help you prepare for sleep, and stick to it. This may include taking a shower, brushing your teeth, reading for a set period of time, or anything else that helps you feel relaxed and prepared for bed. Keep it consistent.
    • Aim for at least 6 hours of sleep a night. A quality night’s rest is unlikely with fewer than 6 hours of sleep.[13]
    • Do not oversleep. While sleep is important, oversleeping may also negatively impact memory. Try not to exceed 9 hours a night under regular circumstances.[14]

Spending Time With Others

  1. Spend time with friends. A healthy brain starts from within, but maintaining a healthy social life helps keep the mind sharp. Regular, friendly engagement with others may help boost short-term cognitive function.[15]
    • Try activities that require you to think about another person's mental processes. Games that involve strategy, including video games and role-playing games, are good options.
    • Get to know a new person. Engaging in brief, amicable conversations with someone can boost your brain function. Try talking to someone new, or learning a new thing about an old friend.
    • Have dinner with friends or family. Talk about your day, and allow others to share with you.
    • Worry less about what you do and more about who you do it with. Times where people actively talk with their friends are the most beneficial for the brain, so spend a little time each day talking to people you truly like.
  2. Volunteer. Some studies suggest that volunteering may help maintain healthy brain function. One Johns Hopkins University study found that older adults tutoring children delayed declining brain function.[16]
    • No one quite knows what volunteer activities are best for brain function, but some professionals speculate that stimulating activities such as teaching, tutoring, or reading may be the most beneficial.[17]
    • Pick a cause you care about. A 2012 study found that only people who volunteer for truly altruistic reasons get the health benefits of volunteering.[18]
    • Call local schools, community centers, and youth groups to see if they need help teaching or tutoring.
    • Check with your local animal shelter to see if there are volunteer opportunities available walking animals or at adoption events.
    • Ask your local seniors center about teaching a continuing education course for the senior community.
    • Food pantries and soup kitchens often lack volunteers after the holidays season. Ask about their year-round opportunities.
  3. Adopt a Pet from a Shelter. Pets, particularly dogs and cats, do wonders for their owners. Not only do pets help heart health, they also reduce stress and improve your mood, both of which help make your brain stronger.[19]
    • Call your local animal shelter and ask about the pets available for adoption. Schedule a visit to meet the animals.
    • Make sure you have the resources to properly take care of a pet. Ask the shelter “does this animal have any special needs?” and contact a local vet and ask about pet health plans.
    • Talk to the shelter about a proper setup for the pet. Ask “what type of food does this pet need?” and “how much activity should this pet get?” Make sure to talk about the pet’s schedule so that you know what it needs daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.
    • Set aside time daily to play and bond with your pet. That helps both of you stay mentally strong and happy.


  • Learn what you love. You will be more motivated to keep engaging your brain if you are doing something you truly enjoy.
  • Don’t skip meals. Your brain needs fuel, just like your body. Keep your brain healthy by keeping it nourished throughout the day.
  • Keep challenging yourself. Taking on a variety of new and different challenges engages more of your brain.


  • Do not make any changes that could potentially harm your physical or mental health. Consult a medical professional before making any major changes to your diet or beginning a rigorous exercise routine.

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