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Wellness Wednesday

Staying Mentally Fit

puzzles help improve your mental fitness

I will admit to not having much “down time” most days. On the rare occasion when I am not scheduled to be away on assignment, in a meeting or on my computer frantically trying to meet a deadline, the default forms of relaxation I turn to involve physical movement outdoors. And while exercise is crucial to maintaining one’s health, our mental fitness is equally as important—especially as we age.

Which was one of the reasons I was so excited when a friend in book club introduced me to Wordle. It is an online word game updated every day by The New York Times. I played it almost daily for three months straight. Challenging my brain to work in a different way was not only entertaining, but it also slightly decreased my tendency to suddenly lose my train of thought in the middle of writing.

Digital puzzles may not be your jam, but here are a few other activities that can positively impact brain health:

Jigsaw puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles are known to improve concentration, mood stability and attention levels. In addition, working on puzzles can reduce stress and anxiety.

Card games
Card games increase problem-solving skills, plus keep one’s mind sharp by having to make strategic and mathematical decisions. For those who also struggle with social anxiety, two- to four-player games may be a less intimidating environment to interact with others and make new friends.

Chess
Chess requires a wide range of cognitive functions: memory, logic and pattern recognition, as well as analytical and critical thinking. And if having a long attention span is a personal superpower, this is a mental “work-out” worth trying.

Other activities known to boost brain power are Tai chi, knitting and number puzzles such as Sudoku. Got another suggestion? Drop it in the Comments section below so that I and the rest of the TOPS community can check it out.

Harness your power to be well this Wednesday,
—Rachel

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