Be a curious cat
1. Go back to school: Taking a class on something that is interesting to you is a great way to flex your mental muscles, according to Breznitz. And, thanks to the Internet, a time-crunched, cash-strapped person can enjoy free lectures without leaving their house. There are a number of different websites that offer video lectures on everything from organic chemistry to classical mythology, taught by professors from such celebrated institutions as Stanford and Harvard University. Apple also has a program called iTunesU, which can be downloaded to any computer and has a collection of college courses that you can bookmark and stream for no charge.
2. Take a trip: Traveling to someplace you’ve never been is a fantastic way to fire up dormant neurons. If you don’t have the time or the funds to become part of the jet set, don’t worry, you can still get away. Breznitz says that simple activities like walking a new path along the beach, or in a local park, can be enough to stimulate your mind.
3. Explore your strengths: Attending to your mental and physical weaknesses is likely to produce a greater cognitive challenge. But Breznitz feels that it’s important not to neglect your strengths. “Investment in one’s strengths is needed for both self-image (sense of success) and for a more in-depth understanding of problems,” he says. Expanding upon an existing talent can be a great way to boost your self-esteem while challenging your brain. For example, if you’ve always been an avid reader and want to branch out into writing, set aside time each day to practice. You can buy books of daily writing prompts at your local books store, or go online and get a few for free. Who knows, you may find your inner romance novelist.
4. Get a hobby: Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, learn a new language, etc., but you just never got around to doing it? Why not start now?
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The Curiosity Challenge: 8 Ways to Construct Cognitive Reserve originally appeared on AgingCare.com.