This post is sponsored by Zynga, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
As a mom, do you sometimes feel that your brain never gets any use any more?
There are days when I get through the entire day and feel like the most active brain function I had was deciding how to discipline my children (in some appropriate, creative way).
I think back to when I was a teenager. My grandmother (maternal) had Alzheimer's Disease, and it was absolutely horrible to watch her decline, get fearful, and forget who we were.
As you can imagine, due to that experience, I stay somewhat informed regarding the current state of research and knowledge regarding dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.
In the last few years, evidence has accumulated that shows that people who engage in activities that make them think hard or learn new skills do better on cognitive and memory tests than people who are less engaged do.
Further, research also shows that people with mentally active lifestyles tend to be less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's – that's good news to me!
As a result of watching what my grandmother went through, both my mom and I actively work to keep our brains engaged.
For me, it may only be for a few brief moments during the day (right now I can barely sneeze without the kids asking me for something!), but I work to incorporate exercises into my day that challenge my brain in some way.
While the options of how you can do that are limitless, the research-based recommendation is that you choose something that is new and challenges you or makes you think a bit.
Here are my top 5 tips for keeping your brain active and engaged (and healthy!)
Draw out your inner artist
Learn how to play an instrument. Join a choir or music group. Learn how to improve your photography skills. Take a local acting class, or learn how to paint, sculpt or draw. Do some journaling or write an essay – or a book!
Anything that requires creativity would qualify!
About 6 or 7 years ago, I took on one of the biggest challenges of my life (to that date). I became a certified group exercise instructor.
While I initially did it for many personal growth reasons, I found that it challenged my memory in a great way. I took on the task of learning how to teach a cardio kickboxing class that is fast-paced and chock full of ever-changing choreography that I need to memorize.
What an experience it has been! Every 2 months I get to memorize an hour's worth of brand new music and choreography. I really feel that doing this works my brain in a super healthy way, and I can tell that (over time), it's easier for me to learn the choreography.
One of my absolute favorite ways to work my brain is to play mentally challenging games! I have a whole bunch that I like, but my current favorite is playing Words With Friends 2.
It is so challenging to my mommy brain to take random letters and create an everyday word. Add to it the goal of scoring the most points to win a game, and I'm hooked!
I tend to play 5-6 people at once, and I'll take several short breaks through the day to play my turn in multiple games. It's perfect because I'm not pressured to play immediately, which fits my mom lifestyle.
Connect with Friends and Family
I love playing with a variety of people from all over the country as well as playing with my friends! The app will connect me with people I don't know for more game fun when my friends are busy with their lives. Finding friends and family is simple with their usernames.
I feel so challenged when I play WWF2, and I feel so incredibly smart and excited when I win a game! So far, my highest game score is 284 – I can't believe it! And not to brag on myself (ok, just a little because it's so rare for me), but my best scoring word was 61 points.
This game really appeals to my competitive side!
In full disclosure, I'm not a master at the game or at creating amazing words. I love to challenge myself to use small, everyday words but get the very most points for them that I can.
WWF2 is one of my very favorite “downtime” activities now! I will play it after I get up in the morning, before the day has really gotten busy. I'll play it during small breaks during the day, and I'll play it for a bit after I put the kids to bed.
It's fun. It's challenging. WWF2 is a way for me to connect with friends as well as people I don't know yet who have become friends through the game.
Wanna come play with me? Come find me! My username is: Heather1448
Take up a new hobby
What is something you have always wanted to do? Maybe put together a model take up scrapbooking?
A few years ago, I learned how to crochet. I began making scarves and hats galore.
Then I took it up a level and learned how to read patterns and create animals and objects that I stuff and give to my kids. It's a blast, it's challenging, and it's relaxing at the same time.
Learn something new, just for fun
Maybe you would finally like to learn how to speak another language or play the guitar. Maybe it's finally time to take up tennis or learn how to play pickleball.
If you need to, start simple and gradually increase the difficulty or challenge level over time!
You may find that you discover your brand new favorite activity!
The most important aspect in having an engaged, active mental lifestyle is to make it fun for you! It won't work to try to combat mommy brain if you hate playing the guitar but force yourself to do it anyway. Do something active. Do something challenging. Have fun!
And don't forget to meet me in the WWF2 app – we'll have a blast connecting and playing the perfect word…together (my username is Heather1448)!
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