Updated: May 22
When we think of intellectual wellness, we often time think of having a vast fund of knowledge or random facts. However, intellectual wellness entails more than this. Intellectual wellness is our ability to engage in creative, mentally stimulating activities, building our knowledge, and sharing this knowledge with other people. Signs of waning intellectual wellness include poor study skills, poor time management, difficulty with critical thinking and developing ideas of your own, and reluctance to accepting new ideas and beliefs.
I can recall as soon as I was done with formal education, the elation of the thought, "I will never have to study again!" The truth is many of us feel this way as the stringent routine of formal education can be exhausting. However, the brain is just like a muscle. If you do not exercise it, it won't grow but will atrophy (wasting away or degeneration of cells). The way to combat this is to continue learning, yes just for the sake of learning. Wellness as a whole requires us to continually work to improve ourselves, being proactive rather than reactive (waiting until an issue arises). Below, I will detail 7 activities that can help boost our brain power and increase our intellectual wellness.
Take Care of Your Body
I know this article is about our brain and I start the first tip off focusing on the physical; but bear with me here. Our brains are a part of our body. Taking care of our bodies in turn helps take care of our brain. Nourishing foods, limiting alcohol, getting exercise, and getting the appropriate amount of sleep all aid in helping our brains' optimal functioning. Feel good hormones such as dopamine (which increase our feelings of happiness) and serotonin (which help relieve stress) also help in our intellectual wellness.
Processing our thoughts and emotions help with our inner growth, increase our self-awareness, and boost our self-confidence. Think of it as looking into your mirror and describing everything you see. Except this isn't a physical task but an inward one. Ways to self-reflect include meditating, journaling, talk to yourself out loud, or sign up for a personal coaching session with a coach to help guide you in your process.
Sometimes our brains need a change in the normal day to day activities. You can write, draw, dance, cook, or start a DIY project. Do a writing exercise where you set a timer and write for 5 to 10 minutes the first thing that comes to you mind. This will help get your thoughts on paper to better organize them. Drawing or painting helps aid in relaxation; it exercises the hands, mind, and eyes. Drawing or painting can help enhance critical thinking skills, produce new insights, and increase creative thoughts. Dancing helps with flexibility, reduces depression, increases energy, improves coordination and balance. Cooking can help you look and feel healthier, boost energy, and improve resilience to stress. DIY projects help to get you out of your comfort zone, inspires, improves creativity and thinking, and gives your body a workout.
Learn a Foreign Language
Learning a new language helps stimulate your brain by helping your gray matter grow. Gray matter play essential role in how we process memories, emotions, speech, self-control, decision making, seeing, and hearing. Learning a foreign language helps improve our attention span and focus. It has also been known to help slow down cognitive decline that sometimes comes with old age. It can also open up access to interactions with other interesting people with different worldview than your own or even open up more career opportunities.
Try Something New
This mental exercise can help your brain build new cells and strengthen connections between the cell. Exercising your brain in this way can help with concentration, attention to detail, memory recall, and problem solving. You may get a laugh out of the trial and error process of learning; that laughing can produce the feel good hormones that relieve stress and increase feeling of happiness. Trying something new can boost your sense of achievement as you set new goals and achieve them.
Play Brain Games
Whether you download an app, play a boardgame, or put together puzzles, playing games help boost our brains. Brain games help stimulate our cognitive abilities, sharpening our thinking processes. Brain games or brain teasers help reinforce connections between our brain cells which can lead to sharper short-term memory. Brain games also work both the left and right side of our brain. The left side of our brain is thought to be responsible for our ability to be analytical and utilize logical thinking whereas our right side of our brain controls creativity. Brain games can also improve mood by the production of dopamine.
I saved my absolute favorite for last, reading. I do both reading for pleasure and reading for growth. Whether you read a religious text, the latest self-help book, your favorite blog, or a fiction book, try committing to read something for at least 15 minutes every day. To make it even more fun, you can find local book clubs or author readings (or virtual because COVID is still a thing). Regular reading helps improve brain connectivity, increases your vocabulary (watch out to any person who finds themselves your opponent in Scrabble or Words with Friends), increases your ability to empathize with others, aids in sleep readiness, and prevents cognitive decline as we age.
As with any other dimension of wellness, intellectual wellness requires balance. This list of activities is not exhaustive or all inclusive. To improve your intellectual wellness, look for activities that you find fun, challenging, forces some measure of recall, seeing things from different vantage points, developing your own ideas, and establishing or defining your values. Doing so will help keep your brain fresh, strong, and young. You will find yourself improving in communication, conflict resolution, and becoming more confident in the choices that you make. However, like anything in life worth having, you have to work for it.
Which activity above caught your eye that you want to implement to increase your intellectual wellness? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time. Happy reading.
Shameless plug: Please note this article contains affiliate links to some items that you may enjoy as you embark on your wellness journey. Please know that if you click through the links and finalize a purchase, I will earn a commission. This of course is at zero additional cost to you. Affiliate links in this article include the Eccolo Lined Journal Notebook.
Here at EnvisionCo Blog, we try to keep ads to a minimum making our blog entirely reader-supported. We may feature links on this site for additional informational purposes. From time to time, we may feature other links which are affiliate links (and these will be clearly marked). When you click through an affiliate link on our site and sign up for a service or finalize a purchase, we may earn affiliate commissions. This is of course at no additional cost to you. However, if you like what you see and would like to make a donation to help us keep ads to a minimum, we would greatly appreciate it! Nothing fancy. We accept the price of a cup coffee with as much gratitude as we would the price of a tank of gas!