It is important to have a sharp mind, especially now. Although the pandemic has subsided (maybe somehow, somehow), many of us are still not getting the daily stimulation we once got from crowded offices, rugged happy hours, and social gatherings with friends and family.
To avoid getting caught in a “pandemic fog,” experts recommend playing games at home to exercise your brain regularly.
According to Rebecca Marcus, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist in New York who specializes in mindfulness, brain games are important for several reasons:
- They can help improve focus, concentration, and memory.
- You can help us to be more present in everyday life.
- While brain games don’t appear to prevent age-related cognitive decline and dementia, increasing research suggests they can slow them down or delay them.
“We tend to feel distracted, have difficulty concentrating, or experience forgetfulness when we do nothing to move and keep our minds sharp,” says Marcus. “Just as we wouldn’t expect to go to the gym for 3 months and then have muscle and strength forever without training, the same goes for exercising our mind.”
It is important to note that, according to Marcus, the game you choose must constantly increase in challenge and variety. “If [you’re] If you just keep playing the same thing over and over again, your mind won’t be challenged anymore and will start running on autopilot, ”she says.
Aside from brain games, she says, another way to challenge your brain is to simply vary your regular routines or tasks. For example, if you walk your dog the same route every day, try a different direction one day. (See? Easy!)
You will also want to challenge both sides of your brain.
The left hemisphere is known for performing logical tasks like science and math, while the right hemisphere is more visual and intuitive. Games like Sudoku and Puzzles are great for challenging the left brain.
On the flip side, to strengthen the right side of your brain, “keep your emotional intelligence awake by having conversations in which you evoke and adjust to the emotions of others,” says Sarah Schewitz, PsyD, a licensed Psychologist in Los Angeles.
You can also try new creative hobbies, such as:
- Creative writing
- Play music or learn to play an instrument
When creating our list, we took various criteria into account. Some key features include:
- Opinions from experts in the field. We spoke to two psychology experts to get their opinion on what to look for when choosing a game.
- User ratings and customer feedback. We took into account user ratings and customer feedback from various websites that sell the products.
This classic word game not only fosters competitive spirit in every age group, but also enriches your vocabulary and trains your mind to focus on a single task. With a full dictionary of words to choose from, every round is different and you will never get tired of playing this game. After all, they have been around since 1948.
Sagrada is a dice placement game that lands halfway between a competitive board game and a brain teaser. The goal is to carefully construct a stained glass window by placing cubes according to the color and hue while observing many constraints. Users say that they had so much fun playing Sagrada that they dreamed of glass cubes at night.
This easy-to-learn, fast-paced game combines luck and strategy. The players take turns placing numbered tiles in rummy-style runs and groups. As the board changes, players keep adjusting their pieces until all of the pieces on their shelf are gone. Rummikub can help you improve your sequencing, pattern recognition, and planning skills.
Puzzles are great because they train both left and right brains at the same time. Puzzles require logic, intuition, and creativity, and are easy to get lost in for hours. Bonus: There are so many new aesthetic puzzle brands like Ordinary Habit, Piecework, and Whiled highlighting new artists from all over the world.
5. Rubik’s Cube
The Rubik’s Cube is known as the best-selling and most famous puzzle in the world. With over 43 trillion possible moves, this portable game is perfect for stimulating the brain during idle times. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching TV while sitting in a waiting room, try to solve the cube. (But be warned: it’s harder than it looks.)
Azul is a tile placement game where players compete for the highest score by claiming tiles and arranging them on their board to score points. It’s a great strategy game for the family and was named the coveted game of the year in 2018 – a guarantee of fun and quality.
Sudoku is a number puzzle in which you have to fill a grid with the numbers 1 to 9, each number appearing only once in a row, column or box. This classic game stimulates critical thinking and helps improve concentration. While there are plenty of mobile options these days, nothing is harder than playing with pen and paper.
8. Our Moments Couples: Conversation Starters For Great Relationships
“It is also important to maintain your emotional intelligence by engaging in conversations in which you evoke and adjust to the emotions of others. Take the time to have a meaningful conversation with a loved one and improve your emotional intelligence by observing and asking how they feel during the conversation, ”says Schewitz.
This card pack is filled with stimulating questions like “What is something that you will never try again?” Or “What have you lost since childhood that you would like to regain?”
9. Crossword puzzle
Clinical study results show that crossword puzzles help delay the onset of memory loss in people with dementia. This brain activity helps you improve your verbal skills and forces you to think deeply.
If “The Queen’s Gambit” wasn’t inspirational enough, playing chess leads to better brain function, improved memory and cognitive skills, strategic thinking, and a longer attention span. In this 2019 research report, scientists found that the cognitive benefits of chess could help protect older adults from dementia.
Games are an excellent way to learn new things and to stimulate your brain. These options are incredibly fun, pandemic friendly, accessible, and work to keep your mind sharp for the long term.
Iman Balagam is a writer from Houston, Texas. When she’s not laughing at her own jokes or buying overpriced chia pudding, you can find her on board reading novels, biking, Doom scrolling through TikTok, or waiting for her late Spirit flight. You can see more of their work on their website.