Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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How to Keep Your Brain Working This Christmas Season

Enjoy all that Christmas has to offer, but look after that brain too
Enjoy all that Christmas has to offer, but look after that brain too

Mince pies, a quick rummage through the Quality Street tin, and just one more turkey sandwich is generally the soundtrack to any British Christmas. We love to indulge and, when the weather is grey and cold, there’s no better time for it. However, there comes a point where Christmas television, endless grazing, and perhaps a glass of glühwein too many starts to make us feel sluggish. Our get-up-and-go leaves us, our brains feel foggy and, generally, a lot of us are absolutely ready to snap out of the Christmas routine come the New Year. If you’d rather avoid falling into it in the first place, then we’ve got some tips to keep your brain going during the festive season.

Embrace the Great Outdoors

It might be cold out there but embracing it for a few minutes will do you the world of good
It might be cold out there but embracing it for a few minutes will do you the world of good

Our first tip is hugely important. Even though it might be grey, cold, wet or windy, or even a wonderful combination of them all, getting outside does wonders for your brain. Wrap up warm, embrace the weather and enjoy a quick walk around the block. If you can, find some green space and aim for those 10,000 steps. We’re lucky to have the beach on our doorstep, a popular walking spot, so head out and watch the waves. Seeing the sunshine in the darkest days of the year will help to lift your mood, whilst engaging in a little light exercise will boost your endorphins too. You don’t have to complete a marathon or climb a mountain; just a small change will make a big difference.

Teach Yourself a New Game

Once you’ve gone out for that endorphin-boosting walk, it’s nice to have something to come home to and get started on. Learning a new game is a fun way to get your brain working, and one that you really won’t have to work hard to convince yourself to do. Poker and chess are great choices as they are both games that grow with you. When you start off with poker, you’ll want to work out which hand ranking is the strongest and play your best hand each time; slowly you’ll begin working out pot odds and improving your bluffing technique. In chess, you’ll start by learning how the pieces move and, before long, you’ll be knee-deep in theories about opening gambits. 

If you reach a lull in your practice then there are some ways to overcome it. Having a deadline can be a great motivator for some people. If you are trying to learn the rules of poker, you can sign up for a poker tournament to make sure you start spending a little more time remembering hand rankings. Poker’s popularity has grown with the rise of online poker tournaments and the ease of playing from anywhere. Chess will work just the same with online and in-person tournaments available throughout the UK, as well as the ability to learn all the moves of the pieces.

Learn a Language

If you enjoyed learning a new game then why not kick your New Year’s resolutions off a little early? Learning a language is one of the ultimate brain boosters and something us Brits tend to fall behind on when compared with the rest of the world. Those who speak a foreign language fluently are far less likely to develop memory problems associated with aging and, not only that, but it can open up a whole new world of holidaying possibilities. Whlilst it’s certainly easy to get by with English in many countries, speaking a common language like Mandarin, Spanish or even French can help you out in more rural locations. 

There are lots of apps that will help you to achieve your linguistic goals and, with so many people having language learning as a resolution, there are usually offers to be had in the new year. Duolingo is a great option for those who want to gamify their learning, whilst Busuu will suit people who like a social element to their lessons. Getting to listen to feedback from native speakers is a great way to quickly improve your skills and the scoreboard systems on both apps keeps you accountable when you’re starting to slip in the frequency of your practices.

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