Industry Update
Opinion Article 5 June 2020

How to Keep Your Brain Sharp During Down Time

By Prince A. Sanders, Managing Director at Park Lane Hotel New York

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For many of us, we are now a while into quarantine. We have been tested in so many new ways during this pandemic, especially mentally. Our brains like to be active and stimulated. But, are we doing a good job of keeping our noggins sharp? Many of the activities that would usually keep our brains busy (socializing, interacting at work, etc.) are no longer a part of your daily routine.

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In a way, it's like we're at summer camp again. During the summer months (known for learning decline), my mother always ensured I was staying mentally and physically active. Now, I know this situation isn't fun at all. However, we need to work hard to ensure our brains receive the same stimulation. So what can we do to keep the mind sharp?

Keep a Daily Routine: Sticking to a daily routine is essential in limiting stress levels. The Virginia Spine Institute suggests keeping the same morning routine you would if you were going to the office. This might include eating your breakfast, changing into work clothes, going to a desk in your home, taking lunch, and ending your workday at the same time each day. Keeping to the same routine each day helps you stay motivated and focused on each task at hand, especially when it's time to work.

Read a Book (or Two): If you've been neglecting your stack of new books, now is the time to start reading! Each day set aside some time to read and stimulate your brain. Studies have shown that reading reduces stress by 68% and lowers your heart rate. It's a great way to distract yourself from the outside world and keep your eyes away from a screen. Maybe consider participating in a virtual book club with some friends or co-workers!

Exercise: Even though we can't go to the gym, there are still plenty of ways to remain active! Go for a walk or run each day, maybe try some yoga. If you're looking for a new exercise, there are plenty of resources available online for you to use. During physical activity, our brains release endorphins, a mood elevator. Getting active is an excellent way to boost mobility, reduce stress, and prevent boredom.

Learn Something New: As the business world around us continues to change, learning a new skill isn't a bad idea! Take an online class to improve your writing skills or learn a new language! There are so many options available and so many ways to teach yourself. Continuing your professional development while quarantining will keep you in the game when it's time to return to the office.

Find Hobbies That Stimulate Your Brain: Mentally exercising is just as important right now! Help your memory, concentration, and mood by playing games like solitaire, crossword puzzles, word games, and puzzles. If you're isolated with your family or significant other, take some time to play a board game each night instead of watching TV.

Stay Socially Connected: We are naturally social creatures, so don't let social distancing get in the way of that. Just because you can't gather with your friends or extended family doesn't mean you can't communicate with them. Maintain social interaction and connections during this time by using video calls.

Even though it may be a challenge to keep your brain sharp, it's essential to do so! Take some time each day to learn something new, read a book, or exercise. Your mind will thank you later.

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Prince A. Sanders

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