Couple Playing Fun Games

7 Fun Games To Help Improve Your Mind’s Health

You work out and eat well to keep your body fit, prioritize sleep to keep your immune system strong, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated, but what are you doing to keep your mind healthy? As we age, our brains begin to change, and taking proactive steps to keep them healthy is the best way to avoid complications like memory loss and cognitive decline. Read on. 

What Happens to Your Brain as You Get Older?

While most people aren’t aware of this, our brains shrink with age. Like a muscle that atrophies from a lack of use, the human brain begins to lose neurons and get smaller as we get older. Over time, this re-formation of the brain can lead to a feeling of mental dullness, at best, and memory loss and dementia, at worst. Fortunately, just because aging is inevitable doesn’t mean a declining mind has to be. Although it’s true that your brain changes as you age, it’s possible to use a series of specially designed games and activities to exercise your brain, just like you would any other muscle, and keep it sharp. In fact, studies have shown that adults who take part in mind games and other mental exercises are 63% less likely to suffer dementia than their counterparts. Just like a healthy back or strong arms, your mind is a “use it or lose it” tool, and the more proactive you are about keeping it healthy, the better. 

7 Brain Games to Improve Your Mind’s Health

Try incorporating these fun brain games into your daily routine to keep your mind healthy and active:

1. The Color Game

“The Color Game” is simple: you write out a list of color names, and change the color of the actual text so that it does not correspond to the color referred to. Here’s an example:

Black Blue Yellow Green Red Purple Orange

Now, read out loud the color each word is written in, not the word itself. While it sounds easy, this is a tough game! Move as quickly as you can through the set, and then start again to see if you can boost your score. Once you’ve got this set down, create another, larger set and try your hand at that one.

2. The Shortest Short Story

Chances are, you’ve written a short story in your life. Regardless of whether you were in college or high school, you’ve probably penned a 300-500 word tale you either read out loud or submitted. Now, it’s time to draw on those skills and create another short story that’s even, well, shorter! Using just seven words, craft a complete story. This game challenges your creativity and requires you to search your brain for the most impactful vocabulary. For example, consider Ernest Hemingway’s iconic 6-word story: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” To make this game a group one (and boost your neuroprotective benefits, even more, invite your friends and family over and have everyone write their stories on a slip of paper. Then, go around the room and read them aloud!

3. Non-dominant Hand Day

If you’re like most people, you rely almost entirely on your dominant hand. This is the hand you use to write, eat, brush your hair, and draw with. One great way to keep your brain active, though, is to encourage it to create new connections by using your non-dominant hand. For example, if you’re right handed, you’d spend a day using your left hand to write a letter or draw a simple picture. While this task will feel impossible at the beginning of the day, you’ll probably notice that things seem much easier by the end of the day, at which point you’ll know that your brain has successfully made some new connections!

4. Find a Hidden Object

One thing that boosts the performance and output of the brain is visual searching. Games like “Where’s Waldo” and similar “hidden object” challenges are ideal for this. Use your computer to find free online versions of these games or purchase a book that features a selection of hidden object challenges, in varying levels of difficulty. Try to locate the hidden object as quickly as possible. For some added fun, track your times and invite friends to join!

5. Test Your Memory

For this game, pull up a simple picture of an interior or exterior scene. The scene should have several elements to it. For example, a picture of a pond with a bench, some ducks, a walking path, a jogger, a tree, and a tulip bed. Once you’ve found an ideal image, study it for one minute. At the end of one minute, turn the picture face-down and write down all the items you remember. Then, turn the photo back over and see what (if anything) you missed. Complete the practice a second time to see if you do any better on the subsequent round!

6. Create a Story

Practicing creativity has been linked to better brain health. And what better way to be creative than to tell a group story? Have a few people over and get several sheets of blank paper. Sit together in a circle and have someone start by writing an opening line on the paper. This could be as simple as “The boy woke up and walked down the street to the store.” From there, pass the paper clockwise around the circle for thirty minutes and have everyone add a line that builds on the line before it. At the end of the thirty minutes, read the story aloud. Chances are, you’ll come up with a funny tale that’s a perfect combination of everyone’s creativity!

7. Count Backwards

To give your brain a real workout, practice counting backward. Starting at 200, count backward to zero in increments of five. Easy enough? Now, start at 200 and count back in increments of seven. Once you’ve done that, go from 500, counting backward in increments of three. Don’t get discouraged if you find this activity tough! Just take a deep breath and start again. You’ll probably find that the game gets easier as you repeat it.

Protecting Your Brain can be Fun!

Just like all other parts of the body, the brain changes as we get older, and if you’re not careful, those changes can contribute to memory loss and decreased cognitive function. Fortunately, it’s easy to take proactive steps to protecting your brain. By incorporating brain games and other fun cognitive exercises into your daily life, you can strengthen your brain’s connections, prevent atrophy, and keep your mind healthy and sharp as you age.