News__ Getting Brains This Winter

December 16, 2010 | By

Exercise your brain this winter

With the temperature continuing to drop, it's becoming less appealing to haul ass to the gym--besides, having some extra meat on your bones helps keep you warm. So, instead of bicep curls and squats, flex your neurological muscles by taking part in some intellectual activities that require a little more thought than deciding what to buy your boyfriend for Christmas or what cardigan to throw over your party dress.

Exercising your brain helps deal with stress and build memory and concentration skills. Win, win. To get you started, here is a list of 5 ways to replenish your brain cells and keep your wit sharp for all the holiday banter you'll have to keep up with over the next few weeks.

1. Transcendental Meditation: Filmmaker and all around creative genius, David Lynch, swears by the Transcendental Meditation (TM) strategy. A 20-minute self reflective technique, Transcendental Mediation helps with creativity, body health and reducing stress. The David Lynch Foundation is working to implement TM programs in places like schools to help battle high suicide rates, and the military to deal with PTSD.

2. Lumosity: A website and app, Lumosity is run by a team of scientists who develop exercises that help improve memory, awareness, clarity, problem solving, and concentration.  And if some of your loved ones seem a little dim this holiday season, gift them a membership.  You'll be spreading knowledge and cheer during the upcoming festivities, and for the rest of the year.

3. Brain Food: Yoshiro Nakamatsu, aka Dr. Nakamats is a Japanese super-genius who has created over 3000 inventions, including the digital watch, floppy disk, and synthesizer (thank god for that, dream-pop wouldn't be the same without him!) Over the course of the last 34 years he has photographically documented everything he's eaten to study the effects of specific foods on human brain functioning--a project that won him the IG Nobel Prize for nutrition. Dude wants to live for 144 years, and has created "Yummy Nutri Brain Food," snacks he eats to nourish his mental and creative aptitude. But, if you're not into dried shrimp, yogurt, eel and chicken liver, pick up a bottle of Love Jet Spray, Nakamats' answer to Viagra that enhances your skin and sex life.  He insists that getting busy often is a necessary step on the road towards becoming a genius.

4. Crosswords: Getting back to basics is always a good idea.  Open up the NYTimes and start with the across column.  Even if you haven't been "down" with crosswords in the past, start with Monday and work your way up to Saturday. The Times puzzles get more difficult over the course of the week. And, if you don't read the paper regularly, getting a subscription would also  be a good move for your intellectual well-being.

5. Brooklyn Brainery: BK brains offers a more collaborative form of education. Inexpensive and interactive, the classes are taught by experts, hobbyists, and members of the community on topics anyone involved is eager to learn or teach.  Sign up for one of their holiday classes, like "How to Survive Winter," or "Holiday UpCycling" this month, or suggest a class that teaches a skill you've always wanted to know but never took the time to learn.

And for all you students and professionals out there who have drained your brains writing finals and meeting end of year deadlines, we know what you need may not be vigorous mental exercise.  Ya'll can stick to the meditation, maybe throw in some yoga and a nap or two a day over the break.

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