In line, on hold, at a traffic light, for the doctor, on the carpool, to be seated: Waiting is no fun. The pace of our modern world leads us to be impatient and we find ourselves easily frustrated while waiting our turn. Perhaps you could opt to use that time for something constructive like mental gymnastics. Here are twelve things to do to build your brain while you wait:
1. Memorize the lyrics to a song. Memory is a skill like any other, it requires maintenance.
2. Name someone you know for every letter of the alphabet (or an animal, or a city). (Double Rs means double points for Ryan Reynolds)
3. Add the values of the items in your sight. Bet it’s been a while since you did some mental math.
4. Stand (privately, we hope) in a “victory” or “Wonder Woman” stance for two minutes. Your brain responds to this behavior by increasing testosterone and thereby improving confidence and decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol.
5. Pick any small number and start doubling it in your mind. How far can you get? This will build your mental endurance and concentration.
6. Recount the events of your day. Consider the different possibilities of how things could have gone, and explore the consequences. This improves creativity and makes you a better problem solver.
7. From your toes up, flex all the muscles in your body and then release them. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method of reducing tension in the body and helps you feel more clear-headed.
8. Look nearby for any ordinary object. Try to come up with ten or more different names for that object. Be creative and silly.
9. Imagine the bird’s eye view of where you are situated. Back up further and further and visualize the surrounding areas, creating a mental map.
10. Doodle aimlessly. This activity connects the hemispheres of your brain and allows for better relaxation and increased creativity.
11. Switch hands. Do any normal task with your non dominant hand to stimulate other areas of your brain.
12. Express gratitude. Write a thank you email, text, note, or just list the things you are grateful to have in your life. The thoughts that accompany gratitude increase your serotonin and elevate your mood.
Not only will these mental activities improve your memory and sharpen your brain in the short run, they may also protect you from Alzheimer’s disease. And remember, everything comes in time to those who can wait.