Eight hacks to improve mental flexibility

Eight hacks to improve mental flexibility, an executive function that helps with transitions, change, and uncertainty.

1) Change your scenery. Go for a walk around the block. Take a coffee break. Take a vacation. Switch up your environment, and you will feel your mind shift.

2) Exercise offers a great mental boost. Oxygenation of the brain, particularly from cardiovascular exercise is literally fuel for thought.

3) Try something different. Learn to play an instrument or dance, cook a new recipe or even pick up a new language. Sometimes, I even have clients spend time writing using the opposite non-dominant hand. Older adults who participated in a variety of novel and stimulating activities over a six-month period demonstrated a significant gain in creativity, problem-solving abilities and other markers of ‘fluid intelligence’ helped prevent mental stagnation, and even helped stave off dementia. Novelty encourages mental flexibility and over-time supports brain growth to maintain those changes over time.

4) Debate with yourself. Become more aware of what you are saying and thinking. Listen to your words. Instead of being attached to your current way of thinking, try a different perspective. Critical thinking helps with brain functioning and flexibility.

5) Be spontaneous. Change up your routine. Drive a different way to work, take a new class, talk to a new person, or try a new recipe.

6) Mix tasking with breaks, especially physical movement. Going back and forth between a focused/detailed task and then something more physical can lead to more creative and innovative ideas. Research shows that allowing children and young adults who have ADHD to actually engage in fidgeting or physical movement improves performance and concentration. The movement allows the frontal lobe to be able to focus on the task at hand, rather than attempting to keep still.

7) Sleep. REM Sleep is a necessity for consolidation of memory. Memory, in turn, facilitates mental flexibility, and being able to switch between ideas and tasks.

8) Socialize. Reciprocal communication facilitates thought and keeps our brains fresh.

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Embolden Psychology
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