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Brain boosters for the sheltered-in-place

Being cooped up and a drastic change in daily routines can result in sluggishness — a general feeling of discombobulation. However, everything from nutrition, to exercise, to fresh air, to games and puzzles can stimulate the brain and enhance mood.

Informed Harvard Medical School Jan. 29, “Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try ‘mental gymnastics,’ such as word puzzles or math problems, experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting and other crafts.”

Most independent booksellers, struggling for at least two decades because of the Internet and online sales, are currently considered “essential” businesses during state-mandated quarantines and have experienced increased sales of table puzzles, crossword puzzles and brain-booster books that include trivia quizzes, visual challenges, brainteasers and word games. For leery, virus-nervous shoppers, many local store owners will take orders over the phone and either provide curbside service or mail items.

Plus, just reading is good for the brain — and for mood. In fact, Real Simple’s “8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book” offered: “Not only does regular reading help make you smarter, but it can also actually increase your brain power. Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a good workout.”

People who prefer to read an e-book or listen to an audiobook have access to hundreds of free options through local libraries and various sites (audible.com, for example, always has a free 30-day trial but is also offering some books free during the COVID-19 crisis).

Unhealthy food choices slow down the brain. Sugary snacks and drinks, refined carbohydrates and foods high in trans-fat are main culprits, according to healthline.com’s “The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain.” In contrast, medicalnewstoday.com in January promoted fish, dark chocolate, berries, nuts, whole grains, eggs and avocados as essential aspects of a brain-boosting diet that “can support both short- and long-term brain function.”

Finally, “stay physically active,” emphasizes Cleveland Clinic, which educates that exercise improves blood flow to the brain.

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