5 Mental Mind Games for Gamers – Things Gamers Can Do to Keep Their Minds Sharp
Playing video games can help people learn more quickly, develop greater mental focus, become more spatially aware, estimate more accurately, multitask more effectively and see better, according to “Why video games may be good for you” for BBC Future.
Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester also discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster. The researchers found that “video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn’t just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of general skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.”
While there are many benefits to gaming, if you’ve recently found yourself in a slump, or are having trouble breaking through to that next level, it’s possible that it’s due to your brain being a bit bored, according to “5 Ways To Stimulate Your Brain” for Business Insider.
“Sticking to the same daily routine is like eating just white rice every day for your noggin,” according to Business Insider. “It’s lacking flavor and could be elevated to amazing levels with just a few basic ingredients. Playing games with your mind keeps you sharp and boosts memory retention and powers of reasoning.”
So, if you’ve been spending the majority of your time playing video games and only video games of late, we’ve come up with five different types of mental mind games to help you keep your mind sharp.
1. SWITCH HANDS FOR THE DAY
“Simply switching the hand you usually use for routine tasks gets your brain thinking in a different way,” according to Business Insider. “When brushing your teeth, use the opposite hand. Eating? Use the opposite hand. You can really test yourself and try writing an entire day while using your less frequently used hand.”
A research article published in the journal Neuropsychologia concluded that 10 days of training led to improved skill with the non-dominant left hand. The research also found that skill gains were retained for 6 months after the end of training, and successful learning was associated with a left hemisphere cortical network.
So, if you’re a natural righty, try to only use your left hand for the majority of the day and see how it goes.
2. PUT A JIGSAW PUZZLE TOGETHER
“Doing a jigsaw puzzle engages both sides of your brain: the right, which is the creative side, and the left, which is the logical side,” according to this Everyday Health article.
Solving jigsaw puzzles also improves visuospatial functioning, and if worked on with friends, the social interaction is also beneficial for brain health.
“Jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic tool for engaging short-term memory, since your brain has to sort through a series of colors and shapes in order to assemble a visual picture,” according to “11 Unforgettable Games to Improve Your Memory” for Mental Floss. “The more pieces, the harder your brain has to work, and the greater the reward. ‘Clicking’ a piece in place has been shown to produce dopamine, which can help concentration.”
And if you really want to challenge yourself, Mental Floss suggests flipping the pieces over, then trying to solve the puzzle by only relying on shapes.
3. SHOWER WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED
“Your senses are what helps your brain make decisions and build connections, but we often rely too heavily on one or two senses, leaving the others behind,” according to Business Insider. “Stimulate your brain and close your eyes while washing your hair, eating, or putting on your clothes. Along with being a fun challenge, your brain is encouraged to use those other senses that have been forgotten about.”
By shutting your eyes and allowing your senses to take control, you’ll be training your brain to help in different situations when sight isn’t possible, according to this Daily Mail article.
“By using the sense of touch, or the tactile sense, you are sending different messages to your brain than you would if you were using your visual sense,” according to the Daily Mail. “While usually taking a shower with your eyes open to see the knobs to turn on the water, as well as checking to see what’s shampoo and what’s conditioner, switch it up. So, to practice this exercise, when taking a shower, completely utilize the tactile sense by turning on the faucets and washing your hair and body, all while keeping your eyes closed.”
4. PLAY POKER
In “Mind Over Matter: Training Your Brain to Become a Better Gamer,” EGamersWorld.com recommends not only playing video games, but also trying other games like poker, which can help with both decision-making and strategy skills.
“Not only does poker sharpen your mathematical skills, but it also requires strategy and making moves quickly under pressure – all of which are essential in online video gaming,” according to EGamersWorld.com.
5. BRAIN YOGA
“Take your left hand, make a fist, and extend your thumb; do the same with your right, only extend your pinky,” says Mental Floss. “Now switch them so it’s left pinky and right thumb. Not so easy? The coordination involved will strengthen neural connections, which will help both memory and other gray matter functions.”
EGamersWorld.com also says that developing hand-eye coordination, which can be sharpened through playing your favorite video games, is crucial to becoming a better gamer. If you want to rest your eyes, though, EGamersWorld.com recommends playing catch or ping-pong, or even bouncing a tennis ball off a wall and catching it on your own.