By: Shelley Muller
Intellectual wellness is sometimes mistakenly associated exclusively with people who have college degrees or read classic literature, but intellectual wellness is important for everyone. It is not just about the classes we take or an IQ score, but rather it’s being open to new ideas, seeking personal growth through learning new skills, being creative, or exploring new activities. Fortunately, intellectual wellness can be improved in many ways, some of which can be included into our everyday routines.
- Doing games or puzzles that stimulate the brain such as crosswords, Sudoku, brain teasers, or logic games.
- Reading for fun – yes, for fun! Choose a book on a topic you enjoy, but haven’t explored recently, or a book you found difficult to understand in previous years such as the classics we all had to read in high school. You can incorporate the social wellness dimension by joining a local book club meeting once a week.
- Learn new words by downloading a Word of the Day app, then try using those words in conversations.
- Many people enjoy debating about more than politics, so don’t be shy to start asking questions. This is a great area for both personal growth and intellectual wellness. Consider choosing the opposite viewpoint to the one you hold and making a case for it in a debate with a friend – keep it lighthearted to start. This allows you to focus your attention on ideas and thoughts that are different than the ones you normally think about and therefore forces you to see other viewpoints and understand them.
- Take a class – it’s an excellent way to stimulate your mind. Most public colleges allow people to audit their classes, which means you can attend for information rather than a grade. Contact the admissions office or a specific department at your local community college or university to see what their rules are what is available to you. You can learn about things that interest you without the pressure of studying for midterms.
- Read research articles on topics you find fascinating, but haven’t been able to study much. Many different academic journals exist for the purpose of publishing research on various topics. Google “Journal of” and then the topic you’re interested in and the appropriate journals will generally appear. If you find it difficult to understand the materials, read the abstracts. They will give you the gist of the research.
- Consider learning a foreign language or the customs of another country. If you’ve always loved a culture or country, dive into learning the language or the customs. Study the society and make plans to visit the place and live as the locals do. There are many free mobile apps that provide basic language courses and track your progress that you work through the lessons. If you pick up some Spanish or Italian, there might even be an authentic restaurant in your area that you can visit and test your skills.
Gaining and maintaining intellectual wellness will keep the brain stimulated and stave off boredom and loneliness, as well as allow you to experience new and exciting activities throughout your life. The brain is like any other muscle in our body, it needs to be exercised to do its best work!