By Dina Halaseh,

Educational Psychologist

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The year 2020 has been a challenging year for most of us. As a brain trainer, here are my 20 brain-boosting tips to end 2020 with and get a head start on 2021!

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1. Reading

Reading stimulates the brain and keeps it active, so let’s read something every day. Even if only a few pages.

I recommend reading self-help books, Family Flavours magazine,  novels, short stories or any book you can learn from

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2. Less media and television exposure

Too much media usage might be an enormous barrier to learning so many new things. We often find ourselves scrolling through social media or binging on one episode after the other of a show and not really doing anything with our brains. Watch out from making this a long-term habit and make sure you set a time limit for yourself

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3. Jigsaw puzzles

Puzzles help you build and strengthen many connections in your brain and they are a fun way to spend your free time. So let’s think of picking up a challenging puzzle!

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4. Music

Music has a positive effect on your brain and will surely help increase many mental skills and also have a de-stressing impact! So let’s get down to it and learn a new instrument, play new songs or memorise the lyrics of our favourite songs. You can even try to make up a song with your children

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5. Sports

To ensure a healthy brain, one needs to invest in a healthy body! Exercising for at least 20 minutes a day is a good start. Sports are known to increase the blood flow to your brain

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6. De-stressing

One of the biggest enemies of our brain is stress, so ensure that you spend the time de-stressing and doing something you love. Stress fogs up the brain; you need to learn how to manage your emotional and social situations in a way to help lower your stress levels and allow for clarity. Meditation, yoga and exercise can help do that

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7. Memory games and memorisation

To ensure training your memory and staying sharp, try repetition. Whenever we repeat information, we are building stronger connections in our brain as well as strengthening existing ones. This helps keep your memory highly active. You can also try to use mnemonics, a tool that helps us remember specific facts or large amounts of information, such as an idea or phrase with a pattern of letters, numbers or relatable associations

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8. Trying new things

Mastering something new is the number one exercise for the brain. Whenever we try something challenging and practice it enough for it to become easy, we are training our brains and becoming smarter. We build new connections and strengthen older ones each time we try. When we finally master it, these connections are there to be used anytime for other things and new situations!

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9. Healthy food

Just like sports, eating healthy is not only good for your body but also your brain! Staying away from processed food and sugar is very important to help maintain a healthy body and mind

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10. Journaling

Organising your thoughts on paper and expressing them is vital to growth and learning. Spending some time every day to reflect and write has been shown to improve decision making and critical thinking

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11. Learning a new language

I always say this and I always will! Put some time and effort into learning a new language, no matter how old you are. Even if you don’t master that language, you have still trained your brain

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12. Drawing, painting, getting creative 

Being smart doesn’t just mean getting good grades or testing well. Spending time discovering new talents and trying out new things such as drawing and painting can boost your creativity and help increase it

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13. Spending time with smart people

You may have heard the adage: “Birds of a feather flock together” – you can tell a lot about people by knowing the company they keep. Make sure you spend time with those that get your perspective, discuss new ideas, encourage healthy habits and foster positive relationships

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14. Playing brain games

Spending some time playing brain games, even if they’re on your smartphone, is an excellent exercise for your brain. Challenge yourself to try to improve and see how that helps!

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15. Building something on your own

It might seem silly, but following instructions, visualising the final product, planning and executing requires effort. All of which lead you to use your brain. Try to come up with creative projects to do with your children like building a bench or a birdhouse

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16. Spending some quiet time alone 

We tend to run around all day and try to fit everything into our schedule. We rarely have the time to think about our goals, our mistakes, our aspirations or what we need to do to get to where we want to be. Make it a habit to sit with yourself and think.

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17. Making mistakes and learning from them

No one can go through life without making mistakes. While some mistakes might be bigger than others, the goal is always to learn and move forward. Therefore, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and letting your children see that   

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18. Learning The Power of Yet!

Whenever you find yourself telling yourself that you can’t do something, follow it up with yet. I can’t do it YET! Allow the power of yet to transform the words you say to yourself

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19. Focusing on quality and never on quantity

Put 100 per cent in everything you do, even in the silliest things. Sooner or later, the 100 per cent becomes a habit and you find yourself striving for more

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20. Training your brain

If you are looking for a permanent brainpower boost, try going for professional brain training at centres that can help rewire your brain and increase those skills you’re looking to boost