Make America Smart Again: Keeping Our Minds Sharp Amid the Pandemic
Stephen King warned us of the horrors of seclusion. Of all
the villains that trap the protagonists in The Shining, Gerald's Game, and In
the Tall Grass, isolation is what ultimately gets them. With loneliness messing
with the mind, the isolated person becomes a threat to everyone, including
themselves. When the pandemic struck, we witnessed these horrors ourselves. Suicide among school children escalated to
alarming rates. Reports of anxiety attacks increased, affecting people of
Aside from putting a strain on our mental health, the
lockdown also impaled our cognition. With hours spent on nothing but mindless
internet surfing while Netflix plays in the background, your brain could
gradually rot without notice.
How Doing Nothing Can Affect Cognition
When news of the quarantine broke, we were like hamsters
left out on the street. We basically didn't know what to do. For a week or so,
everything was on pause.And so, for days, we didn't do anything but sit and
wait around. When bored, instead of picking up a book, many people opted for a
reality show or an online quiz to know which Game of Thrones character they
are. But studies show that our lazy contemporary habits are taking a toll on
In a study on the effects of TV on 276 children, the duration of
their TV viewing predicted a decrease in Verbal Intelligence Quotient (VIQ) a
few years later. The longer they watched, the thicker their frontal lobes
became-a manifestation of lower verbal reasoning ability. If you have the same
habit of playing a mindless show instead of picking up a good book, don't
worry. It's not too late. Here are a few ways you can re-train your mind to its
optimum level again.
1. Learn Music
The discovery of multi-intelligence put a spotlight on the
positive effects of music on cognition. From learning an instrument to simply
listening to music, the results are always promising. Taking piano lessons is a good brain workout.
It increases your motor skills, emotional skills, and even your IQ by a few
points. Additionally, with a multitude of apps to aid your lessons, learning
piano is much easier today.
Six-year-olds who took weekly voice or piano lessons at the
Royal Conservatory Music averaged seven-point gains in their IQ scores. Their
teacher, Canadian composer Glenn Schellenberg said that although small, the
increase was significant because it was "evident across the broad spectrum
of intelligence measured by the Weschler test," a highly regarded measure
of cognitive ability.
In a study where 4,694
volunteers took up a new hobby during the quarantine, the highest IQ
increase came from those who learned a new instrument, with an average increase
of 9.71%.Furthermore, recognizing musical beats improves one's grasp of numbers
and basic math, from fractions to recognizing patterns. Percussion instruments,
like drums and xylophone, are a great way to be more familiar with musical
2. Write a Daily Journal
Like reading, writing can only yield positive effects on
your mind. Expressing your thoughts in a coherent manner can train your brain
to think deeper and more creatively. It improves your focus and attention. By
putting your emotions into words, your mood will improve as well.
The parietal and frontal lobes are stimulated when writing.
The frontal lobe is responsible for motion, judgement, and problem-solving
skills, among others. Meanwhile, the parietal lobe interprets words and
Instead of opening the laptop, try to go old-school with a
pen and paper. Studies have shown that writing by hand is good for the brain.
The mere act of forming shapes and contours with the pen increases neural
activity in similar ways that meditation can. Physicians even advise handwriting as a cognitive exercise for baby
boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.
3. Play with Puzzles
Brainteasers have always kept minds sharp, from yesterday's
bamboo puzzle boxes to today's Rubik's Cube.A thousand-piece landscape puzzle
set can exercise various parts of your brain at once. It engages both the left and right sides of the
brain. While the left side of your brain is using logic to put the pieces in
order, the right side is thinking of creative ways to form the picture faster.
Rubik's Cubes improve your memory and push your visual and spatial reasoning to
Studies have shown how jigsaw puzzles can be a protective factor for cognitive aging. Brain
impairment is one of the inevitable things that come with age. But constantly
working on brainteasers can at least make this process slower.
A Sharp Brain Keeps the Doctor Away
As the head of our body's internal organs, the brain has the
huge responsibility of processing information and stimuli and transmitting
signals to the rest of the body. It's important we give it the daily exercise
it needs to stay fit.