This spring a team of Family and Consumer Science Educators from around the state are promoting a variety of wellness topics in the form of an e-mail challenge. I have found several of them very interesting and the following information was shared by my colleague from Fairfield County, Shannon Carter. She and I are on several teams together and Shannon loves to teach Mindfulness, Resource management and building strong relationships. While we often speak of nutrition or even financial wellness, but how many of us think about Intellectual Wellness?
Shannon shares, “Intellectual wellness means keeping our minds flexible, informed, and engaged. When we work toward being intellectually well, we are engaging our creative abilities and finding ways to expand our knowledge and skills. Intellectual wellness can be developed through personal and professional pursuits, cultural experiences, community service, and hobbies. As intellectual wellness expands, we may interact with diverse cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints, which can help our thinking to become more creative and open-minded”. How can we do this?
What are you curious about? Children are naturally curious, but sometimes we lose that trait as we become adults. Curiosity can help us improve intellectual wellness by motivating us to try new things and develop an understanding of how we see others and our environment, according to Shannon. When we open ourselves to new ideas, knowledge, skills, and experiences that allows us to explore, problem solve and think more critically and creatively. This trait not only encourages lifelong learning but can help children and adults both develop new hobbies and adventures.
Just as we exercise to keep physically well, we can exercise our minds to stay intellectually well. Exercising our mind increases cognitive capacity and improves overall health and happiness. What are some of things you enjoy doing to keep your mind stimulated? Here’s a list that you might review for something to get started:
Learn a new skill- anything from knitting to playing a musical instrument or even gardening with the spring weather upon us.
Learn a foreign language- there are easy lessons online or seek out instructors from the local high schools or colleges in our community.
Pick up a new hobby or teach someone, one of yours—Do you sew, cook, do woodworking, engine repair or have a passion for a niche topic that you’d like to share?
Play a board game or card game- this is something the whole family can be involved in, and all ages can benefit from the experience.
Don’t have family around?... try crossword, word searches, or sudoku puzzles. These keep the brain thinking and analyzing possibilities.
Read- for fun or for personal improvement, join a book club a Bible study or other groups at the local community centers or libraries.
Where haven’t you been that you want to go? Traveling is a great way to increase our intellectual wellness whether it’s a local day trip or destination across the nation. Reading about, planning and making preparations help keep us mentally stimulated.
Finally, just be active. Walking, hiking, biking, or playing your favorite sport is a way to keep both our minds and our bodies toned and in great shape.
Any of the above can be mentally stimulating and help to lower our risk for dementia or memory loss as we age. Some scientists suggest that by integrating some of the “brain games” they may help the brain become more adaptable in some mental functions so compensation can be made for age related changes as the body and mind changes. They also caution that that claims of playing certain games or spending time doing specific things may not be accurate as there’s currently not enough research data to back up those claims.
Spring is a great time to put time into thinking about how to improve intellectual wellness for you and your loved ones, where would you like to start?
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.