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Ways to keep your brain busy in Winter

Winter Hobbies for Brain Health

Winter can effect our mood and motivation a lot, and with this year’s lockdown rolling on and on, people are left feeling more flat than ever.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of hobbies which can help boost our mood. There’s evidence that certain hobbies can boost our mood and these are the ones which won’t only get you away from a boxset binge, they’ll make you feel happier and more relaxed. 

Here are five mood-boosting activities to give a try this winter:

Learn a Musical Instrument

There is a whole area of research dedicated to how music affects your brain, it’s called neuromusicology and we’ve blogged on this here.

Research shows that no matter what instrument is chosen, overall brain function is improved. It allows us to strengthen the corpus callosum, which is a thick band containing a bundle of nerve fibres that links both halves of the human brain

Chess

Chess and other brain-games challenges the brain and stimulates the neurons to form connections across the brain, more connections mean that neural communication within the brain becomes faster at an optimal state. Chess is an ideal example of how interaction with people can stimulate neural connections and we’ve blogged about this here.

Painting

A review from Harvard School Medical School concluded that ‘creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances’. 

Painting allows you to express your feelings on the page for a cathartic release, but being absorbed in the art can stop overthinking and help you switch off. 

We’ve blogged on the power of creativity and its positive effect on brain health in this blog post.

Writing

Journaling has become a super popular mental health tool recently, with studies showing that it’s effective at reducing mental distress. 

And of course there are other forms of writing and can you can be creative by writing short stories or poems has also been shown to be therapeutic, allowing you to deal with negative emotions and support a more positive mood.

Walking

If you’ve had your fair share of duvet days then getting out for a walk is an absolute must! The duvet might feel more appealing than the great outdoors when winter rolls around, but getting outside can do wonders for your mood. Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier and if you can walk at a briskly pace it can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier. A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise. 

There are a number of platforms you can subscribe to for educational courses on a range of topics from candle-making to crochet, learning to speak Swahili or the art of sewing. Udemy is one of our favourites. Have fun whatever you choose to learn!

Keep Well

Dr Clara Russell