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Fun Ways to Keep Your Mental Skills Sharp

Many people are seeking ways to stay mentally active and develop sharper memories, cognitive functioning, and thinking skills. This applies both to young people who are seeking to have better mental acuity as well as to older people who are trying to retain their mental sharpness as they age. For people of all ages, staying mentally sharp, focused, and having good mental health can bring a variety of benefits from having clearer thinking to being more relaxed and even lowering future risk of dementia. Here are some effective and interesting ways to stay mentally sharp and improve your thinking skills:

Crossword Puzzles

One good way to keep your brain sharp and to stay mentally active is by solving crossword puzzles. These puzzles can help to challenge your vocabulary, general knowledge, and problem-solving skills. They can also be a great way to pass the time and stay busy while waiting for appointments, during airplane rides, and as an alternative to watching television or scrolling through social media. They’re available in newspapers, puzzle books, and online platforms in various skill levels and on many different topics.


Sudoku puzzles require logic and planning, but even though they use numbers, no calculations are required. Instead, the puzzles are about number placement within a grid and making use of logic skills. This makes sudoku an excellent way to develop more logical thinking, focus, and cognitive clarity. Because some sudoku puzzles are very difficult to solve and there is a bit of a learning curve before you will be able to tackle harder puzzles, it’s a good idea to start with easier levels and gradually work up to more challenging ones. They can be harder than they look!

Brain Teasers

One way to break out of your mental rut and learn to think in more creative ways is by working on brain teasers. When you engage in brain teasers like riddles, logic puzzles, and lateral thinking challenges, your brain is forced to think in new and different ways. These puzzles require you to think creatively and consider multiple perspectives in order to solve them, and in many cases, kids are better at them than adults because they are less set in their ways! 

Another form of brain teaser puzzle involves wooden or metal contraptions that look impossible to solve, such as removing metal rings that appear to be securely attached, building certain shapes out of wooden blocks, or unlocking secret boxes. These puzzles require both cognitive out-of-the-box thinking as well as spatial reasoning and usually, a lot of experimentation. Many people find these puzzles exasperating while others enjoy the challenge. Once you know the secret, many are very simple to solve.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a fun and satisfying way to pass the time for many people. While these puzzles can take a long time to solve, the process can be soothing and mentally stimulating for many people. Assembling jigsaw puzzles can help to enhance your visual-spatial reasoning and attention to detail. If you want to try this, choose puzzles with varying levels of difficulty and choose themes or pictures that interest you or you find stimulating. You can also consider trying 3D puzzles for a greater challenge and more interest.

Memory Games

Consider trying memory games that involve remembering and matching patterns, such as card-matching games or online memory exercises. These activities may help to improve your short-term memory and concentration. Many memory-based games are now available as apps and can be a good way to stay sharp while also passing time waiting for appointments or other situations when you might ordinarily scroll social media or daydream.

Strategy Games

Strategy-based board games like chess or checkers are fun and good for your cognitive skills. These games require planning, critical thinking, and decision-making skills which can help keep your mental focus sharp and keep your brain engaged and thinking. These kinds of games are also a great way to have fun and enjoy being with friends and family. There are also many card games that involve strategy and focus which can be a fun way to pass the time without needing the space it takes to set up a board game. 

Learn a New Skill

One great way to stay mentally sharp is to acquire a new skill or hobby that challenges your brain, such as playing a musical instrument, painting, or learning a new language. These activities stimulate different areas of your brain and promote continuous learning. In fact, learning new skills is one of the best ways to develop new brain connections and will help your mental function in many other areas such as mental health, focus, and memory. Plus, learning new skills can be beneficial in other ways like helping you to be more independent, giving you new hobbies, helping you to stay physically active, and giving you new ways to make money.

Reading and Mental Stimulation

One of the best ways to encourage your brain to stay sharp is to keep using it the way you always have. Stay interested in learning new things and make sure you are always challenging yourself. You can read books, articles, or blogs on topics that interest you, but you can also try new topics and develop new interests, which is a good way to stay mentally active, increase your mental sharpness, and improve your mental health. Engaging in intellectual discussions, attending lectures, or participating in book clubs can also provide mental stimulation. Many people also enjoy attending adult education classes to help them stay mentally active and social at the same time.

Physical Exercise

Finally, staying active can help your brain in unexpected ways. Regular physical exercise has been shown to benefit cognitive function, improve memory, and reduce your risk of dementia. Physical activity can also help protect you against mental health concerns and help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Activities like walking, running, dancing, or practicing yoga are good ways to stay active and make physical exercise a regular, routine part of your life. If you enjoy being outside, you can get even more benefits if you partake in outdoor activities like hiking, walking in greenspaces, and paddle sports.


The best way to stay mentally sharp, improve your short and long-term memory, and improve your mental health is to challenge yourself with activities that are enjoyable and suit your interests. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle with a mix of mental, physical, and social engagement is important for optimal brain health and the best long-term success.

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