We recently shared a few habits you can integrate within your day-to-day life to improve your brain health. Now, we’d like to bring you another simple trick that you can practice to keep your brain sharp.
The trick comes from neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D., and involves nothing more than using your non-dominant hand to write a new word every day.
“Every single day I learn a new word,” says Willeumier in a MindBodyGreen podcast episode. “And then what I do is I practice writing it with my non-dominant hand.” It’s a fun and simple exercise to train your mind and take you out of your comfort zone — which Willeumier notes is key to staying sharp.
You can start with writing and then progressively begin using your non-dominant hand for other things, such as drinking and brushing your teeth. Although these changes may not seem like much, they encourage your brain to create new, stronger connections between its hemispheres rather than staying complacent. “New learning is about stepping outside of your comfort zone. We like to call it stretching your neurons,” she notes.
Willeumier’s recommendation is also backed by some research that shows the learning benefits of writing with your non-dominant hand. In one study, for instance, right-handed participants set out to draw with their left hands and experienced significant improvements in their abilities with less than 200 minutes of practice, showing the brain’s capacity to reinforce new connections with the body. What’s more, learning a new skill can also help prevent cognitive decline later in life.