Similar to nutrition and religion, I am not necessarily a model to follow when it comes to making great life choices. I mean, I’m getting better at the whole adulting thing for sure, but it’s taken me longer than I’d like to admit to get to this point. So bear that in mind as I launch into another monologue about something I’ve been testing out lately: brain training.
Why I started brain training
Since I started chemo (BTW, years after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and decades after I went on anticonvulsants- what the heck is wrong with me?) I decided to start using crossword puzzles to keep my brain moving even when my body couldn’t (because of the cancer – you know if you follow on social media).
Now, I’d love to say the impetus to start this came from wanting to get healthy, or wanting to stave off decline, but in fact it came from wanting to give my niece an additional Christmas present. She wanted a subscription to the NY Times crossword puzzle app on her phone. I tried it out to see how much the subscription was and became addicted.
I’ll be honest I’ve never been that person who sits down with a pencil (or god forbid a pen) to complete a hard copy of a crossword puzzle. There is a part of me that likes the hints that come with doing it online. I admit I like the safety net. I find it less scary and that means I can use it as a tool to see how I am doing each morning (cognitively that is). This has been especially helpful after surgery while on pain meds.
Expanded to include Wordle
Since starting the NY Times mini crossword, I’ve also started doing Wordle every day. I’m straight up addicted and have no idea how I lived without this for so long. This is a benefit of spending so much time with my cousin this winter. She’s whip-smart and it’s all I can do to keep up with her brain. She introduced me to this amazing game and now I can’t stop. I love hearing about everyone’s different method to get to the same word and how frustrated people (myself included) get when they don’t get the word or miss doing wordle that day!
Does brain training actually work?
This is a heavily debated topic. Currently the UCR Brain Game Center is conducting a study with 30,000 participants to ask this question exactly. To learn more you can read the article in Scientific American here, or you can participate in the study via the link.
Personally, I can tell how my brain is doing by whether or not I was able to complete the crossword or if I was able to complete wordle in a timely fashion or at all.
I would encourage you to try it, but as I said at the top of the article, you do you. It took me a while to get here so take your time.
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Jessica brings a unique perspective to this leading epilepsy blog as she was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teen. She also brings 20+ years experience in marketing.