The brain needs exercise just like any other part of the body. Neglecting to put your gray matter through mental hurdles now and then will leave it weak and vulnerable to early onset Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The short of it is this: everyone needs a hobby or two in their lives. More importantly, everyone needs something to keep their brains challenged. The challenge for most working class folks, apart from finding the time, is finding something to do that doesn’t take a bite out of the monthly budget.
For ideas on finding a brain-sharpening hobby on limited income consider the following seven possibilities:
1. Playing chess
It may be called the Game of Kings but we all know the Queen runs the show. It’s never too late to learn what is undoubtedly the most popular board game in human history. Rules of chess are surprisingly easy to grasp yet the possibilities are practically endless as far as how each round will turn out. Play against both computers and people. Don’t think chess clubs are for kids and geeks alone – most cities and towns have a variety of clubs that welcome people of all ages and skill levels. Dues, if applicable at all, are usually waived if you volunteer your time for helping with competitions and other events.
3. Playing a musical instrument
Similar to dusting off that chess set grandma gave you for Christmas 1987, finally trying to put that acoustic guitar you begged for as a teenager to good use is also good for your brain. Finding guitar lessons for beginners, or lessons for whatever instrument you may have in storage, is not as expensive as you may assume. Services provide user ratings of local musical instructors along with price quotes for finding lessons that fit your budget.
Thanks to your local library reading will always be free if you return your books on time and forget about which part of your taxes went to pay for keeping the doors open. Reading books as opposed to shorter, less complex pieces of writing has been proven to do wonders for improving and fortifying mental agility. Not to say blogs like this one don’t have a place in the habits of healthy readers, but committing your brain to hundreds of pages of writing devoted to one central story or theme means developing an abstract framework for days and weeks instead of minutes and hours. Bottom line, this means you walk away with an improved ability to connect real world events with abstract ideas – the trait that makes humans human.
The quality of cameras which come standard with today’s iPhones and leading Android devices are absolutely amazing. Becoming an amateur art photographer has never been easier or more popular, as Instagram and other photo-centric social media services show. With that said, subject is key and the world is waiting for you to make a record of its countless wonders. Learning how to find desirable subjects, whether they be people, places, or things, and framing them for the sake of creating an accomplished image takes great skill. In other words, it requires the sorts of brain focus which count as mental exercise. All the while you’re having fun and not spending a dime unless you run out of phone storage space.
5. Volunteer work
Social interactions are considered central to reducing your chances of developing dementia later in your life. Getting involved with causes and organizations aligned with your beliefs and priorities can not only provide a sense of fulfillment in the form of activity but help make you a better thinker in the long run. Not to mention being a volunteer typically doesn’t involve spending more than your time.
Hobbies come in all forms and range in price from free to more money than we care to mention. Folks on a budget need something to do like anyone else. Likewise we have a responsibility to our brains – the seat of everything that makes us who we are – to maintain their fitness for the duration of our time here on Earth. Combine the two in the form of a cost effective interest like the ones mentioned above. It’s not only something to do, but something to think about.
*This article is brought to you and contributed by an outside author.*