In the previous ‘Brain power‘ post, I discussed the value of mixing up our exercise and activity routines to help our neural network make new connections. Practicing non-dominant activities helps our brain build redundancy into our brain circuitry. Such behaviors may in fact help ward off or reduce the effects of aging and disease. In today’s post I would like to consider the refreshing brain benefits of organizing and re-arranging our living spaces.
Brain researchers have known for some time that organized people perform better on memory tests. Getting organized helps build better memory. The old adage ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ is built on this organization principle. But organization skills do not have to be exorbitant to be helpful. Spending five minutes organizing one’s desk or medicine cabinet can improve efficiency, memory and possibly reduce stress levels too.
A related activity, re-arrangement, also helps our brains strengthen spatial and visual connections. For instance, by re-arranging furniture in your living spaces on an occasional basis, the brain must re-map neural connections to assist us in navigating the new floor space and layout. Something as simple as moving a trash can from one location to another, requires our brains to re-map circuitry (memory and movement) as we must now navigate to a new location to throw away a piece of litter. Taking a different route home (on foot or in our vehicle) provides a similar benefit.
It doesn’t require much, except may a little creativity on our part, to change the scenery in which we reside and navigate. Kitchen cabinets, pantries, desks, counters and backyard walkways all provide ample opportunities for us to challenge and improve our brain’s neural pathways.
Remember, brainpower increases and improves when we build novelty into our regular activity patterns. When we do familiar things in unfamiliar ways we wake up nerve cells which in turn increases blood flow to make these new connections for our brain cells. A little change goes a long way.