If you have a long commute to work in the mornings, mindlessly browsing social media amight be your preferred way to pass the time, but you could be missing out on vital time to boost your brain power.
London-based neuroscientist Dr Liron Jacobson says that our commute is actually the perfect opportunity to give our brains some much-needed exercise.
Dr Liron is Head of Neuroscience and Project Manager at brain-training app Peak, which has received the A-list seal of approval from Selena Gomez.
To coincide with the launch of its latest brain training game she reveals how ditching your phone for knitting or writing in a journal on the bus or train to work can actually help to make you smarter and sharper.
Read on to discover her top five tips for a more productive commute.
Head of Neuroscience and Project Manager at Peak Labs Dr Liron Jacobson has revealed the five steps you can take to improve your mind during your commute. She believes that people currently waste the time they have on public transport (stock image)
Try taking a journal on your commute home and writing about the day. A good place to start is by writing down anything negative that you want to get off your chest, three things you are thankful for and any ‘micro-moments’ where you felt you had a positive interaction with someone, no matter how small.
As well as helping make sense of the day, journaling in this way forces you to pay attention, use your memory and use language creatively. For many of us, these are three skills that directly affect how well we do our jobs every day, so challenging your brain regularly helps us to do these things better.
Learn a new skill
Many of us say that we’d love to learn a new language, get a different qualification or develop a new skill, but never get around to it. So, why not use the hours you spend on your daily commute to actually start doing something about that dream?
Developing new skills helps to strengthen the brain’s neural pathways, and this can make learning future skills easier. So, while you’re having fun learning Italian in preparation of your next holiday, you could actually be preparing your brain so you cope better the next time you have to learn something new in any other area of your life.
Dr Jacobson’s research forms the basis of the app Peak and the company is launching a new brain game called Connect Em Up. Selena Gomez (pictured) is a fan of Peak and recently said it is the only app she has. Pictured is Selena Gomez at WE Day California at the Forum in Inglewood, California
Have a mindful commute
When we talk about meditation it conjures up images of lotus poses on tranquil beaches, but actually, meditation doesn’t even have to be done in a quiet room. Try to practice mindfulness on your commute to work – it is all about taking the time to learn to be more focused on the present moment.
You might always take the same route to work, but try to make your journey a bit different every day. Look out the window and notice details about your surrounding that you wouldn’t have before. Mindfulness exercises have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and are a great way to relax on the way to and from work.
Pick up a relaxing hobby
Practicing a relaxing hobby like knitting is something you now see many people enjoying on the way to and from work.
The good news is that aside from having a nice warm pair of socks to show for your efforts when you’re finished, the rhythmic, repetitive nature of knitting allows you to ‘zone out’ your mind and use muscle memory.
Some people find this as relaxing as meditation, which can help relieve any stress or anxiety from the working day.
The meditative action of a hobby such as knitting can help you feel calmer and clear your mind, leaving you feeling sharper in the long run (stock image)
Challenge your brain with brain training games
If you look around any bus or train carriage in a morning, you’ll see lots of commuters mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, but your smartphone can actually be used for something that you may find more productive.
Brain training apps allow users to do something with their brains that they might not typically do on a daily basis. Our brain is like a muscle, and it responds to what we do with it, so tasks like making numerical calculations in your head or navigating maps using your spatial memory will exercise your brain in a way that just browsing social media will not.
Even Selena Gomez recently revealed that she no longer uses social media apps, and now the only app she has on her phone is the brain training app, Peak.
She told Elle magazine: ‘I haven’t been on the internet in months. I don’t have my password for Instagram. I have no apps on my phone, no photo editing apps. I have Peak, a brain game.’
For more information about Peak’s new brain training game Connect Em Up visit peak.net