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Don’t let your brain lockdown

4 Arrowsmith Principles to help you stay sharp during isolation

Our brains carry enormous responsibility in our lives. A healthy brain needs sleep, exercise, good nutrition, stimulation, and a social network. So what can we do during these COVID times, when everyday activities like going to school, work, or the gym are impossible?

Through an Arrowsmith lens, there is a lot we can do. While the most direct path to a stronger brain is a cognitive program, Arrowsmith’s fundamentals could be used by anyone to stay cognitively healthy.


Arrowsmith Principle #1

NOVELTY: Your brain likes fresh experiences.

Picking up that dog-eared crossword puzzle? Making the same recipe that you’ve made every week? Your brain is bored! Essential to keeping your brain alert and active is ensuring it is being introduced to new materials, new opportunities, and new challenges. Create an at-home bucket list and get started.


Arrowsmith Principle #2

ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: take 10,000 hours to become a world-class expert.

Schedule daily brain activities. Make it a priority in your day. Try to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes a day and stay with it for several months. This will increase the chances of you benefiting from your efforts, and you will notice tasks become easier as you go! Which leads you to Principle #3.


Arrowsmith Principle #3

EFFORTFUL PROCESSING: Mastering your destiny

If the task is too easy, you (and your brain) won’t be stimulated; if it’s too difficult, you’ll feel discouraged and won’t persevere. Create incremental steps of mastery within your activities starting at a level just slightly beyond what you can do with ease. Don’t start at the Expert level of the online game – first master the intro levels. Memorizing poetry? Start with Shel Silverstein and work up to Shakespeare. Want to master crosswords? Start with one from a children’s book and continue mastering puzzles until you reach the New York Times weekend edition.


Arrowsmith Principle #4

DIFFERENTIATED STIMULATION: Keep your eye on the target

This is a common concept applied in physical fitness: “leg day” at the gym, or a focused core workout. To extend this to brain training –dissect an activity into parts, and focus on just one for that whole session. Practice just your minor guitar chords for example, or repeat a challenging knitting stitch. Become a master in specific detail of skill, and build from there.


Further ideas of activities to keep your mind and body active

Here are some final ideas of activities to keep your mind and body active, especially during these unusual times at home. We hope you try some of them! Your brain will thank you.

  • Yoga and Meditation are terrific for cognitive, emotional, and physical health

  • New skills might include learning a second language; musical instrument, woodworking; Rubik’s cube!

  • Action video games can be good ways to train alertness, speed, and navigation skills

  • Logic games and puzzles can be found online, books, or board games like chess or Risk

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
Post by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
June 8, 2020
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young is the international best-selling author of The Woman Who Changed her Brain, and a pioneer in using neuroplasticity to change the brain, cognition, learning and social-emotional well-being of learners worldwide. Though she began life with severe learning disabilities, she built herself a better brain and developed the Arrowsmith Program, which has helped thousands to increase their capacity to learn.