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If you’re open to learning, you’re already on the right path!

The idea of achieving wellness means having an overarching goal to improve your overall well-being. Typically, we think of wellness in terms of our bodies by trying to eat healthy foods, get exercise and so on. Mental health wellness is also a common goal—we often hear about the benefits of going to therapy, meditating, journaling and getting fresh air.

But not always as buzzworthy (but just as important) is another form of wellness: intellectual wellbeing. Here’s the lowdown on what intellectual wellness is, why it’s important for a successful life, and how you can incorporate stimulating mental activities to stay actively engaged in your life to keep your brain active. 

What is intellectual health and wellness?

Almost all wellness activities are proactive, not reactive. Instead of fixing a problem when it arises, the idea of wellness promotes continually working to improve yourself. It’s not about achieving your own ideas of perfection or meeting an unattainable benchmark. Rather, it’s more about taking care of your whole self and continually expanding your potential. 

Intellectual wellness is a devotion to lifelong learning and a desire to think critically. Working on yourself intellectually is a vital tool you can use to expand your current skills and knowledge to develop new expertise, become more creative and work on your critical thinking and problem solving skills. 

Intellectual wellness is the opposite of boredom and brain atrophy—by continually learning, you’re keeping your brain fresh and spry. 

Why is intellectual wellness important?

Just as you might exercise to keep your muscles strong and promote physical wellness, doing various activities to promote intellectual wellness keeps your mind strong. 

There are a number of reasons why working to improve intellectual wellness is a worthy goal. Here are just a few of them:

Intellectual wellness deepens your critical thinking abilities 

When you work on boosting your brain power, you’re better able to think through complex issues, whether you’re at home, in school participating in a study group session, or at work. 

You’ll have a stronger ability to see all sides of a given issue or problem—meaning that intellectual wellness strengthens your problem solving abilities as well—and you can better understand other people’s opinions and views too! 

If you’re a student, working on intellectual wellness is important for developing good study skills and being able to increase your ability to retain new knowledge, as well as process that knowledge in meaningful ways. 

what is intellectual wellness
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Intellectual wellness improves your time management skills

Being able to think critically spills over into your managerial skills, particularly time management and self-organization. Thinking more clearly can help you reason through getting projects done in a timely manner and may even help you with procrastination when you can clearly see the benefits of not leaving your work until the last minute. 

Intellectual wellness promotes gaining new knowledge

People who never stop learning tend to be more interesting, and younger-seeming, than people who are stuck in their ways and refuse to let in new ideas and perspectives. When you continually learn and process new information, you’re not only becoming more interesting and thoughtful, you’re helping your brain stay young. 

Intellectual wellness leads to clearer communication

Part of intellectual health is being able to speak clearly to others, especially when you’re trying to understand each other or resolve a conflict. When you maintain intellectual wellness, you’re more connected to your thoughts and you have a heightened ability to think critically. 

This makes you more open to new ideas and perspectives and allows you to better express your own thoughts and feelings more succinctly. 

Intellectual wellness helps you develop your own opinions

When you develop your critical thinking skills and stay curious about the world, you’re better able to analyze different perspectives and develop your own opinions, views and ideas. 

Practicing deeper thinking allows you to put your brain to work when you need to form an opinion about a given issue or problem. It’s also helpful during the decision making process so you can feel confident about the choices you make. When you can fully process ideas and information clearly, you can develop a strong perspective that’s uniquely your own. 

Ways to improve intellectual wellness

Ready to give your brain a workout? The following actions increase intellectual wellness and can help you become more mentally strong. 

Some of these ideas are leisure activities that you might already do—if so, you’re already well on your way toward achieving intellectual wellness. If not, these ways to improve intellectual wellness are easy to incorporate into your life, even if you have little time to spare. 

Play brain-boosting games

Stimulating mental activities, from brain teaser apps to board games can help you keep your brain functioning well. When you play with other people, you’re also bringing in a social aspect and, since humans are social animals, playing with others also increases intellectual wellness. 

Puzzles are another great way to maintain intellectual wellness, whether you work on a rubik’s cube or put together a 1,000 piece traidational puzzle. Just doing a few minutes a day of games and puzzles can give your brain a boost. 

Read

Reading is an easy way to improve intellectual wellness. Take time every day, even just five minutes, to read for fun. You might read a few pages of a motivational book in the morning when you drink your coffee. Or a newsletter from a blogger you admire during your lunch break. Or you could tuck in with a literary fiction book before going to sleep at night. 

Whatever you choose, reading is far more brain expansive than scrolling social media or zoning out to a TV show. While both of those activities have their place in helping you relax and unwind, there’s nothing like a good book to stimulate your brain and help you learn something new. Community activities like book clubs and author readings can further enhance your reading experiences and deepen your knowledge.

Try new things

When you do something new, you increase your brain’s neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s capacity to evolve and change as you experience life. Your brain will continue to change throughout your life, but giving your brain new material allows it to regularly adapt and grow, even rewire itself. 

Neuroplasticity lets the brain function at a higher level and become even stronger. Whether you try a new hobby or learn a new skill, trying new things is a major way you can increase intellectual wellness. 

Learn a foreign language

Speaking of new skills, learning a new language is a super brain boosting activity.  When you learn a new language, you actually create changes in your brain’s anatomy, which includes reshaping your functional neural patterns, contributing to neuroplasticity. 

While it might take longer the older you are (since neuroplasticity decreases with age), learning a new language is a worthy endeavor, especially if you love to travel to a certain country or want to feel more connected to your heritage. 

Be creative

Whether you consider yourself a DIY expert or a totally non-creative person, anyone, at any level of creative experience, can find a way to harness their inner artist. Writing, drawing, dancing, cooking, mixing cocktails, upcycling old furniture—there’s something for everyone when it comes to making art

intellectual wellness examples
(blackCAT / Getty)

Being creative gives your brain a chance to play. Participating in various creative leisure activities will only bring you closer to achieving intellectual wellness. These activities also give you a necessary break from work and computer time, allowing for a chance to let your brain play and explore new possibilities. 

Make time for self-reflection

Processing thoughts and emotions helps you achieve intellectual wellness and helps you be a better human in general. When you’re more self-aware, you can promote inner growth, learn more about yourself and others, boost your confidence and gain necessary perspective. 

Knowing yourself is an important facet of achieving and maintaining intellectual wellness. When you can understand your brain and how you think and feel, you can be more at peace with yourself and the world around you. 

Take care of your body

Your brain resides in the human shell that is your body. When you take care of yourself by eating nourninsing foods, limiting vices like alcohol, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly, you are taking care of your entire body, including your mind. 

You need good food and sleep to function and you need movement to help your body process stress and emotional weight, not to mention give you a healthy dose of feel good hormones. When you take good care of yourself, you’re doing your part to increase your intellectual wellness by giving yourself a solid foundation. 

Boost your brain power

No matter how you choose to work on your intellectual wellness, chances are you’re doing a few things already that are helping your mind function at an optimal level. 

Continue to be curious about new activities and ideas, giving yourself the opportunity to increase that all too important  neuroplasticity. This will help you feel younger, no matter what your age may be, and allow you to live life a little more fully. 

Intellectual wellness is just one part of creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself. But it’s not about getting to a certain destination or meeting strict benchmarks. When you have an attitude that’s open to learning, you’re already on the right path.