There’s nothing like a little vacation to make your mind feel as if it’s fizzling out and sloooooooowing down. Over the last couple of days I’ve been getting a little R&R. While my trip has done its job to help relieve the stress of daily life, I sort of feel like my brain is softening like a stick of butter left out in a too-warm room. I completely forgot to bring the book I bought to read at the beach, I was too cheap (and budget conscious) to pick up magazines at the airport, and my phone has a list of music preloaded on it that is lamer than I care to admit. Needless to say, I’ve been getting a little restless.
I feel as though the older I get, the quicker I get bored in my downtime. The other morning, I retreated into the lobby to fire up my computer with the sole purpose of researching brain games and apps I could download to my phone. I was looking for interesting ways to pass the time, relax, and work out my brain to keep it sharp and working well.
It might sound crazy, but I feel that practicing mind games with memory strengthening apps helps improve my financial critical decision making. When I play these games over and over, I practice considering my actions more carefully and not acting rashly. In turn, this helps me manage my money better, make better decisions for the long-term, and anticipate problems before they arrive. They help exercise more control and power over the things in my life that are most important — money being one of them.
Below, I’ve rounded up ten great apps that I’ve been playing around with over the last week (I had already used some of them before), which everyone can use to keep their mind focused and engaged. While there are definitely times when I want to zone out and think of nothing but the sound of the water, sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out if I sit still for too long. These apps will certainly act like a pick-me-up for your brain, and clear some of the post-vacation fog away!
Lumosity (iOS, Android)
After hearing the commercial for this app on NPR so many times, I finally caved in and tried it. This app allows you to choose your areas of improvement (for me it was nearly every area heh), and creates custom games to help you achieve goals. You can work on face/name recognition, having a longer attention span, and developing a faster, sharper memory. All good things! The interface is really nicely designed as well, which makes using this app a joy.
This game is ~clinically proven~ to improve you attention, speed, decision-making, reaction time and memory. This app is backed by science, and has been tested by large institutions where it’s been shown to work in large studies. You can download and use the app for free, or pay for more advanced subscription services.
Mind Games (Android, iOS here)
Sure, the interface looks medieval, but this app offers a wide variety of fun games that allow you to relax and work your mind at the same time. It offers 17 games at 180 levels, and offers enough stimulation to keep your brain working and your mind sharp.
Sudoku (iOS, Android here)
Who doesn’t love the thrill that only winning a game of Sudoku can provide?! This game is one of the most popular logic puzzle games of all time. The goal is simple — fill a 9×9 grid with numbers so that each row, column and 3×3 section contain all of the digits between 1 and 9. This game certainly forces you to focus and sharpens your ability to solve problems.
Math vs. Brain (iOS)
A great app to exercise your brain. I always loathed math in school, and I dismissed it as something I wasn’t good at. It’s a shame, because math teaches problem solving and numbers which in invaluable helpful in terms of managing your finances (which I’m all about nowadays at TFD). This question solving game provides you with the change to strengthen those critical skills and keep your brain sharp as a tac!
Complete Memory Trainer (Android)
Complete Memory Trainer allows you to focus on four main areas of improvement: short-term memory, working memory, visual memory, and spatial memory. For someone like me, whose main area of focus is being able to recall relevant information quickly, this app is a perfect way to improve on-the-go.
CogniFit Brain Trainer (iOS)
CogniFit Trainer is a neat app, because it learns from you as you make your way through the games and challenges. It tracks your progress and offers you feedback based on your individual cognitive needs. It displays your performance in the same way a fitness app would. It gives you daily goals to meet, connects you to health tip hashtags, and displays your cognitive profile in a fun infographic way.
GO (Android, iOS here)
This app is a game that is addictive as hell and will suck you in fast. It’s an ancient game that is rich in strategy and has simple rules. The objective is to surround a larger total area of the board with one’s stones than your opponent has by the end of the game. It’s not too difficult to learn, and the first time I played it I was pleasantly surprised that I could get through a whole session. I’ve only ever played the board game version, but the mobile app allows you to take Go in your pocket, and well, on the go.
Eidetic (iOS, Android similar here)
Ever have trouble remembering a phone number? A series of numbers? A code or password combination? The Eidetic app helps you practice pattern recognition so that you can learn and remember strings of numbers. I’ve sat with a blank stare in front of my online bank account login screen too many times. It’s time for me to take back my brain power, and practicing with number memory games can help do just that.
Duolingo (iOS, Android here)There are so many benefits to learning a different language, and this app helps you master a second language. It’s a lot cheaper than Rosetta Stone, and it fits in your pocket. Every lesson is free, and the app is well designed and easy to use. It won iPhone’s app of the year, and promises to make learning a second language a real possibility.
For more traditional board games that work your mind, check out the links below! My favorites are Risk, Scrabble, and Settlers of Catan. While nearly every game has an app version nowadays, it can be nice to play games with groups of friends IRL without needing access to internet or a power source.