As the cold nights draw in and the days get shorter, you might find your will power to be productive and proactive doing much the same thing. As soon as you bowl through the door, body battered and beaten by the outside’s bluster, it can be all too tempting to slip into your PJs and settle into a night of watching T.V and doing not much else. This attitude may offer comfort, but in turn brings about a sluggishness, both of the mind and body. Well, we here at IDEAL say it’s time to banish this mentality. If you are to spend the evening in – safe, warm and cosy – then these activities will keep your brain sharp and focused. So, here are 5 IDEAL activities to exercise your brain without leaving the sofa this winter.

Do a Daily Crossword

Crosswords come in all shapes and sizes, from easy to difficult, slow to quick and clear to cryptic. What they all have in common, though, is their ability to keep the mind fresh and focused, by extending our logistical and literacy skills. They can also teach us new terms – an added bonus – which you can deploy the next day in the office to much adulation from peers at your new found eloquence. We’ve found the most reward comes from sticking to one, daily, as it’s easy to lose focus and move on to a new crossword if the answers don’t immediately become obvious. Patience and perseverance are key.

Try a Jigsaw Puzzle

No we don’t mean a twenty-pice Thomas the Tank Engine affair. We’re talking an absolute juggernaut, intricate and infuriating in equal measure; a picture of an old warship or view of a castle in Germany, for instance. If scientific studies are to believed, jigsaw puzzles serve to exercise both sides of the brain, giving logic a workout whilst at the same time taking your creative, emotional side for a jog around the park. If all of this turns out to be cobblers, at least you’ll have a half finished pretty picture taking up all your kitchen’s table-room at the end of your efforts. 

© Pexels

Sharpen Up Your Chess Skills

Prefer to unleash the King’s Gambit or lean more heavily on the Sicilian Defence Dragon’s Variation? If you’re flummoxed by this obscure terminology, it might be time to sharpen up those chess skills. Not only is the great black-and-white board game good for logical thinking, planning skills and foresight, it’s also super relaxing and peaceful. Although we prefer paying lip service to tradition with an ancient board and carefully hand-crafted pieces (note: it looks sophisticated as a living room centre piece), you can also download apps which pit you against players from all corners of the globe; sociable too then, yet another string to chess’ bow.

Download a Brain Training App

The claims of how beneficial they are may be bold, and the validity still under question, but brain training apps have taken off massively in recent years. It’s suggested they can help everything from boosting memory to alleviating symptoms of schizophrenia all very noble causes, indeed. Most popular (and advantageous)  in the more elderly age group, these apps can, at the very least, keep a sometimes under-stimulated and lonely mind occupied. So, if your grandma has played enough online bingo at New UK Casinos for one day, steer her in the direction of Brain Jog and other similar apps.

© Pixabay

Learn a Musical Instrument

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing, the emotions soaring and the memory sharpened, quite like the learning of a musical instrument. The benefits are endless: there’s enhanced hand-eye coordination; a lowering of the heart rate; a boost in relaxation; improved cognitive function; memory training through rehearsing and practice; it can be super-sociable or introspective; and it’s just downright fun. Truly, this list really could go on forever, but rather than typing, we’re keen to get back to playing our guitar, and you should too.

Whichever way you choose to keep your brain active this winter, please remember, it’s your most vital organ, so do your best not to neglect it – happy brain training everybody!


Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.