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Five Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy During the Pandemic

The steps you’re taking to keep yourself healthy during the pandemic — not seeing family and friends, social distancing, and not going to the gym — can actually be detrimental to your brain health.

In a recent article published on, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona says these vital safety measures can create negative neuroplasticity, “the potential to accelerate the risk for cognitive decline.”

Here are five action steps you can take for brain self-care. The main goals are varying the types of thinking you do and the fun you have.

  1. Increase the variety of things you do to challenge your brain. For example, if you love to do crossword puzzles, spend time doing sudoku, a math brain game, instead. Have you done a jigsaw puzzle since you were a child? A 500 or 1,000-piece puzzle can be stimulating. If you usually read fiction, switch to nonfiction for a change. Or try a new format — listen to an audiobook.
  2. Learn something new – a new language, a new musical instrument, learn to dance, or do a new craft project. Free lessons for things you want to learn are easily accessible online via YouTube and other websites. Learning anything new involves concentration, attention, and memory.
  3. Try different ways of socializing. While FaceTime or Zoom aren’t as good as in-person visits, it’s still nicer to see your friends’ and loved ones’ faces rather than only hearing their voices on the phone. It really adds another dimension to communicating. Or you could start on online book club or another hobby group with friends and meet via Zoom.
  4. Incorporate movement into your day. If the word “exercise” turns you off, try to walk briskly 20 minutes per day, do some yoga or tai chi, or put on music and dance around your living room. Heart health impacts brain health, so keep moving.
  5. Participate in online classes and activities. Join AFC’s ZAP (Zoom Activities Program) for fun, brain-engaging sessions and socializing with others safely while at home.

Get creative and make your own Pandemic Bucket List. There are many new ways to have fun while maintaining brain health!


Photo credit:  Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash

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