4 Ways to Cultivate Intellectual Wellness

“One of the secrets of life is to keep our intellectual curiosity acute”  – William Lyon Phelps

In our modern lives, there are so many things to keep track of: making healthy mealsbeing physically active, staying on top of things at work, making sure the kids are doing well in school and about a million other chores to do. Feeding your intellectual curiosity and creativity easily falls to the bottom of your list. Maintaining intellectual wellness doesn’t seem like it is as important as your physical health but, it’s a crucial part of your mental health and overall well-being. Here are 4 easy ways to cultivate intellectual wellness:

1. Read

It’s a sad fact that over a quarter of American adults don’t read a single book after they leave college. Reading is known to have many benefits including improvement in memory, vocabulary growth and increase in the capacity to empathize with others. Reading can inform you, make you think and question your preconceived notions, help you connect with a character or engage you as you try to predict the twist ending. All of these things feed the mind and nurture your intellectual curiosity.

2. Explore

Not all learning experiences come from books. Sometimes it takes interaction with the world around you to stimulate your mind. There are plenty of ways to boost your intellectual curiosity without spending all day at the library: you can go to a museum, go on a nature walk, see an educational movie or simply explore a place you have never been to before. Road trip, anyone?

3. Create

The arts often get stereotyped as less “intellectual” than science or math but being able to create does wonders for both your intellectual and mental health. Similar to the positive effects of reading, being creative is known to improve memory retention as well as emotional stability. Our emotions can be a solitary experience. Art helps bring a physical representation to those emotions which allows others to share in that same emotional experience. This can very therapeutic whether or not you are someone living with a mental health disorder.

4. Do the Opposite

Ever feel stuck in a rut–doing the same thing day in and day out? Then, take advice from Seinfeld’s George Costanza and do the opposite of what you normally do. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or seeing a movie you normally wouldn’t be interested in. Often, we can be too judgmental or too set in our ways to give something new a try. If you tend to jam-pack your schedule with events and activities, try scheduling in some quiet time at home. If you are more of a homebody, try something more adventurous that you normally wouldn’t do. You never know what you might discover if you start making yourself get out of your comfort zone.

Veronique Hoebeke, Associate Editor

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Originally published by Bridget Hoffmann at mcwell.nd.edu on October 07, 2016.