Staying sharp academically without sudoku.(136 Posts)
MNHQ have commented on this thread.
I'm 35. Im busy, with demanding career, kids yada yada, and I just feel a bit, well, I don't know, is it bored? sluggish of brain? Out of the loop?
Basically, I miss having interesting stuff to learn about/get into.
Part of my problem is a reading drought, I'm just not reading for fun like I used to and I miss it, but I do read some journals like New Scientist and the New Humanist. I do get the odd London Review of Books, but tbh, I've found it a bit impenetrable at times. I'm not hugely cultured (theatre is a huge turnoff for me). I read the news, I'm interested in politics, but still this feeling of brain lethargy persists.
What do you do to stave this off? What can I try?
I'm in a similar position. I do an evening class one evening per week (art) and it just refreshes me for the whole week. other friends of mine do choir or sewing classes or book group for the same effect. you need something that gets you out of the house and talking to people who have no connection to work or kids. It keeps you sane.
I'd agree with Parietal.
Have you tried a book club? May seem like a cliche but it's the absolute highlight of my month, every month.
What's your next step at work? Do you have a mentor?
Could you volunteer for a parliamentary candidate? Maybe some phone calls for them? Having to argue/debate with people could get you feeling
terrified more engaged with life.
Also, have Radio 4 in the background, in the car
Download the 100 objects series here
yy to taking up music, rock up and sing/community choir to start
I do feel a bit stagnant with work, but for lots of reasons, I'm staying where I am progression wise/ job wise for a few years yet. I have been exploring my options a little bit re work, wondering if it's part of the problem.
I did do a book club, but I found the book choices dull. I'm difficult to please! I like books that aren't chick lit, but not terribly highbrow. (Although I do read both, I prefer a weightier book. Iyswim?) and I think the drought isn't helping. I have a stack of books I want to read, so I don't want to read a book that isn't in that pile! Maybe it was the group.
I've started running, but it doesn't help with the intellectual stuff I'm missing.
I have a friend who is a parliamentary candidate. Maybe I should do more for her, great idea meandjulio
Have you looked at Futurelearn courses? All free, really flexible & on a variety of topics. You just sign up on the website, it tells you how many weeks it takes & how long you should spend each week. I'm currently on course 3,4,5 at the same time!
Oh, and what a wonderful link Dandy thank you, I'll get stuck into that for sure!
I'm listening to spoken word podcasts while running - doesn't give you the 'oomph' of music but it's great nonetheless - am devouring Serial at the moment but the 100 objects might be good
My dh struggles to find the right book club as well - try the Radio 4 one - or the Mumsnet one in fact
Try learning a mindfulness based meditation, great for general clarity and sharpness. Helps you notice all sorts of new things about familiar places/objects/tasks/routines that means your life ends up being much more stimulating.
I second the FutureLearn suggestion, am half way through my first course, it is challenging! (but not scarily so- you can engage at a level your comfortable with)
2048 (developing strategies)
Keep a drawing/collage/photo book
Map quizzes online (e.g. lizardpoint)
Anything to do with the Mitfords!
Following something in the news
I like learning things by heart like history dates
I like the Infinite Monkey Cage radio 4 podcasts and the RSA (royal society of arts) podcasts for thinking about new things whilst walking.
cousera is basically the same as future learn but based in america and has hundreds of short courses you can sign up for. some of them you can receive accreditation/validation for as well for a fee
Learn a language that interests you. On top of many books available, plenty have accompanying CDs which could be transferred to iPod etc, or download some free apps until you're sure of which styles suit your learning type
Sorry, RL got in the way!
I laughed out loud at the learning things by heart idea: I'm too obsessive for that, but it's a fabulous idea. And I do love history. How much do you know by heart velour? <did I menion that I can be terribly competitive as well as obsessive>
There are some great ideas here. Thank you all
Watching with interest.....one of my new year promises to myself was to return to reading! I used to read 1-2 books a week easily, but that slid and I was spending too much time internet surfing
I've also enrolled on an evening course that's starting in April, but I'm looking at the futurelearn online courses too.
Learn a new language.
Learn to play an instrument.
Learn all 50 states of the USA and their capitals, it's a challenge!
I like that, learning the states and their capitals. I'm going to do that.
I just feel a bit, dare I say, Midlife crises-ey.
I thnk the ipad helped kill my reading passion and struggling to find stuff I really liked. Ds2 is 2 now, and I have read probably just 3 books in the two years since he was born, compared with the one a week I got through before he came along. That kept me sharp!
DoItTooJulia, look up USA States wood puzzle on the App Store, that's what I used to learn the states and capitals, and I retest myself now and again with this, piki.org/quizzes/usa.html .
Come and join us on the Fifty Books thread, Julia.
Listen to some Ted Talks podcasts, maybe? Some of them are good.
Mumsnet feminist chat.
Definitely second Radio 4 - there are always documentaries about all sorts of fascinating and obscure subjects, and science discussion type programmes (Infinite Monkey Cage, Inside Science, etc), amongst the current affairs/news, afternoon plays and seemingly constant re-runs of The Archers. Just take a look here for some examples of what's available on iPlayer: www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/genres/factual/scienceandnature/player
Full-on Open University courses are expensive these days, but they do lots of shorter free courses and have "taster" segments on their website: www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses
If you like philosophy there's some fabulous podcasts.. Like the History of Philosophy without any Gaps.. It does as it says, taking it up from far in the past with the classics and then onwards. Very good.
Bit more loosely styled and American is the Partially Examined Life. Also very good, most of them about 1.5 to 2 hours on a specific subject or person. In depth, funny at times, very good too.
Philosophy Bites is pretty good too, though I prefer the PEL podcasts... Nigel Warburton however can read me the back of the oatcake packet and I am fascinated..
In Our Time is fabulous for a whole range of things and pretty bite sized. Love Melvyn Bragg, he is great. Almost always has a woman on without being told to by the BBC because it's been like that forever?
Stack The Countries - someone recommended this on here so I got the app and I love - so thank you, whoever you were
Fab thread, following with interest and seeking inspiration. I'm thinking this is the year I need to make some changes and dare I say I put down the iPhone once in a while!
I'd suggest signing up to local museum/gallery mailing lists so you get invitations to private view evenings and get kept up to date with events. Try and go to something once a month perhaps?
Start your own book club if you don't like the one you went to, make it a non fiction one if you like. Start a discussion group.
Radio 4 is brilliant. I don't know where this idea that domesticity is dull came from! Not with radio 4 on it ain't!
I agree Whoishillgirl even the dullest job is ok if listening to something interesting. I've just discovered I can search my kindle purchases to see which can have the audible upgrade. So I can switch between listening and reading. Some are expensive but someone on here recommended Susan Hill's Simon Serallier series and the first one was £2.99 to upgrade. Plus I just listened to Bring up the Bodies, free from the library via my tablet. And then there are podcasts - loved Serial.
For me, it's reading. I was going to come on and recommend the 50-book thread, but I see Remus got there first! Lots of great recommendations for different kinds of books. My job is intellectually stimulating too.
I felt like you and did a PhD, which may be a rather extreme solution. (And now it's over, I miss it - it's left the mental equivalent of the feeling I get when I haven't run for a few days). But I second or third the Futurelearn suggestion. I recently did the one on cognitive poetics, which was only 2 weeks. Didn't quite finish it, but really loved the bits I did.
I want a brainy book club too, and am toying with starting one, but can't quite think how to advertise it/recruit to it - anyone have any suggestions?
Duolingo is good for languages.
I also got a hiragana workbook because I'm going to try and learn Japanese script.
I seem to be a cliche - felt exactly like this last year and did this:
Turn off my laptop when not working as much as possible.
Started having lessons on two instruments after a break of almost 30 years!
Have a chess set on the coffee table. My 8 year old is now so good she makes us think.
Re-read a classic book every month.
Exercise too - I make sure I do something every day and have recently built up to 50 mins as a minimum daily - somedays it is just a brisk walk with the dog but anything goes.
dotty2 try Meetup.com it sounds like it's a dating site but it isn't. There's all sorts of interesting groups nationwide listed on the website and if there isn't a brainy book group already in your area it would be a good place to advertise.
I see it's already been suggested . But I read an article about working the brain in your middle ages. Learning languages and musical instruments are some of the best thing to do because they are hard! Basically things that stretches you like you are at university. That means just reading, going to the museum, watching the news etc is not enough to stop brain rot.
Learn to dance - good for the body and the brain.
That Meetup site looks really interesting.
It;s important to find stimulating people and nurture that friendship. I've just found a kindred spirit at my dance class & we've arranged to meet up, so two birds with one stone!
The World Service has some good documentaries too. I listen every morning and it helps to open my eyes to what is actually going on in the world. No London slant.
If I knew I would make time to read it I'd subscribe to The Economist. Any time I pick up a copy, I read it cover to cover.
I have recently got involved with a women's political group. Grass roots type thing but man, it invigorated me listening to intelligent women say their stuff. I'll engage with them more in the run up to the election.
Some fabulous ideas, thank you all
Hey Remus nervous of the 50 books thread- I can't bloody read one!
And this thread is in Discussions of the Day.....I've never had one before!
Thanks petallic - I had looked before at Meetup before but I live in a small market town and the nearest events were in cities 20 miles away. But I hadn't thought of using it myself. Maybe there are loads of women sitting here thinking 'if only there was something in my town'!
No need to be nervous - it's not a competition! It might give you some ideas for books you might fancy, though.
And congratulations on your new MN fame.
I'm another one for radio and reading! Always listen to the why factor on bbc world service and also doing the 50 book challenge:-)
Great thread! I watch the bbc parliament to keep up to speed on political developments. Yes to radio 4. Playing in an orchestra again has been great brain workout. Need to crack reading more too, books thread sounds interesting. I try to take the dcs to museums where I can and read and explain the exhibits to them. Also have a large child's illustrated encyclopaedia (from my childhood) which we turn to a lot and I learn (stuff I knew years ago but have forgotten) a lot from that whilst explaining to them. Love the history dates idea and and also have had a slight aspiration for a PhD, would be interested to explore that too! Learning a new craft, e.g. Sewing knitting or making something e.g. Bread is also really invigorating!
MIT lots of free lectures online
Me and DH always play University Challenge, very competitively.
There is a great board game called 'midlife crisis' its quite interesting, gives you snakes and ladders type life options.
Its not about getting back to being the person you were but about the person you are and are going to be, so the books you like now might be different, the things and people you are interested in might be different, the crucial thing is to find out more about the world so that you are aware of what is possible for you and therefore what you want to do. Bearing in mind that when raising children and managing a household one is often very tired, so the pace as which one achieves will be slower.
the brain keeps going with
-exercise: aerobic and yoga
-an adequate diet
-doing a new thing daily
-friendly people to discuss and argue with
-learning a new skill
-getting in a newspaper.
If wanting to learn by heart I would personally find poetry or Shakespeare a more enriching option than the states of America.
The Radiolab podcasts are great, really interesting and random, I think they are free on the Podcasts app
Another vote for Radiolab - and other good podcasts.
Each year I judge in some industry awards (my field is journalism but honestly I think this is good in a lot of industries), it really fires up my brain and inspires me at work as well.
Hey funnyperson great post. Thanks. I know what you are saying about poetry and Shakespeare. I guess the next question is more how do you plan for a lifetime of learning? I'd like to know the States of America and get into poetry too. And where do you start with poetry? Also, I think your point about running a house, getting a decent nights sleep factor into what I can do:learning the States seems manageable, penetrating poetry, less so for some reason.
And I did say I wasn't terribly cultured, theatrical performances, am-dram, and the likes really turn me off.
I agree that the R4 In Our Time archive is brilliant for podcasts- I've learned so much from them.
Are you watching Wolf Hall? I started
with the help of Wikipedia because I haven't read the books and I've since listened to all the R4 Tudor podcasts, and this brilliant biography of Thomas Cromwell talk on the National Archives website. There's also a great resource online called The Anne Boleyn Files. I didn't even think I was interested in that period of history until I started digging.
That's the best approach, IME: listen to or watch something that piques your interest, and immerse yourself in it.
On the poetry front, I am really interested in WW1 & WW2 (well, all 20th century history really), and had read some Wilfred Owen stuff etc at school. After listening to another R4 podcast called Great Lives which featured Vera Brittain, I recently read her memoir Testament Of Youth. It's full of poetry as well as being a brilliant commentary on the effects of WW1 on a certain group of women of that generation.
Honestly, once you start, you just jump from one thing to another, and it's amazing to feel you are getting your groove back and really learning about stuff, however random the journey.
I've found poetry again. It's perfect bitesize reading while i'M hanging about waiting for kids. Can't say that I memorise it though...
Learn to play bridge? I've never done this but always like the sound of bridge nights.
Excellent thread OP....very inspired.
I'm listening to The History of Rome which, I think, was linked to from here ages ago. Short, snappy, very interesting if you haven't delved into that period before.
The New York Times daily crossword app?
i try to improve by watching random iplayer things....the castle series on BBC3 or 4 was good, I have some Inca malarkey to go through this week and Jago whosit is quite easy on the eye
also noticed some more sciency stuff on there
i tend to watch about half an hour a night so a two or three part thing will do me a week.
I also <shamefaced> watch Pointless and that can lead to lots of googling, of things you sort of half know, and some new things this week I learned about Comoros...volcanic islands off Africa and Madagascar. AND am always picking up hints about random countries and chemical elements.
Also love University challenge, watch and fb chat with a chum and see how well we do.
This is the first history podcast I ever listened to from the In Our Time series. It's about Pocahontas. I was curious about the real person because I used to love watching the Disney film with dd1 when she was a baby . It's brilliant.
Subscribe to Audible and listen to the books you want to read whilst running/ shopping/ driving/ putting in the washing/ doing whatever chores need to be done that take up precious reading time. Brilliant.
Coursera, OU open learn, FutureLearn, Alison all offer free online courses.
You can dip in and out as time and commitments make their demands on you.
Any decent course you can't stick with because things go a bit bent will come around again.
Learn a craft?
Knitting keeps me sharp and I end up doing its of maths as I never want to knit the pattern with the suggested weight if yarn so always have too convert the sizing....
I'd start with this site: www.openculture.com/ So many courses, resources, great daily reads
If you're looking for a "liberal education" try Harvard Classics in 356 days (http://www.harvardclassics365.com/p/add-to-cart.html) - technically free as you can alter the price to suit. It's 15 minutes of reading "classic literature" for each day of the year, download as ebooks for your device. Really rather good, mostly non-fiction and big range of subjects.
Are you musical? Singing with a choir is very empowering and there is also great mental challenge reading music.
So glad this thread made DOTD as I would never have found it. So many interesting and useful tips you have all shared - thank you. I do hope it doesn't self-destruct in 90 days as I personally would like to save it in my special 'valuable mumsnet thread links' note that I keep in my Google Keep. Please MNHQ, don't let this valuable thread disappear....
Let me share some of my tips....
I got an app on my iphone called Pocket. It's a way of saving information that you see online and you can 'save' it to this app and read it later. I signed up but have never worked out how it works, but they email me every week with interesting articles that others have saved and I have learned/read some fascinating things through that.
Also, sign up to the Guardian to get a daily digest of articles which covers all subjects news, sport, culture, travel. It is like getting sent a free Guardian every day but they've cut out all the flotsam and only sent you the most interesting bits.
And subscribe to the funniest feminist blog around which will make you both angry and full of laughter at the same time: the two ladies who write this are just brilliant - food for the soul
Actually I've just noticed that this week they haven't managed to write the blog but have linked to other pieces, but do explore and check out previous weeks - they are fabulous.
I rejoined amateur dramatics last year and I was surprised how much it made me work mentally - learning lines, remembering them, doing research and then building a character.
DH joined Futurelearn and Coursera. He has done twenty courses in a year! He absolutely loves the videos and doing quizzes. He has covered law, history, astronomy and statistics. It hasn't suited me so much but I am lucky that I research for a living and feel I am using my brain for work.
I also recommend checking local adult learning - we have a local college which does teach wonderful day and weekend courses. You may have something similar. Takes a bit of googling.
And Radio 4!!! I love Radio 4.
whoreandpeace but where could it go? I struggled to find the right place when I started the thread, so I ended up in chat?
Great links and ideas. I'm going to chase them all up over the weekend and bookmark them all.
I really appreciate the replies: you're all dead interesting! Thank you!
This is a great thread. Can it be moved to classics please MNHQ?
Some really good suggestions.
My job is hard and generally keeps me on my toes academically... But in always interested in learning in different ways. Eg chess.
DH and I also play university challenge competitively. Nothing like firing up the brain cells on a Monday night!
One I foprgot to mention is Blinkist.com - easily digestible summaries of great non-fiction books. Sometimes you can find free trials (I had one for 3 months) or there's the free "Daily" which offers one random book each day (what I'm using now).
Glad you've enjoyed the thread mammmamia, I've bookmarked it too there's some great suggestions!
Or move it to Other Subjects?
With poetry, why not buy a collection of great poems - there is a good one called The Rattle Bag edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney - and look through it. Some of the poems will leave you cold but you're bound to find a few that speak to you.
Radio 4 podcasts and listen again on the pc - I force myself to listen outside my natural interests so instead of just listening to e.g. history, politics, literature, I make the effort for science, technology, maths etc. I also take on work in areas slightly outside my comfort zone so that I am challenged. Mostly it works but sometimes it makes me cry in the privacy of my home office and wonder wtf I was thinking of. I am having a 5 minute break from one of those new and demanding work projects now as my head was about to explode.
First time ever I've 'reported' a thread, begging nicely for it to be put in classics. These posts are pure intellectual gold dust, keep them coming!
I'll rummage through my own brain and see if I can come up with anything myself that hasn't already been covered.
My personal favourite ways of keeping my brain ticking over usually involve doing something while listening to something else. When I get time I love to do DIY, embroidery, 'proper' cooking (as opposed to throwing dinner together for the DCs), anything practical really, while listening to stuff on iplayer. Things that require a bit more attention than just background listening.
It works particularly well if the practical task doesn't require bags of concentration. I find whatever I'm listening to really sinks in, and I'll have permanent memories of what I was listening to while I was doing this or that bit of sewing/DIY etc.
Every time I look at the patchwork blanket on my sofa I remember all the episodes of 'Shared Experience' I binge-listened while I was making it
Join or form a pub/community quiz team. Cheap sociable brain stimulation for me.
I looked up FutureLearn eagerly and delved deeply. I had to withdraw though because it's not free as such. You have to buy books etc and money does live in my purse much.
Protein equals more brainpower. So breakfast is key try wholemeal toast or bread, or porridge with milk, fruit or yoghurt. The best breakfast would be wholemeal or seeded bread with peanut butter – yum!
Cod liver oil.
No joke. It will help to sharpen up your brain.
As you have a demanding career and kids, you probably need bite-sized nuggets of "new input" to help build and reinforce new connections in your brain.
I would suggest ...
World cinema: pick a subtitled film from another country and just watch it for the different cultural perspective. Then, afterwards, think about it in the shower.
Music: listen to music from other countries just to hear something new and unfamiliar. Choose songs with lyrics. You may find your brain starts to tune into the language and you want to know what they mean. These days, you can find lyrics to most songs on the interwebz and google translate is your friend.
Podcasts: you can listen to them on the commute, while you are cooking ... choose unfamiliar subjects.
Write a journal: use a "morning pages" style. I find it is the best way to brain dump, and often very interesting ideas come out of the mess.
Audio books: listen to poetry. Seriously. It is one of the most wonderful ways to experience language.
If you are in a university town or city, there may also be a number of open or guest lectures you could attend. The information should be on the events section of the university's website.
Posting again so I can report it and ask MNHQ to please move this somewhere more permanent. Hope that's OK with you OP.
This thread surely must go in Classics? it has so much useful information and advice. It is a life builder. Where are you MNHQ peeps?
The people have spoken! Welcome to Mumsnet Classics
Have signed up to future learning. Sad to just read it's not free though because of the books etc. that's a shame!
My 74 yo dad has taken up ancient languages in his retirement, Hebrew Akkadian etc. very inspiring and a real brain work out!
<oh my gawd>
I was going to agree that Other Subjects looked good, but Classics!
I love that this thread has taken on a life of its own, it means it's not just me thinking like this.
have you considered a MOOC? I did a course on edx.org last year which got me right out of my mid-life funk. coursera, I believe, do similar. YOu can do anything from coding to creative writing. brilliant!
Watch Only Connect or play on the website or app
Learn a language with Memrise or similar. I keep trying Arabic.
Memorize some poetry
Watch a TV show made and set in another country - Inspector Montalbano, Wallander, al-Jazeera, even Top Gear...
Try a local pub quiz
May I join in even though I listen to Elaine Paige on a Sunday?
Cryptic crosswords are GREAT for this. The Guardian are my favourite, and perhaps the hardest, Times & Telegraph pretty good too. You kind of have to learn a whole set of rules which is nice if you're a bit of a geek.
Second playing Bridge - I play all kind of card games actually.
Yes to competitive University Challenge & newspaper quizzes (I like Sat Guardian).
Sometimes doing something that seems like pure comfort food for your brain can lead you off in a new direction. A while ago I re-read my old Laura Ingalls Wilder books, because I needed some utterly undemanding, familiar easy reading (stressful times).
This led me onto a trail of googling/researching more about the history of the settlement of America, the lives of homesteaders, with a sidetrack onto the Donner Party and a family of frontier serial killers I can't now remember the name of (!), old recipes, the history of quilting in the US and all kinds of interesting stuff. Ended up taking myself on a day out to the American Museum in Bath
So, as well as trying something completely new and different, it can also wake your brain up to follow a path that starts somewhere really familiar or seemingly trivial.
I think the serial killer family were the Beans.
Just been googling again, Remus - 'my' serial killers (so to speak) were the Benders. Apparently the real Ingalls family encountered them on their travels (though some people think Laura exaggerated their experience a bit)
Anyway, I'm throwing the thread off topic, so will stop now
The Beans and The Benders - great names!
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