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Staying sharp academically without sudoku.

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DoItTooJulia Mon 02-Feb-15 21:27:54

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?

DoItTooJulia Fri 06-Feb-15 09:03:18

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!

mammmamia Fri 06-Feb-15 09:19:27

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!

bedelia Fri 06-Feb-15 09:36:09

One I foprgot to mention is - 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!

IrenetheQuaint Fri 06-Feb-15 09:47:54

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.

ElviraCondomine Fri 06-Feb-15 09:56:08

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.

PetraStrorm Fri 06-Feb-15 10:04:30

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.

PetraStrorm Fri 06-Feb-15 10:14:38

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 smile

Henriettacat Fri 06-Feb-15 10:30:07

Join or form a pub/community quiz team. Cheap sociable brain stimulation for me.

HappyAgainOneDay Fri 06-Feb-15 11:27:20

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. sad

DopeyDawg Fri 06-Feb-15 11:35:46

Can this be moved to Classics please MNHQ?

Marian123 Fri 06-Feb-15 12:01:29

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!

Worksallhours Fri 06-Feb-15 12:55:23

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. smile

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.

Redoubtable Fri 06-Feb-15 13:12:43

Posting again so I can report it and ask MNHQ to please move this somewhere more permanent. Hope that's OK with you OP.

whoreandpeace Fri 06-Feb-15 13:56:52

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?

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Feb-15 14:08:04

The people have spoken! Welcome to Mumsnet Classics

<plumps cushions>

Blueskies80 Fri 06-Feb-15 14:46:56

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!

Blueskies80 Fri 06-Feb-15 14:47:41

And hurrah for mumsnet classics!

DoItTooJulia Fri 06-Feb-15 15:49:13

<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.

RedundantExpat Fri 06-Feb-15 15:49:46

have you considered a MOOC? I did a course on 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!

NotCitrus Fri 06-Feb-15 16:42:36

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
Sporcle quizzes

miaowmix Fri 06-Feb-15 16:51:29

May I join in even though I listen to Elaine Paige on a Sunday? wink

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).

Nice thread.

PetraStrorm Fri 06-Feb-15 17:47:54

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 grin

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.

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Fri 06-Feb-15 17:49:34

I think the serial killer family were the Beans.

PetraStrorm Fri 06-Feb-15 17:54:57

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 grin

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Fri 06-Feb-15 17:56:41

The Beans and The Benders - great names!

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