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How do I Improve Mental Endurance?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is possible to improve mental endurance in much the same way it is possible to improve physical endurance: through practice and mental exercises. It is necessary to constantly stretch and challenge the brain in order to build endurance, and to prevent problems such as memory loss or lapses in concentration. One of the best ways to improve mental endurance is to challenge the brain through puzzles such as crossword puzzles. Physical exercise actually improves brain function as well, because it encourages more blood flow to the brain.

Crossword puzzles force you to think differently than you normally do, and to recall facts and vocabulary that you may have temporarily forgotten. There are a number of games that can be found online or as a video game that promise to challenge the brain and boost mental endurance as well. These are often memory games or math games, such as Sudoku, that force you to concentrate and to identify patterns. Even though you may be having fun playing these games, they are improving your mental endurance at the same time.

Mental endurance can also be improved by consciously trying to concentrate more throughout the day. Rather than splitting your attention between work and email, for example, try turning off the email while you are working, and only focusing on one thing at a time. Initially, this may be difficult; you might only try to go an hour or two without checking email, but gradually trying to increase the time you spend in focused work can greatly improve your concentration. Conversely, taking a brief break a few times per day to walk around the office, or simply stretching at your desk, can give your mind a break and give you greater concentration when you return to work.

Challenging the brain to learn something new is another way to improve mental endurance. Learning to play a musical instrument or learning a second language are two of the most popular, but learning anything new can be beneficial to the brain throughout your life. Starting a new hobby such as crafts or photography can also help to boost mental endurance. The way you spend your down time has a big impact as well; given the choice, it is best to sit and read a book or to go for a walk outside than to simply zone out and watch television. Improving your concentration and mental focus should be a daily practice, and over time you will begin to notice a big difference in your ability to concentrate and remember things.

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Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Oct 03, 2014

@browncoat - I guess it's a matter of finding active mental activities rather than passive ones. Although, in saying that, I also want to point out that meditation could be called passive, but I think it helps me with my mental endurance. I guess it's not passive because you are actively being passive.

I find it's the best kind of mental preparation for anything difficult.

By browncoat — On Oct 03, 2014

@irontoenail - A no frills version of that is to play "memory" with kids, where you show them a tray of random objects for a minute and then get them to repeat what objects are there.

Reading is also very good for mental endurance, for children and adults. If you find your attention span is growing shorter, I would find the most interesting book possible and get yourself to read it. Or even start with short stories.

And don't think that video games or movies are a substitute for them. There is very little need for mental endurance when consuming media like that because you don't really have to concentrate at all. I'm very fond of movies and computer games, but if you want to train your mind to stick to a task for a long period, they aren't the way to go. If anything most of them will erode your ability to concentrate.

By irontoenail — On Oct 02, 2014

A great game to play with children to help them to develop mental endurance is to get them to observe a scene (like the other patrons at a cafe) and then tell you as much detail about it as they can remember without looking.

You can ask them questions to see if you can get them to notice different things next time, like how old was the person on my left or what color were those lady's shoes, or how many bowls were at that table.

This makes them better at observing and better at holding details in their heads. If they have an artistic bent, you could get them to draw the scene instead but that might not help some children as they get anxious over their drawing skills.

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