Mental agility (Can I improve it?)

In this guide, we will discuss “Mental agility, tips on how to stay mentally agile, how you can become mentally agile and mental agility and the brain. 

Mental agility

Mental agility means a lot of things for different people. However, according to Martha Duesterhoft from People Results, “Mental agility refers to individuals who are comfortable with complexity, examine problems carefully, can make fresh connections between different things as well as explain them in a simple way so others can understand.” 

Others define mental agility as the ability to move nimbly with speed and ease, thus refers to mental quickness and sharpness. According to Jason Sharp from LinkedIn, Individuals who are mentally agile often display the following attributes:

  • They are comfortable with the uncomfortable.
  • Find ease in complexity.
  • Quickly, yet carefully, examine problems.
  • In all thinking, they exist at the intersection of disciplines via The Medici Effect.
  • Explains complex issues in a simple way so others can understand.

However, “Mental agility is more than just quickness of mind. A person who is mentally agile is able to think on their feet, solve problems and be creative at work”, according to PayScale. Being mentally agile involves being a fast thinker and being flexible, where you can actually do some things to strengthen these skills and abilities.  

For instance, activities such as reading, sudoku, crossword puzzles, memory or strategy games, brain teasers, crafting or puzzles can help you keep your brain active and improve your mental agility. However, we will take a look at some other things you could do more in depth.

However, if you feel like those activities are too boring or they are just not for you and you need something more ‘on the go’, there are several recommended apps where you can train your brain. Some of those apps are: luminosity, memrise or cogniFit Brain Training. 

Let’s take a look at some examples on how to stay mentally active throughout your life, keeping your memory sharp and your brain in good shape.

How to stay mentally agile?

As experts indicate how staying mentally active is the key to keeping your brain in good shape. We know for a fact that our mental agility declines as we age but what if we could somehow slow down the process? Well, there are several simple activities you can do on a regular basis to help keep your neurons firing, such as:

  • Reading. This is considered an excellent exercise for the brain since it is believed to relieve stress and improve cognitive functioning. In addition, it keeps you entertained while also improving your memory so instead of scrolling through your social media, trying picking a book. 
  • Focus on finding solutions instead of only seeing problems. Yes, everytime we think about a solution we only see problems and in our attempt to solve the problem we want to come up with the ‘right’ answer. However, this only sets the bar real high when we try to find the best solution. Instead, try brainstorming allowing yourself to think of all the potential solutions 
  • Regular exercise. There are many known benefits to exercising regularly. For instance, it improves your mood, boosts your energy, helps you sleep better at night, among others. Subsequently, committing to exercising regularly is good for you not only physically but also mentally.
  • Mental Gymnastics can also help to improve mental agility and ability.
  • Don’t waste your time ruminating. Without knowing we spend a lot of time ruminating about things that are out of our control. The past is not going to change because we rethink things or think about how we would have done things differently.  Moreover, stop focusing on what others do or think, don’t try to control them. Consequently, instead of focusing on the things you can’t control focus on those you can.
  • Trying new things. You can improve your mental agility by learning something new, either some historical facts, a new language, how to cook or play a new sport. Pulling yourself out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to be challenged can help you boost your mental agility. 
  • Vary your routine. Changing your habits creates new brain pathways and strengthens existing neuronal connections. Try shopping at a different grocery store or changing the route you normally take to work or school. 

How can I become mentally agile?

Experts recommend to follow these simple tips:

  • Fighting sameness. We know it is comfortable to do things the same way or recycle ideas or solutions to problems you faced before. However, to have a mentally agile brain it is important to get out of your comfort zone, go to unfamiliar places or places you don’t normally go, read books or watch movies that are not normally within your scope or interest. Broadened your view of things, of the world, so you can come up with new solutions even if there are the same problems you have faced in the past.
  • Embracing uncertainty and the unknown. This is one of the most scary situations since we tend to be afraid of uncertainty and what we don’t know. Don’t be afraid of failing since failure is not necessarily a negative thing. From making mistakes and failing you can actually learn a lot, getting a new perspective out of a situation or problem.
  • Thinking it through. Challenge yourself to consider something is indeed a fact if it can be proven in a court of law. Look for patterns in your date and not just settle with collecting information. Ask yourself, it is OK to have questions that seem to remain unanswered without taking assumptions as facts or the truth. 

You might also enjoy reading about the Rituals of power Quest, as it might help to improve your agility.

Mental agility and the brain

You may have heard too often ‘the brain is a muscle, you need to exercise it’ and even if we know how the brain is not considered a muscle, we still need to exercise it to keep it healthy and always functioning at its best. Many scientists believe that keeping an active brain as children is just as important as keeping it active as adults. We may have been amazed on how children find solutions for problems or how creative they can get but the truth is that one way or the other we start losing this as we grow older. 

You may work somewhere where your job has become repetitive over time, you are always doing the same thing, same routine. There is nothing new here, many people can feel related to this scenario but what if we forced ourselves into going to work with a different mindset? Or wanting to do things differently for once? If you do, your brain will appreciate it.ç

We may become less agile and not because of normal aging but also if you have had a brain injury or a degenerative disease such as Multiple Esclerosis, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s you know the struggle. However, even if there is no cure yet, as indicated by cognifit.com:

 “Many neurologists used these rehabilitation and neurocognitive stimulation programs to help improve or delay diseases like MS, Parkinson’s, cognitive deterioration, Alzheimer’s Disease, dyslexia, ADHD, insomnia, dyscalculia , etc. This is why mental agility games can boost neuroplasticity and help the brain recover after injuries or disorders.”

Why not give it a try? If conventional games are not your style or you don’t really have much time at home. You can try to download any of the apps available and train your brain while you commute or during your lunch break. Invest more in yourself and become mentally agile.

Why is this blog about Mental agility important?

Mental agility is a skill we tend to lose overtime, either because we get trapped into our routine or we feel safe and comfortable doing things the way we have been doing for years. Whatever the reason is, know there are options for you to train your brain and recover some of the mental agility you may have lost over time. As we discussed, there are so many options out there, from reading a book to changing your daily routine to using a mental agility game in your phone.

Even though your brain is not actually a muscle, we still need to exercise it to keep it healthy and functioning at its best. Don’t waste your time ruminating on things you can’t change, instead focus on those you can change. Also, it is extremely useful to try to do new things by challenging yourself or learn a new skill such as cooking, playing a sport or even learning a new language. Whatever you decide to do, your brain will appreciate it and you will start noticing the difference.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mental agility

What does it mean to have mental agility?

To have mental agility means having more than just quickness of mind. A person who is considered mentally agile, is able to think ‘outside the box’, solve problems, be flexible and creative.

What is a mental agility test?

A mental agility test usually measures the speed of thought and general mental agility, such is the case of the McQuaig Mental Agility Test. Moreover, being mentally agile means the individual has the ability to think, learn and absorb new information, systems and processes. Such tests usually assess vocabulary, verbal reasoning skills and the ability to perform simple mathematical functions.

How can I improve my mental acuity?

You can improve your mental acuity or the ability of your brain to effectively respond to a stimulus by:

– Having a Low-Carb Diet.

– Getting enough sleep.

– Taking breaks when you’re in a mental slump. Step away from what you are doing and take a break.

– Take some time during the day to meditate. Just closing your eyes and sitting quietly for a few minutes can help you clear your head. 

Is learning agility a skill?

Learning agility is considered a skill and it is one of the most important skills needed to succeed in a career or business. This term has been associated with other terms such as leadership success or achieving high potential.

What is another word for agility?

Other words for agility or synonyms include:

– Liveliness

– Nimbleness

– Briskness

– Smartness

– Activity

– Quickness

– Readiness

References 

Duesterhoft, M. (2015, Oct.) 3 Tips for Developing Mental Agility. Retrieved from people-results.com.

Payscale.com: “THINK FAST! 7 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR MENTAL AGILITY”

Sharp, J. (2019, Apr.) Mental Agility. Retrieved from linkedin.com.

Eisler, M. (2016, Feb.) 5 Ways to Boost Your Memory and Mental Agility. Retrieved from chopra.com.

Cognifit.com: “Mental Agility Games”

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