When we think of ways to improve our wellness, we might typically think about drinking more water, eating the right foods, and not skipping that 8 a.m. Zumba class. With all the tasks to keep track of in the busy commotion of our everyday lives, it is easy for our intellectual wellness to be put on the back burner, intentionally or not.

Aside from contributing to our overall wellness, when we challenge and stimulate our minds with higher levels of mental activity on a regular basis, we help construct a reserve of healthy and efficient brain cells and connections, leading to reduced cognitive decline (Valenzuela and Sachdev, Psychological Medicine, 2006).

The more brain activities you do, the more frequently you do them, and the more complex the activity, the better your intellectual wellness will be. Inciting intellectual wellness might seem like a confusing, daunting task, but there are actually four simple activities you can try:

Read. Some of us may think we’re already reading enough when it comes to class work, office emails, or keeping up with those friends on Facebook who we don’t really know but are too hesitant to remove from our friend’s list. Sadly, 28 percent of Americans have not read a book in the past year. Reading is paramount to intellectual growth as it can improve your memory, enhance your vocabulary, and even increase your capacity to empathize with others.

Create. On par with reading, exploring your creative side helps with not only memory retention, but also your emotional wellness. Try picking up a creative hobby at home, or even bust out one of those adult coloring books every once in a while.

Explore. Interacting with the world around us is a great way to challenge our minds in new ways. Nature walks on the Quad, documentary showings at the Normal Theater, or a quick visit to one of Bloomington’s museums are all budget-friendly avenues for inciting your intellectual wellness. When in doubt, try going to dinner at a place you’ve never been before, or even exploring a new activity such as rock climbing or ice-skating.

Do the opposite. With our busy schedules, it is very easy to get stuck in a comfortable routine. Try taking a different route to work, or even going to a movie on Wehrenberg Wednesday that you might not otherwise go see. Or, if you are a person who is always on-the-go, try scheduling some time for yourself to sit down and relax.

Additional intellectual wellness activities

  • Explore current events.
  • Read a book.
  • Attend a lecture.
  • Watch an educational show or listen to an educational podcast.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Travel somewhere new.
  • Play brain games such as activities found on BrainBashers.com and Braingle.com.

Campus and local resources


Challenge yourself to make YOU a priority! SEVEN is a free program from Health Promotion and Wellness for students, faculty, and staff that focuses on the importance of the seven dimensions of wellness: emotionalenvironmentalintellectualphysicalsocialspiritual, and vocational. SEVEN runs from September to the end of April, and you can join at any time. Log wellness activities to earn points toward monthly prize drawings. Participants also receive the SEVEN newsletter and information on campus wellness events. For more information, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/SEVEN.