We love all types of puzzles and are particularly excited to hear that Rob Lowe is hosting a new show, Mental Samurai, a mental obstacle course that tests people on their mental acumen while they contend with being physically transported around the set at high speeds in a specially designed capsule capable of rotating 360 degrees. Imagine answering trivia questions while riding in what looks like a cross between a human gyroscope and a human centrifuge — not easy! It got us thinking about how we can prepare for any mental performance. Whether you’re preparing for a quiz, a recital, or a game show, we have some tips for how to slay it like a Mental Samurai — including a few from celebrity game show host Rob Lowe!

Get in your reps.

Make your training a daily routine or habit. Just like you may do pushups to build your muscles, get your mental reps in to grow your capabilities. Practice for showtime by testing yourself on the content you’ll be quizzed on. For Mental Samurai, it is categories of knowledge, memory, puzzles and sequencing. Rob Lowe suggests contestants, “do a sudoku puzzle or play Trivia Pursuit while under pressure to prepare.” You can also train with Lumosity games that target memory, attention, flexibility, speed, and problem solving.

Practice in a similar context.

While we don’t suggest tumbling down a flight of stairs while doing trivia to simulate what it’s like to be Mental Samuraicontestant, practicing in a similar context to the atmosphere you will be performing in can help. If you’ve ever tried to retrace your steps after losing your car keys, you’ve experienced context-dependent memory in action. It can be easier to recall items if you study them in a similar context or environment that you will have to remember them in later. While it may be hard to find a capsule that travels around at high speeds and rotates 360 degrees like on Mental Samurai, or the pressure of the classroom, you may be able to find somewhere that simulates being outside of your comfort zone where you can practice filtering out distractions and focusing on the task at hand.

Rest up.

Get your sleep — but don’t oversleep — eat well, and hydrate. If you take care of your mind, your mind will take care of you. Lowe mentally prepares to host Mental Samurai by, “making sure I get plenty of rest before coming in for a full day of hosting.”

Learn to quiet your mind.

Another key skill is the ability to stay present, rather than getting carried away by all the distractions around you. We have heard a lot of people say that the traditional notion of mindfulness is not for them, but at its core, mindfulness is just another type of brain training. Having a still moment and focusing on the breath is something anyone can do. Not only might it help you reduce feelings of anxiety, but it might even help you become more aware during the performance at hand like other elite athletes. The ideal state is when you are energized, yet relaxed, when your mind is calm, but your body is ready to go.

Don’t forget to have fun!

When you’re in the flow and relaxed, you can feel like a kid at play. Play can be an important source of relaxation for adults as well as kids. Lowe said, “My goal is to keep things fun on set and to make our players comfortable and have a laugh with them before they face the course.”

We’re curious: how do you prepare for a challenging performance or mental task? Share your own tips.

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