If you’re looking for a brain boost, keep reading for 11 easy ways to enhance brain performance!
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In this article:
- Grow New Neurons by Taking a Stroll
- Take Five for Five
- Kids’ Play
- Try “Minute” Mindfulness!
- Have a Cup of Coffee
- Eat Brain Foods
- Try Something New
- Spend Time with Friends
- Don’t Scrimp on Sleep
- Take Brain Booster Supplements
Level Up With These Brain Power-Boosting Habits
Small Changes, Real Results
Did you know that a whopping 75% of brain aging can be avoided by making small tweaks to your everyday routine? Three experts recently discussed these brain health hacks in Women’s World magazine.
Here are 11 brain power boosting tips that you can adopt today. It’s easier than you might think to cultivate better brain function and performance!
1. Grow New Neurons by Taking a Stroll
“Walking without breaks helps keep the part of your brain that grows brain cells more resilient,” reveals psychotherapist, Mike Dow, Ph.D. In fact, it’s so effective that strolling for 25 minutes a few times a week keeps your brain’s “incubator” for new brain cells in shape.
Plus, all that aerobic exercise works wonders on your cortisol levels, thus reducing stress.
2. Take Five for Five
Dr. Leanne Young says chronic multitasking causes the brain to shrink. “In particular, it reduces the size of the hippocampus, a brain region supporting memory and learning,” Young says. The fix?
Cut back on multitasking and let your brain recharge five times a day by taking five minutes to rest – no social media, no TV, no emails…just rest.“Spend those five minutes stretching, going outside, or on meditation,” Young suggests.
3. Kids’ Play
Mike Dow says game concentration is shown to sharpen memory. Try memory card games because the same game that six-year-olds play revs the recall of 60-year-olds, and may help stave off the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Try “Minute” Mindfulness!
Stress “impairs memory and interferes with neurotransmitters that make you feel good.” What can be done? “Just take a few long, deep breaths and hold each one for a few seconds before releasing it,” says natural health expert Michelle Schoffro Cook, Ph.D.
“Just doing this one minute is enough to slash the stress hormones that impede memory!
5. Have a Cup of Coffee
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, leading to improved cognitive function. While some studies have shown caffeine’s short-term impact on better learning, reaction time, and mood, researchers are still on the fence about how caffeine can improve long-term memory retention (though some studies are promising).
Don’t drink coffee? Green tea contains caffeine, too.
6. Eat Brain Foods
To prevent cognitive decline, we need to put in the work to make sure we keep our brain sharp as we grow older.
A healthy lifestyle makes a difference. Here are some of the foods you need to include in your diet.
- Leafy greens that contain vitamin K, beta carotene, folate, and lutein. Broccoli, kale, and spinach are rich with those substances.
- Berries high in flavonoids help improve memory. Eating two servings of strawberries or blueberries a week not only helps prevent or delay memory decline but also fights Alzheimer’s disease.
- Walnuts contain protein and healthy fats that are known to boost brain power naturally.
7. Try Something New
If you keep doing the same thing, you end up using the same neural pathways over and over again. This does little to boost brain function.
What are neural pathways? These are pathways that enable signals to be sent from one area of the nervous system to another. Every time you learn something new, neural pathways are altered.
When you use the same neural pathways, it allows you to complete tasks with minimal mental effort. If you don’t shake things up every now and then, you won’t give your brain the stimulation it needs to keep developing.
So it’s good to try new things every now and then to allow your brain to grow. A great brain boosting activity will:
- Introduce something new – to really give your brain a boost, try something unfamiliar or something outside of your comfort zone.
- Provide a challenge – great brain boosting activities are engaging because they require your undivided attention and focus.
- Offer buildable skills – activities that have beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels are great because they allow you to slowly build your new skill set.
- Be rewarding – choose an activity that you’re interested in. This helps keep you motivated when you encounter challenges and difficulties.
8. Spend Time with Friends
Brain boosting activities don’t have to be a solo endeavor. In fact, the simple act of spending quality time with your friends and family can actually improve cognitive performance.
One study shows social engagement can help improve your brain’s executive function. Your brain’s executive function involves self-monitoring skills, working memory, and the ability to focus and regulate distractions.
Another study shows having close friends offers cognitive benefits for the elderly. Older adults who have more friends engage in more leisure activities, which, in turn, enhances their cognitive reserves.
Remember, no man is an island. Cultivating friendships not only improves your well-being, but it can also offer brain-boosting opportunities!
9. Don’t Scrimp on Sleep
There’s a world of difference between getting enough sleep and getting the right amount of sleep. Sure, you can get by with a few hours of sleep, but studies show adults need at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal functioning.
Studies show sleep deprivation has a negative impact on attention span, working memory, long-term memory retrieval, and vigilance. Here are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Come up with a sleep schedule – Train your body to sleep by creating a routine. Aim to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Limit bedroom activities – If you have trouble winding down, turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary by limiting the activities you do in it. For instance, avoid working in bed so you only associate your bed with sleep.
- Avoid screens before bedtime – To truly disengage and prepare for a good night’s rest, avoid using smartphones, computers, or watching television a few hours before bedtime.
- Have a cut-off for caffeine intake – Coffee is a great stimulant and may offer the jolt you need to get started in the morning. However, it’s best to have a cut-off so that it won’t keep you awake at night.
So, if you want to boost your brain power, don’t neglect your sleeping habits. Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to boost the brain.
However, laughter may also have untapped cognitive benefits. Unlike other emotional responses which are usually localized in a specific brain region, studies show a laughter response engages multiple brain regions.
On top of that, multiple studies show students perform better when their teachers find ways to use humor in the classroom. Here are some ways you can inject more humor and laughter into your life:
- Spend time with people who enjoy engaging in humor – Find people who are naturally funny and spend some time with them.
- Laugh at your follies – Don’t take life too seriously. When something unexpected happens, try to find the humor in it rather than stress about it.
- Pay it forward and share your own humorous experiences with others – Re-telling humorous experiences is a great way to engage with people and getting a few more laughs out of it.
- Spend time with children – Most children are naturally light-hearted and funny. You’d be surprised at how contagious their laughter is!
- Surround yourself with humorous materials – Catch a funny show or movie, read the humor section of your favorite paper or magazine, or set up a funny screensaver.
So, lighten up and laugh. Your brain will thank you for it!
11. Take Brain Booster Supplements
Add a daily dose of brain boosting nutrients by taking supplements. Look for one that has the following key ingredients:
- Fisetin is naturally found in strawberries. Studies show that it’s rich in antioxidants and improves signaling pathways in the brain.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) are the building blocks for antioxidants. Studies show it protects brain mitochondria and may help counteract memory loss.
- Resveratrol is a polyphenol that may counteract the effects of aging on the brain. Studies show it helps enhance memory performance.
- B-Vitamins help increase DNA stability and repair in brain tissues. Studies show folic acid supplements, a type of B-vitamin, can help improve cognitive performance.
- Alpha lipoic acid has antioxidant properties. Studies show it can help neutralize toxins in the brain.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to get all the brain boosting nutrients from your regular diet. Taking supplements is a convenient way to sneak them in and boost brain health!
In our quest for a healthy body, we should never neglect our brain. Cultivate a sound mind in a sound body even as you age by employing these tips for better brain power.
You just might beat cognitive decline, boost brain activity, and achieve better mental health with these ideas.
What are some of your go-to hacks to increase your brain power? Share them in the comments section below.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 18, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.