In recent years there has been an exponential increase in different methods to help boost overall brain health and energize the mind. Much of the strategy for enhancing brain activity revolves around engaging in physical and mental exercises every day, including the advent of brain teasers and smartphone apps. These approaches not only aid in managing professional and personal burnout, but also help to manage everyday stress and keep us engaged especially during activities that require significant brain power.
By focusing on nourishing the brain, keeping it stimulated, and continuously improving its plasticity (the flexibility of our brains to make neural connections) through varying up the following methods, we can amplify our mental state, increase productivity, accomplish remarkable tasks and begin each day feeling refreshed and inspired.
Here are ten key ways to enhance your brain health and performance, starting today:
- Get a good night’s sleep. Research suggests that there are enormous benefits to getting a solid seven to eight hours of sleep per night, beyond just helping you feel more rested and alert. Sleep boosts your ability to learn, concentrate and retain information longer throughout your day.
- Engage in regular exercise. You’ve likely heard this one before but sticking to a regular routine of aerobic exercise, incorporating strength training, dance, yoga or a sport like golf all have proven benefits for coordination, balance, and other cognitive functions. One study noted that brain processing speed improved with only 30 minutes of regular, moderate exercise.
- Develop good nutritional habits. Fueling your brain is one of the most critical components of brain health. Consuming a diet that is centered on plants, and consists of a variety of plant foods such are vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, berrieswater as the main beverage and reducing alcohol is simple but effective way to enhance your cognitive abilities and protect brain cells.
- Foster healthy relationships. Consistently building new relationships and fostering existing ones has a positive effect on the brain. Even short conversations before a work meeting or between events during the day (including having a good laugh) can help with problem-solving, creativity and other cognitive functions.
- Learn a new skill. Apps are a wonderful way to learn new information and challenge the brain, but the mind continuously craves something new. Taking up a new skill such as learning a musical instrument, learning a new language, or trying a new artistic skill like painting or pottery develops creativity, fine motor abilities and lights up just about every part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation. This is a trend for many entrepreneurs in particular right now as meditation in particular helps to boost memory. Mindfulness also helps to open your mind up to new thoughts and ways of thinking as well as improving your focus in the moment.
- Stay organized. Recent research suggests that the simple act of organizing your desk at work and keeping your space clutter-free can have huge benefits to boosting your brain power.
- Engage in expansive thinking and innovative problem solving. There is something to be said about a good old fashioned brainstorming session. Taking some time out of your day to think through larger problems and come up with creative, alternative solutions to processes already in place can boost cognitive flexibility.
- Spend time in nature. If you don’t think of yourself as much of an outdoors person, consider that just a short amount of time spent in your backyard or local park can have a drastic impact on your brain by helping to reduce activity in your subgenual prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain responsible for depression). Spending time in nature also has positive effects on short term attention and memory.
- Make time to relax. It may sound too simple but giving your brain the time it needs to decompress and relax is crucial in helping your problem-solving skills. Take some time to meditate and your creativity will soar while your brain develops new neural connections.
Focusing your efforts on one or two of these tips is a great way to start building the habit of enhancing your brain health, maximizing your mental output, and expanding your mind every day. It’s also an important step towards protecting yourself from the risk of dementia in the future. Depending on your schedule, not all of these suggestions will be feasible to implement every day, but choose a couple that you can take away from this list and implement today (why not start now?) and you’ll be doing something good for your brain that will have a positive, lasting impact throughout your life!
Need help getting started? Try the NEURO Plan App! Currently in development, the app is free and analyzes your current lifestyle and shows you the way toward optimal brain health! Based on years of research, the NEURO Plan app is a powerful tool to add to your daily routine.