Most of us want to be creative, smart, and quick thinkers. Unfortunately, much of the brain boosting advice out there falls in one of three areas:
- Information that’s all about coding and boosting your technical skills;
- Widely disproven methods such as doing puzzles;
- Silly woo Woo Science.
So, what do you do to improve your brainpower when you aren’t interested coding? How do you increase your cognitive skills when the idea of solving crossword puzzles seems as ridiculous as it does pointless?
What are some apps, exercises, and other methods you can apply that haven’t been created by graduates of Coconut Oil University? :)
The good news is that there are thirteen things you can do to boost brain power. Keep reading to learn more.
Feel Free to Nap! It Will Improve Your Memory
At first glance, this may not seem like anything revolutionary. Of course well rested people think more clearly! Things go more deeply than this though.
A Harvard University study uncovered something interesting. In this study, participants underwent training. After the training some were encouraged to nap. Others were not encouraged to do so. Immediately afterwards, evaluations made it clear that the participants who napped performed much better on tasks that required good memory functions.
Find Ways to Challenge Yourself
For a while, the concept of brain training and brain games was very popular. The idea was that playing challenging logic or puzzle games would improve your cognitive skills. This works, until it doesn’t work. Basically, your brain becomes stronger when it’s challenged and learning new things. Once you’ve mastered something, that stops happening.
For example, playing Scrabble might do wonders for your brain at first. Once you become a pro at it, there’s no longer an effect on your brain. Worse, you could even lose some of the physical changes to your brain that you gained.
So, challenge yourself. Just know that once you’ve mastered something, it’s no longer helping to improve your cognitive functioning. This means you have to continue to find new challenges.
Boost Your BDNF With Exercise
BDNF is brain derived neurotrophic factor. It is a protein that your body generates when you exercise. The good news is that it doesn’t take much or very intense exercise for this to happen. Even something as simple as taking a walk for half an hour will do the trick.
What BDNF does is twofold. First, it helps existing neurons. It also helps in the development of new neurons and synapses. This results in the improvement of memory, higher order thinking, and the ability to learn new things.
Let Your Brain Tell You What it Needs
Re: Brain, a new wearable gadget and accompanying smartphone app, was designed by Actum Tech to help improve your brain’s function. The wearable portion is a headset that uses EEG technology. It collects information on the wearer’s brain function as they engage in their daily activities. The information gathered is then passed along to the app where it is analyzed.
In addition to collecting information from the wearable device, the app also interacts with the user. The wearer then receives information on activities they can engage in to improve memory, increase relaxation, improve brain efficiency, increase thinking skills, and more. The tool also provides users with clear information on their current level of brain functionality.
Be Open to New Experiences
Just like challenging yourself is key to brain growth and improved function, experiencing new things can have the same effect. To make this work, you have to take the same approach as you do with challenging yourself.
Keep in mind that once you’ve experienced something new, it’s no longer new. Therefore, it no longer has the brain boosting benefit. This means that you have to continually find new experiences. Fortunately, there really is no limit to the new things that you can experience. These include:
- Traveling to new places.
- Cooking new recipes.
- Exploring new neighborhoods.
- Taking a class.
- Going to the theater or symphony for the first time
Try Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the only kind of meditation that has been shown to cause physical changes to your brain. While other forms of meditation often involve imagining soothing or relaxing scenarios, or simply clearing your brain, mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves being present, aware, and in the moment. For example, someone feeling upset at something might engage in mindfulness by focusing on and acknowledging their increased heart rate and breathing.
It’s been shown that people who engage in mindfulness meditation are better able to control their emotions. This form of meditation changes the way that the parts of the brain work together, and can even alter thought patterns.
Drinking Coffee Really Does Clear Your Mind
The coffee drinkers amongst us often say things like, ‘I can’t think before I’ve had my first cup.’
This might be a bit of hyperbole, but the truth is they really are onto something. Coffee is a stimulant that powers up your brain’s neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters are key to increasing your brain’s processing speed. Drinking coffee can also increase your memory. These are just the immediate effects. Research is still being conducted, but there is evidence that drinking coffee could play a role in preventing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Get Creative And Curious
According to the University of Michigan, children who engage in art and music are more likely to become inventors when they get older. They’re also more likely to become entrepreneurs, or simply innovative adults.
While involvement in creative activities is most beneficial when it begins in childhood, there are still brain benefits for adults as well. Activities such as creative writing and drawing cause the brain to develop more synaptic connections. Even reading fiction novels can help people to improve their ability to feel empathy, increase imagination, and improve visualization skills.
Make Things Hard on Yourself
In many ways, technology has taken away our need to think. We don’t spend nearly as much time problem solving, for example, as our ancestors did. That’s a good thing. Our ancestors didn’t necessarily live enviable lives. Unfortunately, when it comes to our brains, there’s a danger of atrophy. Just like a weightlifter who ignores entire parts of their body, the parts of our brain that deal with problem solving or improvising can get weak through lack of use.
What can you do? Think twice before you take the easiest and most automated way of doing something. For example, if your laptop is sluggish, don’t rush off to your local computer repair place. Pull out your manual, start researching the issue online, and see if you can fix the issue yourself. When you buy a piece of furniture, skip the option of having the store assemble it. Do it yourself as well.
Rethink Your Hatred of Kale
What you eat impacts your brain’s performance. This is something we’ve known for a long time. Now it appears that eating vegetables can really have a significant impact on the brain, especially when it comes to memory. Studies have shown that people who eat plenty of vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, are much less likely to develop age related memory problems.
There are other foods that have brain benefits as well including:
- Salmon and other fatty fish
Learn to Play an Instrument
Musicians literally have bigger brains than the rest of us. This is because learning to play music, along with the act of playing music itself causes physical changes that result in an increase in the size of the brain. Specifically, the motor cortices and the cerebellum are affected.
The increase in these parts occur because these are the areas of your brain that control hand movement, memory, even hearing. This results in improved brain function, especially in the areas of being able better negotiate and interpret social situations. Playing an instrument can also increase your verbal memory.
Address Your Chronic Stress
Intermittent stress can be a good thing. It alerts us to potential danger, and puts us in fight or flight mode. There are cases where this is valuable, possibly even life saving. The problem comes when stress is chronic.
When you are under stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. When your body produces too much too often, it can have a damaging effect on your brain. Chronic stress at an early age can cause stress and mood disorders.
Meditation and yoga are just two activities that you can use to reduce chronic stress. Other things you can do include making lifestyle changes that result in reducing the number of stress factors impacting your daily life.
Meet New People
Connect with as many people as possible. Do this online and in real life. You’ll be exposed to new ideas, beliefs, problems, and perceptions. When this happens you create so many opportunities to challenge yourself, and improve your brainpower. In fact, this is the activity that makes it most likely that you will be able to engage in many of the other tasks and exercises mentioned on this list.
So, join clubs, take a new class, accept party invitations, or even join one of those meetup groups that have group activities for people with common interests. You’ll be exposed to new people, opportunities, and experiences.
The great thing about the thirteen techniques listed here is that they are doable for virtually anybody. These are strategies that can be applied almost immediately on a daily basis. By engaging in at least a few of these, you can help your brain to function better, and improve your performance in many areas of your life.