Your brain is a complex organ. It is the controller of your body, your thoughts, your state of mind and your ultimately your life. There are some who abuse it, some who under- use it, and some who overuse it to the point of meltdown.
In this article we’ll look at dozens of tactics that will help you maintain your brain into old age and help to increase your mental agility and cognitive development.
- Don’t try and multitask; it can’t be done.
Our brains can only focus and concentrate on one thing at a time, this is a proven scientific fact. While you can most likely handle multiple menial tasks, anything that requires you to concentrate, reason, or decide deserves full focus.
- Exercise your brain, not just your body.
A lot of us leave learning behind when we leave school, college or university. Keep the brain fit by learning something new, whether it be a language, a new skill or musical instrument.
- The world is a mystery.
Use your brain to constantly ask questions and explore your surroundings. Continually exercise your brain by not accepting everything you see and hear: question it and free your sense of curiosity.
- Use both hemispheres
Use the left hemisphere of your brain to practice logical, mathematical problems in your life. Use the right hemisphere to unleash your creativity. You will know what side is dominant so make it a point to practice using your non dominant hemisphere.
- Get to know your sleeping pattern.
Your brain needs sleep as much as your body but everybody is different. I function on 5-6 hours you might work best on 8-9 hours.
- Feed your brain decent information.
Your brain is learning throughout the night, so give it something worthwhile to feed it. Our brain is not restoring energy whilst we are sleeping it is cutting out the noise and going over the days events and processing it; give it some great material to process.
- If you want to learn more whilst studying, start pacing.
If you are reading a book, start pacing. Movement gets the blood flowing and this helps oxygenate your brain. I walked my way through university and have taught my sons study walking to help them memorize information.
- You’ve heard it before.
Exercise is probably the number 1 way to increase the brains capabilities in every way possible, from memory to creativity. There’s no getting around it, we all need to exercise.
- Keep Social
Staying socially active has been shown to keep your brain sharp well into old age.
- Use the internet to keep your brain active.
A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centers in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning.
- Eat dark chocolate.
- Yes, eating dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial for releasing an important brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine aids in learning and memory.
- Learn a song.
Learn the lyrics of some of your favorite songs to keep your listening skills and memory skills alive.
- Watch brain stimulating movies.
Movies that make you think (such as mysteries) help keep your brain and mind active.
- Play video games
This has been shown to increase cognitive abilities and can help fight Alzheimer’s.
- Practice doing things with your non-dominant hand.
This stimulates the brain in many areas and also can be quite fun.
- Use meditation as a way to alleviate your stress.
There are thousands of studies about the beneficial effects of mediation and keeping your stress levels down is good for you. You lose brain cells the more stressed you feel, so controlling stress levels is important.
- Laugh as often as possible.
Laughing out loud boosts the immune system and releases endorphins, the bodies feel good chemicals.
- Think positive.
Thinking positively is a great way to keep your brain alive. Constant negative thinking depresses the mind and goes on to literally depress the immune system. Thinking more positive thoughts is a good way to keep stress down and spur you to take action for a better life.
- Practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude can increase your happiness level significantly which helps to alleviate stress which helps your whole brain and body.
- Sex is another great way to keep your cardiovascular system healthy which means more oxygen to your brain which keeps the brain healthy.
- Read a great book.
No matter what type of books you read, they are all beneficial in keeping your brain healthy and active and ward off the aging process.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Alcohol in moderation can actually be good for the brain, however too much alcohol can kill brain cells and your ability to be able to think and reason effectively.
A lot of people look forward to giving up work as we get older, however, working even in a part time job can keep the mind active. If you are retired you can do volunteer work to keep you active.
- Keep up to date with current events and news.
- Keeping your brain fit is about feeding your mind with new information. Watching current affairs programs can help with this so long as they don’t stress you out.
- Listen to music.
- Listening to music that you wouldn’t normally listen to is another good way to keep your brain active. Music has the ability to release positive emotions in you.
Dancing is a great all around for both mind and body. Learning s a new dance helps your cognitive skills, your spatial awareness, your social skills, your motor skills and helps keeps your body healthy.
- Throw a ball.
Throwing and catching a ball is great for sensory-guided movement. It can improve your brain’s visual, tactile and hand-eye coordination responses and keep them sharp well into old age.
- Eat well.
Eating certain types of food can really be beneficial to your brains chemistry. Avoid fatty foods and eat more vegetables and fruit. This is sound advice for brain and body.
- Drink plenty of water.
Drinking water helps the cells function properly and keeps you feeling hydrated from the inside out.
- Have a cup of tea.
Drinking tea, hot or cold, can stimulate your brain in many ways. Tea contains caffeine which can be good for you if drunk in moderation.
- Take a trip.
Have you always fancies traveling well it has been shown that traveling really does broaden your horizons.
- Use your debating skills.
Having friendly debates with friends and family can improve your logical, thinking, reasoning and creativity skills.
- Sleep a little longer.
Sleeping an extra few hours every now and again is good for rejuvenating your brain and help you learn faster.
- Take naps.
Taking a nap throughout the day can help keep you from feeling tired and help stave off ‘brain fog’. A ten minute nap will do to help you function throughout the day.
- Turn down the TV.
If you watch a lot of TV turn it down to hone your listening and concentration skills.
- Break the cycle.
If you tend to do the same thing day in day out, try and break the pattern of your activities. Your brain relies on doing something different to keep it active, break your normal routine to do this.
- Learn a new word.
Learning anything new will help keep your brain healthy. Learning a new word each day is a simple way to accomplish this.
- Look at old photographs.
This is a great way to keep your memories alive and to strengthen cell connections within the brain.
- Do something outrageous.
Doing things we would normally never do like a bungee jump, a parachute jump, hill climbing, a helicopter ride, etc., will keep your brain alive, literally.
- Train your brain.
The ‘cogni-fit‘ industry is huge and is growing every year and for good reason. Start playing some of these ‘cogni-fit’ games to keep your brain healthy and active.
- Take supplements.
Supplements like omega-3, folic acid with vitamin B-12, CoEnzyme Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and an all round strong multi-vitamin supplement, has been shown to slow down the aging process. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
- A simple mindfulness exercise is to just sit and relax and pay attention to your breathing. This helps to promote relaxation, keep your mind focused, helps with concentration and does the body a world of good.
- Develop critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking involves you asking questions of yourself and the world around and looking for evidence of your assumptions.
- Become a philosopher.
Not literally, but start thinking about the bigger questions in life. This develops your brain on many levels. More than likely you will never come up with a definitive answer to the big questions but it keeps your brain and mind active.
- Make your own affirmations.
Affirmations are a great way to keep your mind focused on your life goals. When you use affirmations you are also using your imagination, and activating other regions in your brain which can help with memory, creativity and even releasing feel good chemicals.
- Thinking outside the box.
I always thought this was a strange saying as you cannot really think outside the box when you are always living inside the box of knowledge. However over the years I have come to realize it really means thinking without using your reasoning skills to look for alternatives and it can be a great way to keep your mind active.
- Sing out loud.
- Singing is a great way to help you focus and get rid of stress. People who sing out loud feel happier as they are not internalizing thoughts but focusing on an ext renal action, their voice. It also aids memory.
Scientists now know that our brains continuously make new neurons throughout our lives and it does this in response to the what we do in our lives. Neurons are important for transmitting and making connections with other cells. If we lose the neurons, we lose the power to think properly, to use our creativity, to learn, to memorize effectively, basically our brains slowly die. Exercise and brain stimulation is one of the best ways to keep making these new neurons. Using some of the examples above you will keep your brain healthy and active for years to come.
|Written on 9/15/2009 by Steven Aitchison. Steven is the Author of Change Your Thoughts and works as an alcohol and drugs counselor. He has a BSc in Psychology and has a passion for studying belief formation, thought processes and values and principles. Article republished on 2/16/2011.||Photo Credit: James Wheare|