The level of memory, intelligence, and focus of a person constantly changes depending on the daily habits one adopts. The more we use our brains, the more they perform and vice versa. Below are habits that can boost concentration, thinking, memory and overall cognitive function, writes Evelyn Makena
1. Limit multitasking
Multitasking may be good in helping getting many things done at a go, but it’s unhealthy for your brain. Undertaking many tasks at the same time diminishes mental productivity, contributes to stress and increases brain fatigue.
One is also prone to errors while multitasking, getting confused and forgetting. For better brain function, tasks are best performed one by one for improved mindfulness.
2. Learn a new skill
Any experience outside the norm helps the brain grow. Learning a new language, using a different route home, finding a new hobby, whipping up a meal from a recipe may all initially feel uncomfortable, but they help our brains grow.
Engaging in a new activity helps the brain develop more neural pathways enabling it to grow and develop. New experiences literally stretch the brain, counter the effects of stress related illnesses, and enhance health and well-being.
3. Play brain games
The brain is said to be like a muscle. You either use it or lose it. In order to be mentally fit, the brain needs to be constantly engaged. Mental exercises such as solving puzzles or counting steps as you walk help the brain stay in good shape and active.
Engaging all the five senses also helps keep the mind alert. Constantly being conscious of what is in your surrounding lowers chances of memory lapses and keeps the brain engaged.
4. Feed the brain
What you eat directly affects the functioning of the brain. In order to boost brain health it is important that one takes a diet that will nourish it. Making small changes to what you do every day is all one needs to enhance brain power.
Incorporating fatty dishes such as fish, foods with probiotics, whole grains, leafy greens and more proteins are a step in the right direction. Omega 3 fatty acids contained in salmon, tuna and other oily fish are good for the brain function. Omega 3 acids have ability to reduce inflammation in the brain and promote growth of new cell.
Taking time to meditate daily has overwhelming positive results on cognitive function as it increases the grey matter of the brain. It improves focus, boosts mood, and reduces stress levels. Meditating also helps slow aging of the brain and treats anxiety and depression.
You do not have to be an expert in this area—all it takes is dedicating some few minutes in the morning or during the day to mindfully focus on your breathing. The exercise will not only have positive neurological benefits, but also psychological.
6. Catch some zzz’s
You may have noticed how slowly your brain processes information when you do not sleep enough. That’s because sleep is a vital activity for the brain. The brain restores itself during sleep.
During sleep the brain also solidifies memory and repairs damaged cells to help it process things faster. A regular seven to eight hours of sleep is recommended. It’s while you catch some zzz’s that information in the brain is consolidated for deeper understanding.
7. Physical activity
Physical exercise improves memory, thinking, mood, creativity and learning. It also reduces the risk of getting depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to research, moderate exercise for just two hours a week increases volume of the part of the brain that controls memory and thinking. Regular exercise increases the size of hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Besides, exercises boost energy levels in the body to promote clarity of thought.
8. Read and write
Time spent reading helps boost the cognitive function and brain health. Reading fiction has especially been found to enhance connectivity in the brain and enhance its function as one tries to visualise what they actually cannot see.
Writing down information helps you remember it by reinforcing it. Noting something down creates oxygenated flow of blood to the part of the brain responsible for memory. Writing a journal, emails, a blog are activities that improve ability to remember and memorise information.
It’s apparent that you are more likely to forget things if you work or live in a messy environment. To clear your mind, you first start by clearing your surroundings. Getting organised by drawing a timetable, to-do lists, noting down appointments will help enhance brains ability to process and remember information. A task as simple as arranging your desk could see you realise greater brain power.
10. Avoid stress
Cortisol, which is the stress hormone has the effect of dulling memory. When the body is under stress cortisol floods the hippocampus, which is the brains memory component and hinder the ability to store and remember information. Fighting stress therefore effectively works to boost mental function by reducing cortisol to achieve accurate memories, and storing information.