You may not realize how much data is constantly streaming into your brain from your family, job, social media, and television.
Adding to this “white noise” is the decrease in simple tasks you once had to do yourself which are no longer necessary.
There are cell phones and computers to recall phone numbers, remind you to pay a bill and catch your spelling mistakes – robbing you of very important opportunities to improve your brain health now as well as protect it from future degeneration.
Cognitive Functions of Your Brain
Your brain is the most complex organ in your body. So complex, in fact, that scientists are still finding connections and learning how different areas of the brain work.
There are five essential cognitive functions of your brain that come into play when you want to “boost” brain power: memory, attention span, executive function, language skills and spatial concepts.
How you train your brain may depend heavily on your habits.
7 Ways to Improve Your Brain Health Right Now
1. Positive Thinking
Meditation, guided deep breathing, yoga and tai chi can help you stay “in the moment” and release the stress and anxiety from a bad day.
These activities have been proven to improve your brain health, minimize stress, lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity and improve blood flow to your entire body.
Small amounts of temporary stress is natural but too much causes an increase in the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. When those levels get too high the result is inflammation, heart disease, mental disorders and damage to your central nervous system.
Set aside at least 15 minutes each day to take deep breaths and clear your mind. The habit will literally change the way your brain processes stressors and affect your entire life – not the least of which is improving your reasoning skills.
2. Get Moving
Regular exercise – even low or no impact activities – helps your body produce more nerve cells and strengthens their communication.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNFs) are proteins that are released during physical activity and help protect the brain from oxidative damage and mutation. Basic learning skills are also improved in those who exercise regularly.
3. Laughter is Still the Best Medicine
When something makes you laugh, your brain responds by releasing endorphins – “happy” hormones” – that make you feel good inside and out.
Laughter releases stress and increases energy levels. It can be cathartic, getting pent-up emotions cleared from your system so you can go back to your life with a renewed sense of well-being.
4. Change of Scenery
If you feel sluggish, unmotivated or sleepy – get up and take a walk, dance around your house, take a drive on a road you’ve never been on before or stop by a new business in town.
Getting up from your desk and considering a problem from a different location resets the way your brain processes it. Set goals and track your progress – it trains your brain to use specific methods for problem-solving and helps you stay positive.
5. Tune In
Many studies have been done on the “Mozart Effect” – where students performed better on higher-level thinking when listening to classical music. Listening to any kind of music helps the right side of your brain “tune in” and look at situations from a different angle.
Music lovers tend to have higher IQs and are more emotionally connected to those around them. Try learning the words to a song you’ve never heard before to flex your brain – much like crunches for your abdomen.
6. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Lack of sleep has been linked to cognitive decline, mental disorders, obesity, heart disease and so much more. The importance of getting at least seven hours each day cannot be stressed enough if you wish to improve brain health.
A rested brain is an alert brain and you’ll notice drastic improvements in your ability to retain information.
Your physical and mental health depend on restful sleep each and every day. When you sleep, your brain “catalogs” what you’ve taken in while you were awake.
This is when your brain cements new memories, connects faces to names and makes notes for you to remember the next day. It is also crucial to creativity.
7. Keep Learning
Read as much as you can – especially books you might not usually consider. Exposing your brain to new writing styles, subjects you may be unfamiliar with and in genres you’ve never explored are excellent ways to “pump iron” with your brain.
Completing complex puzzles – such as crosswords – strengthens critical thinking skills and recall of past events or knowledge.
The left side of your brain loves higher-level thinking such as brain games and riddles so feed it regularly! Even jigsaw puzzles use both sides of your brain to analyze and imagine the completed picture being assembled.
With the diagnosed cases of dementia rising steadily every year, it is as important to address brain health as surely as you address high blood pressure or building muscle mass.
Keep reading to find out about the best foods to feed your brain – including one superfood that may prevent and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s!