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6 Habits To Largely Improve Your Memory and Brain Power

6 Habits To Largely Improve Your Memory and Brain Power

Would you like to become smarter? Remember things easier? Increase your brain’s overall strength? Good news! I’m going to show you six things you can start doing immediately that will improve your memory, strengthen your cognitive abilities and make you smarter!

Before I start with the six, I must tell you about the one thing that relates to all of them…being mindful.

The most important thing you can do to increase your brain power and memory is to be mindful.

This is basically paying attention on purpose. Being mindful is scientifically proven to increase the gray matter in your brain. Gray matter allows you to think clearer and remember more. The reason I don’t have mindfulness as one of my points is because you have to be mindful to do any of these things!

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Maximize Your Sleep Cycle

We sleep 1/3 of our life, or at least we are supposed to. When we sleep, we go through a cycle which include 3 stages. Each stage is 30 minutes (90 minutes per cycle), and the cycle repeats itself throughout the night. The first stage is light sleep, the first 30 minutes, and this occurs when we first fall asleep. The next stage is deep sleep, between 30-60 minutes, and in deep sleep our body heals itself. It does this by releasing the hormone HGH which repairs what the body needs repairing. If you are sore from working out, this is the stage that makes you not sore in the morning.

The final stage, or Stage 3, is the famous REM stage which occurs between 60-90 minutes. This is the stage that repairs our brains. REM is known as the dreaming stage, but is also the stage where it categorizing your thoughts and memories. During the night the cycles treat different stages with different priorities.

Your body is the first thing to heal and then it moves to the brain. This is why they say it is crucially Important to get 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep a night. The average American gets 6.8 and lives in a sleep debt most of their life.

Implementing – Do your best to get 7.5 hours of sleep and if you need to take a nap, take one! If you are one of those people that think sleep is weak and you run just fine on your 6 hours, try getting 7.5 and see how efficient you are, how much better you feel, and notice how good your mood is throughout the day!

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Maximize Your Food Intake

You get out what you put in! If you want your car to perform at its best, you put in high octane fuel. If you want your body and brain to perform at its best, you put in high octane food. Begin by cutting down on the amount of food you consume at one time. If you normally eat three larger meals, cut those down to six smaller meals throughout the day. Our brain works best with 25grams of glucose at one time…that is basically a banana. There are also plenty of foods that release hormones like dopamine that make us feel good. Some say two handfuls of cashews equals an antidepressant pill. Although they may be a stretch, why are you not snacking on cashews all day?

Implementing – First, cut down on the size of the meals you are eating! Next, simply think about what you are putting in your body. Everything you put in makes your feel differently, so put in the good stuff! Finally, if you are not sure, look it up. Google is at your fingertips, so use it… your body and brain will thank you!

Write it Down

When you physically write things down your brain looks at it differently than if you type it into your phone or computer. When you actually write it down, it cements it into your brain. When I was in high school I wasn’t a very good student and when it came time to take tests, I always made cheat sheets.

The fascinating thing was I never used them. About an hour before the test, I would look at the possible questions and write down the answers on a small piece of paper. I would then put the paper in my pocket and plan on pulling it out when it was time to retrieve the answer. The thing was, when I would read a question, the answer would come right to me because I had just written it down. I could visualize how I wrote it, and where I wrote it down on the cheat sheet.

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Implementing – There are several ways to start doing this. My favorite is write down tomorrow’s activities/responsibilities the night before. What this does is release any worry about what you have to do the next day and you will sleep like a baby! It also allows you to wake up the next day and just follow a schedule…no-brainer! Even though it is better to write things down by hand, have an app on your phone where you can always jot things down when they come to mind. We have so many great ideas that come and go, if you don’t capture them, you may lose it forever!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Getting out of your comfort zone, trying new things, or putting yourself “out there” has an effect on the way your brain sees things. Your brain reacts differently in new environments than when you stay in the same place. When your brain sees the same things all the time, it goes into auto-pilot. It has seen it before so it doesn’t have to work to understand. When you change your scenery, your brain starts to see new things and perceive things differently. It does this because it has to “pay attention.” This is where the magic happens.

What I mean by that, is there are things we all have in our heads which we have no answer for. We may be working on a project or just something you know you are missing and when we introduce our brain to new environments those missing pieces sometimes come to the surface…it’s amazing!

Implementing – This can be done so many different way, but the easiest answer is switching up a routine a bit. A few examples are driving home and working out. Instead of driving home the exact same way, even if it takes you another 5 minutes, take an alternative route to shake up the brain. If you exercise, that’s next; you should change up your routine a bit. Instead of running the same route or the same time and miles per hour on the treadmill, shake it up a bit. You can also add in a new form of exercise to do the same.

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Exercise

Besides being great for our body, exercising is amazing for our brain. When we exercise, our brains release endorphins that make us feel good. It also decreases our stress which eliminates the bad hormone cortisol, which I like to call the “dumb” hormone. Cortisol clouds our thinking and decreases our cognitive ability. So, to feel better and think clearer, jump on that treadmill, lift those weights, get to that yoga class or whatever form of exercise you choose is right for you.

Implementing – If you don’t already, start exercising! You don’t have to go to a gym to exercise, there are plenty of workouts you can perform in the privacy of your own home. Beyond that, make conscious decisions to be more active. Take the stairs not the elevator, park away from the building instead of hunting for the best spot, and get up and take a walk every now and again…your body and brain will thank you!

Slow Down

Slowing down may sound like something a lazy person would tell you, but in fact here is why it helps. Being “busy” or “multitasking” are two of the least productive things you can do. When you slow down and mindfully concentrate on one task at a time, you give it 100%. When you multitask two things, you do each at 50% and when you do three, it is 33%, you get the picture. Besides doing the job better and more efficiently, you become less stressed which, yes, eliminates the cortisol in your brain. As we know this allows you to think clearer which will produce less errors. So, in fact, when you slow down you actually increase your productivity.

Implementing – This one is pretty simple, but for some reason one of the hardest. We are so “trained” to go fast, and get things done, but it is that mentality that creates the mess! So, write down the things your are going to do in the next hour/day and mindfully do them one at a time. You will find that you feel better as you get each one done and more relaxed. Slow down and enjoy life!

Start implementing these six habits and you will not only see your brain power and memory increase, you will see your mood lift like never before. So be mindful, put these to work and I’ll see you at the top!

Featured photo credit: Business Bootcamp by Sebastiaan ter Burg via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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