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7 Actionable Tips To Help Your Brain Function At It’s Highest Level

7 Actionable Tips To Help Your Brain Function At It’s Highest Level

The mind is an incredible and powerful thing, and half of the reason why it’s so amazing is it’s elasticity for performance. Someone one day can be ON, and the next day they might feel like they’re in a fog from not having their morning coffee. It’s a wonder we have all of these amazing tools at our disposal to help us think sharply, but unfortunately, many people never use them. The following aren’t just ‘healthy’ options to help your brain– they truly help you think more clearly, and give you energy.

1. Proper nutrition, particularly healthy fats like fish oil

This is something many people will skip, they will go right into the energy drinks when they feel tired, without ever having to consider that maybe it’s their diet that is off. But not only does nutrition have a crazy amount to do with fitness and fat-loss – healthy foods, particularly fish and supplements like fish oil, are used to help treat depression and cognitive decline according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Take 3 fish oil capsules in the morning with your coffee to get these essential fatty acids. 

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2. B6, B12 and Folic Acid (B9)

Vitamins aren’t the easiest, quickest fix – but according to Mercola, Health Company B-vitamins are so integral to brain function that they can slow brain shrinkage and even help treat dementia. If you’ve been experiencing fatigue or mental fog, then you may have deficiencies in some key nutrients.

Take all three of these vitamins with the fish oil to keep your energy and cognitive abilities at their peak throughout the day. 

3. Exercise daily for at least 20 minutes

This is a particularly underrated opportunity for people even during their lunch hour, according to Search Services, who say that they communally do exercises in the office and take walks to loosen up the mind and keep them sharp. Sometimes taking 20 minutes away from your work space to get your blood flowing is exactly what is needed.

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As part of your routine you should include: A 20 minute run/walk every morning, as long as your heart is pumping you don’t need to be running the entire time. Try intervals, which include running and walking intermittently. 

4. Volunteer & socialize

Getting out in the world and mingling with people is very good for your brain, particularly when you’re all doing something constructive to help the community. According to the site Prevention – “Essentially, it’s a drug-free way to keep you feeling young.” and 65.4 million Americans are volunteering every year.

Take, when possible, one trip to the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Volunteer an afternoon with your coworkers, or with 2 or 3 of your friends.  

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5. Read on a regular basis

The Open Education Database touts a surprising amount of cognitive benefits. They say, ‘Story structure encourages our brains to think in sequence, expanding our attention spans.’ Neuroscientists also encourage parents to have their kids read or read to them, as it helps encourage story structure and counter issues regarding short attention spans.

Take a moment out of your busy week to read something that excites you, like a well-written novel or a book on a new topic you’re interested in.

6. Try new hobbies and interests that challenge you

Beyond fitness – many hobbies that challenge you like sudoku, puzzles, cooking, playing music, or meditating can allow your cognitive function to be working at peak capacity. According to Goals.com, these types of hobbies and interests can help with things like multi-tasking, creativity, and allow us to consider new perspectives, as well as stimulate visual and tactical responses.

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Take up a new hobby every couple of months, and do your best to mix the enjoyment of a new experience with the aspect of having a good challenge.

7. Get the appropriate amount of sleep

Don’t balk at the basics. The amount and rhythm of your sleep are integrally linked to mental health, according to a Ted Talk by Russell Foster. We’ve all had one of those days where we’ve only gotten 4 hours of sleep, made our way into a room, before completely forgetting what we initially intended on doing. We are not superheroes, most of us need to get 6 to 9 hours of sleep. Increments of 1.5 hours of sleep are considered a general rule of thumb for a sleep cycle according to Psych Digest. Therefore, waking up after 7.5 hours or 9 hours of sleep will help you keep feeling refreshed. This is due to the fact that these times are in between the points of your deepest sleep. This routine would be much better for you than say, waking up after 8 hours or 9.5 hours of sleep, only interrupting yourself in the midst of a sleep cycle.

Take some time at night to wind down, set your phone away from your bed and/or find out what works for you – your best sleep will come when you find and stick to a pattern, rather than changing your routine all the time.

Best of luck finding the tips that work for you. The process of finding ways to increase brain function and cognitive ability is very fun, and whether you do all of the things above, or just some, I hope that it’s effective and that it yields you interesting results!

Featured photo credit: Pic Jumbo via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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