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.
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.
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.
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.
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