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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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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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