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7 Steps That Will Power Up Your Brain

7 Steps That Will Power Up Your Brain

Whether you are a student looking for more efficient ways to digest what your teachers say, an adult trying to become more efficient at work or a senior citizen striving to maintain an active lifestyle, keeping your brain in shape is an important part of any self-improvement project.

Good news is that there are ways to make yourself smarter, improve your memory and physically develop your brain – and here are some of them.

1. Exercise

No, we don’t mean any kind of cognitive exercise, although these certainly won’t hurt. What we mean is just plain old physical jerks, preferably done regularly.

Performing physical activities increases blood flow to the brain, encourages the production of nerve-protecting compounds, lessens the risks of cardiovascular diseases that hamper brain function and can lead to stroke – in other words, you simply can’t go wrong by moving about, the more the better.

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2. Consume Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats such as Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, are extremely important for the proper functioning of your entire organism and brain in particular – and, at the same time, they cannot be synthesized by your body.

The only way to get them is to consume them with food – but, unfortunately, products that contain high amounts of Omega-3 fats (e.g., fish, liver, brain) don’t play an important role in an average person’s diet. Low Omega-3 intake can even lead to an early onset of Alzeimer’s disease, and vice versa – people consuming high amounts of DHA are significantly less susceptible to it.

3. Use Nootropics

For a long time, people have been looking for a wonder drug that would heighten their brain capacity, make them cleverer and improve their efficiency in other ways. Perhaps nootropics cannot quite be called wonder brain drugs, but they are certainly the closest thing we have to this ideal.

Different nootropics have different sets of effects, but in general, they are known to improve memory, both long-term and short-term, spatial awareness, learning capacity, logical thinking, coordination, reflexes and much more.

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4. Write by Hands

In our hectic age of texting and printing, advising somebody to write by hand may sound ridiculous, but facts cannot be changed by our attitude. And the facts suggest that writing by hand and reading handwritten notes develop brain areas that remain dormant when we type and read printed text.

In short term, you are likely to better remember the things you’ve written down. In the longer term, you will get generally better memory retention, analytical skills and pattern recognition.

5. Eat More Products with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for developing and maintaining areas of the brain responsible for planning, memory formation and information processing. You can boost your vitamin D simply by being in the sun more – proper sun exposure increases the rates at which your body produces this vitamin.

If it is impossible in your circumstances (for example, if you live in a location where sunny days are few and far between), you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

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6. Try out a New Experience

For example, master a completely new skill, take part in an activity you’ve never tried before, start learning a foreign language – whatever takes your fancy. Perhaps there is something you keep putting off until you have more time – why not do it right now, and benefit from it as well?

Mastering a new skill creates new neuron routes in your brain – in addition to the new skill per se, you will get an improved ability to learn in general.

7. Exercise Your Brain

Finally, about some brain exercises. If you don’t use something often, you forget how to do it – which is just as true for using your brain. It is amazing how dependent on various devices we became in a fairly short period of time.

So, if you want to use any opportunity to improve your brain, stop using your smartphone for all these trivial operations: doing sums and finding your way around using GPS immediately come to mind.

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There are many ways to improve the work of your brain, ranging from simple exercises to dramatic changes in lifestyle – but if you really care about your health and efficiency, no price or effort is too big to pay.

Featured photo credit: https://stocksnap.io via d2lm6fxwu08ot6.cloudfront.net

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Melissa Burns

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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