Whether you want to strengthen your memory or develop laser focus to improve productivity, the good news is there are some aspects of your brain health that you may be able to control.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a busy parent, competitive athlete, grad school student, or self-admitting workaholic, here are six things you can do – TODAY – to improve your brain health.
#1 Try Brain Training
If a casual Saturday morning stroll has you feeling winded, you might decide, “Maybe I should get on the treadmill a little more often.”
But when the brain feels foggy, most people don’t think about exercising it the same way they would exercise their heart or their legs.
Brain training can take many different forms. Crossword puzzles, Rubik’s cubes, Sudoku, and other math and word games may fall under the umbrella of brain training. However, if you want to focus your efforts for better potential results, look into a brain training program developed under clinical guidance.
#2 Stay Mentally Active
It’s easy to come home from work and watch TV, drink a glass of wine, and relax. While relaxation certainly has a place (your brain needs it!), it’s important to stay mentally active every day.
Cook a new recipe. Memorize a new song. Try to understand a point of view that challenges your beliefs. Try to pry a kid’s toy out of its store packaging!
#3 Quit Smoking
If you smoke, quit. You already know that smoking increases risk for various cancers, heart disease, and other diseases. But did you know that according to many studies, smoking can also significantly increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease?
While any amount of tobacco use could have negative effects on the brain, some studies have shown that higher tobacco use can increase risks associated with dementia. If you’re a smoker, can you start by smoking one less cigarette today than normal?
#4 Sleep Well
The phrase, “let me sleep on it,” isn’t just one of those odd idioms like “spill the beans” that’s made its way into our conversation! Our brains actually do need to sleep on some information in order to fully process it.
When we go to sleep, our brains don’t shut off. Instead, they’re actively categorizing and filing away information from the day. Quality sleep can help improve brain health by making you more alert and sharpening your memory.
#5 Laugh Often
Laughter is the best medicine, right? Researchers have found that laughing can improve short-term memory (and reduce stress levels). Even better than laughing at a TV show or a cat video? Laughing with friends or family.
While the simple act of laughter is good, the social bonds that are strengthened during these experiences are an added bonus for brain health.
#6 Believe In Possibilities
When we set limits for ourselves, we fail to go beyond. Set higher goals than you normally would. Believe that you’re capable of surprising yourself. When you stretch yourself and remain open to greater possibilities, you force your brain to become more active and engaged in pursuit of a higher goal.