In a hyper-competitive world overflowing with information, our brains need to be able to keep up and outpace our competitors. Who doesn’t want their brain to process faster, remember more information or be able to come up with elegant solutions to complex problems? Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am. Our brains more or less define our existence and who we are. So how can we get our brains to work better, faster and more efficiently?
Here are seven habits that will help improve your brain function:
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercising promotes blood flow, cardiac health and releases beneficial hormones and proteins into your body. These hormones and proteins protect your neurons, which are the cells that make up most of your brain, and encourage them to multiply and make new connections. Studies have shown that exercise helps you learn faster and remember more information. Further studies have shown that exercise helps your brain work faster and more efficiently.
2. A Good Night’s Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can help you integrate experiences and learning you experienced throughout the day and increase the retention of information. Your brain replays events from the day and helps commit them to memory during sleep. Lack of sleep inhibits brain function and slows down your thinking and ability to retrieve memories. Sleeping helps you feel refreshed and focus on solving complex problems without the fog of mental exhaustion.
3. Focus On One Task At A Time
You can do one thing really well or three things poorly. Focus on one task at a time so you can apply your brain’s full potential to solving that problem before moving on to the next problem. Don’t divide your mental energy among several things, but instead focus like a laser on one to the exclusion of everything else until it is accomplished. In this way, you can maximize your brain’s efforts for the best outcome.
4. Maintain Motivation
Staying motivated helps to limit distractions and to maintain focus on your objective. Listen to some motivating music when you feel discouraged. Watch a motivational speech from your favorite movie to help you get your energy up. Do whatever it takes to keep your mental energy up and working towards finishing your task or moving toward your objective. If you need a break from your work, then get up and take a short walk to clear your mind. Go get something to eat and get your body recharged to try and maintain that motivation to finish your work. Sometimes, a fresh start is really what you need to finish.
5. Limit Distractions and Excess Information
We are surrounded by information these days and it is easy to get sidetracked by social media or news. It is easy to get sidetracked by watching videos or reading articles when you should be working or thinking about something else. When you are working on your project or task, try to limit outside distractions. Turn off your Wi-Fi, turn off your TV, turn off that podcast and concentrate on what you are doing. Limiting distractions helps to maintain focus and keep your mental energy up by not wasting that energy processing unnecessary information.
6. Play Challenging Puzzle Games
In your free time, try playing challenging puzzle games that require creative thought and intense concentration. These types of games can increase our mental abilities and encourage creative solutions to difficult problems. These types of games will also better your task-switching skills and increase your ability to adapt to new situations and problems. Challenging games push your brain to think more creatively, think faster and process information better. Games can be integral in maintaining brain health and even preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Manage Your Stress
Stress can severely inhibit your ability to think. By managing your stress well, you increase your brain’s endurance and ability to think when under pressure. Make sure to take time for yourself during the week to relax or relieve stress. Get a massage, go for a relaxing walk in the park, or relax with a light read on the couch. By managing your stress, you limit the release of cortisol which can wear away at the short term memory part of your brain. Immediate stress also reduces your ability to think clearly by releasing hormones and preparing you to fight or flee. Those hormones can also elicit emotional responses such as anger or fear, which further reduce your ability to think clearly. You think best and most efficiently when you are calm and your emotional state is balanced.