Your brain is one of the most complex computers in the universe. Although most of its tasks and abilities are hard-wired, you still must maintain them. Boosting your brainpower may be easier than you think, and it will help improve cognitive abilities.
18 Habits That Can Contribute to Better Cognitive Abilities
Do you want to keep your mind sharp throughout your lifetime? It can be as easy as developing new habits that aren’t difficult and enjoyable. Here are 18 practices to improve your cognitive skills and other brain functions.
1. Play Games That Improve Cognitive Abilities
Who says you can’t boost your cognitive abilities and have fun simultaneously? Bring out your favorite classic board games and enjoy a family game night. Games like chess, checkers, and cards involve concentration and sharp reasoning skills.
Video games can benefit your brain function and memory when you play in moderation. According to an article published by Frontiers in Neuroscience, an occasional video game can also help your focus and motor skills.
2. Limit Your Multitasking
Multitasking seems to be the golden ability everyone wants to put on their resume. The more you can do simultaneously, the more efficient you’re. The problem is that your brain is single task-oriented, and too much multitasking can raise your stress levels.
Juggling several tasks at once often means that you might jeopardize the quality of your work. Plus, you don’t always get the satisfaction of completing a job well done. Less brain stress can improve your cognitive abilities and benefit your productivity in the long run.
3. Minimize Your Sugar Intake
Are you one of those people with an insatiable sweet tooth? It can be challenging to keep your eating habits in check when you’re craving a sugary treat. Sugar may be okay for rare occasions, but it can wreak havoc on your health in excess.
A study published by Clinical Intervention in Aging suggests that consuming sugary foods may impair cognitive skills. It can especially be an issue for older adults, as stated in the article. Try your best to limit your daily sugar intake and read labels carefully for hidden sugars, like anything ending with “ose.”
4. Get Enough Sleep to Increase Your Cognitive Abilities
You couldn’t survive past a couple of minutes if your brain went to sleep. Fortunately, your brain powers down when you’re asleep and only maintains vital functions. It also uses this time to recharge, revitalize neurons, and file essential memories.
When you don’t get enough sleep at night, your challenge your brain in the wrong ways, as it doesn’t get the rest it needs. That means your neurotransmitters don’t get optimized, and your cognitive abilities may decline over time. Remember to get at least six to eight hours of quality sleep for your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
5. Enjoy a Glass of Wine
Perhaps the Europeans knew long ago that a bit of wine was good for the body. It turns out that a daily glass of wine has many benefits, such as improving cognitive abilities.
According to a study published by the University of Rochester, alcohol in moderation can benefit your brain. It may reduce inflammation and help your brain eliminate toxins. However, excess alcohol can have the opposite effect, warns the article.
6. Try to Exercise Each Day
Your body is a living machine that requires proper food for fuel and daily exercise for optimal performance. Changing your daily exercise routine may be a practical challenge to your memory.
Aerobic exercises may improve blood and oxygen flow to your brain. Plus, a good workout can release endorphins to boost your mood. Just a simple walk for 15 minutes can get your body moving and your mind clicking.
7. Put on Your Dancing Shoes
Dancing is a natural response to the beat of the music. It’s a lot of fun and is an excellent exercise for all ages. Did you know that getting on your groove can also improve your cognitive abilities?
An article published by the Journal of American Geriatric Society states that exercising and dance may boost cognitive performance, verbal fluency, and working memory. Turn on some of your favorite music and dance to your heart’s content.
8. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument
Did you play a musical instrument in a high school band and never pick it up again? Maybe you’ve always wanted to play an instrument but were afraid you weren’t good enough. Don’t let hesitation stand in your way of a life-enriching skill.
No matter which instruments you want to play, you can do it. Take professional lessons or watch online tutorials. Learning music notation and playing can improve your cognitive abilities and boost your creativity.
9. Socialize with Family and Friends
Socializing and belonging is basic human need, not just a suggestion. Even confirmed loners can benefit from connecting with someone. These social bonds can positively affect your life and improve your cognitive abilities.
Interacting within your circle of family and friends helps build trust and empathy. You can also learn fascinating things by talking with people from different walks of life. Socializing can keep you mentally sharp and well-rounded.
10. Practice Yoga or Tai Chi to Enhance Cognitive Abilities
The ancient yoga and tai chi practices offer a balance of body, mind, and spirit. They involve smooth movements and poses that strengthen your bones, muscles, and joints and give you more flexibility. You’ll also discover mindful breathing and how to live in the moment.
Another benefit of yoga, tai chi, and other movement practice is improving brain functions. A study published by Cambridge University Publishing cites a possible link between yoga, memory function, and mood. The study also suggested the need for more studies.
11. Take a Power Nap
Taking a little nap during the day doesn’t mean you’re a lazy person. You’ll often recharge your batteries and perform better for the rest of the day. Your brain could use some extra downtime to improve your cognitive functions.
Try resting for about fifteen to twenty minutes on a break and see how you feel. The chances are that you will refresh your mind and improve your mood. Don’t nap for too long because it can affect your sleep at night.
12. Work Puzzles Improve Cognitive Abilities
There’s a reason they often call word puzzles “brain teasers.” Boredom is your brain’s worst enemy, and it thrives on challenges. Improve your cognitive skills and memory with crossword puzzles, riddles, sudoku, or any fun way to make you think.
13. Enjoy Arts and Crafts
You needn’t be a world-famous artist to enjoy doing something creative. Arts and crafts are ideal for relaxing and tapping into your creative inspiration. They also provide hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills that will benefit other areas of your life.
14. Learn A Foreign Language
The world is a fascinating place overflowing with diversity in culture. Have you ever wanted to learn a foreign language? Now’s the best time to start, whether from a teacher or online programs.
Learning another language challenges your mind to learn new words and concepts. It is a detailed comparison between vocabulary and syntax that builds brainpower. Speaking a foreign language can also open new doors for you to travel or talk to people from other countries.
15. Savor a Bite of Dark Chocolate
If you ever need an excuse to divulge in a little taste of heaven, this is it. There’s been some preliminary research that suggests a link between dark chocolate and health benefits. An article published by the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology mentions that flavanol in dark chocolate may improve cognitive tasks, but the research is still in the preliminary stages.
16. Eat a Balanced Diet
Since you’re what you eat, it only makes sense to eat what’s best for you. A nutritionally balanced diet keeps your body strong and healthy and benefits your brain health. Your brain needs protein, vitamins, and minerals to thrive and boost your thinking and memory abilities.
17. Spend Time Outdoors
When you feel the pressures of work and home overwhelming your mind, it’s time for a break. There’s nothing quite like going outside and walking among the stunning beauty nature offers. Among the majestic trees, colorful flowers, and the harmony of the birds, you’ll discover unfathomable tranquility.
Not only will you be giving your nerves some respite, but you can also improve your brain functions. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature can improve your cognition and mental health.
18. Practice Meditation to Support Cognitive Abilities
Meditation is an Eastern practice that goes back thousands of years. Nevertheless, its benefits are just as relevant today. It helps calm your mind and allows intrusive thoughts to pass like billowing clouds. You’re more in tune with your inner voice when you meditate, and you discover the joy of simply “being.”
Another possible benefit of this ancient practice is that it may positively affect your brain functions. An article published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Science reports promising benefits of meditation on cognitive skills. Per the article, it may also improve memory, processing speed, and attention.
Final Thoughts on Habits to Improve Your Cognitive Abilities
When you challenge your brain with daily habits like these, you may notice a positive difference. You may have better mental clarity, focus, and problem-solving skills. Paying attention to your brain health may help minimize cognitive decline as you get older.