26 Jul 2019
Staying on track with a career in life can be exhausting: spiritually, physically, mentally. It’s easy to see how the brain may get a little tired. We’ll explain how to keep your grey matter healthy…
1. Chill out
Brain fitness guru, Phil Dobson of Brainworkshops, warns of the damaging effect stress has on the brain. Stress can impact your ability to concentrate and make decisions. Phil recommends meditation to combat harmful effects.
Friendly (free!) apps such as Headspace make starting to meditate easy and accessible. Alternatively, find your local refreshment centers. Many are free, or donation-based, and provide a welcoming environment to learn how to monitor your thoughts and feelings.
2. Eat well
Your brain needs to be fed, just like your heart, lungs and any other organ in your body. When training for a marathon or preparing for a match, athletes make sure they eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your brain deserves the same attention. Drinking plenty of water can boost your reaction times and eating less sugar helps to avoid an energy crash.
Try to incorporate 20 minutes of aerobic exercise into your daily routine. Jogging, swimming or even a brisk walk has been shown to improve neurological function. Make sure you’re not stuck behind a desk all day. Get out into the fresh air on your lunch break, cycle to work – whatever gets your body moving.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
When we sleep, our brain sifts through the day’s memories, determining what can be what should be filed into long-term memory so healthy sleep is crucial for consolidating knowledge. Generally, you should be getting 7-8 hours a night. Have trouble sleeping? Check out our guide to coping with insomnia.
5. Play brain games
Instead of spending your free time endlessly refreshing your Facebook feed, do brain training games online. Psychologist David Roland started BrainHQ to retrain his brain after suffering a stroke. The Brain Test Britain initiative, part of the BBC’s Lab UK, offers fun brain exercises as part of a nation-wide study on brain training.
6. Learn something new
Challenge your brain to create new neural connections by getting to grips with a new skill or activity. This can be something as simple as writing your name with the “wrong” hand. Duolingo is a free app that helps you learn a new language on the go. Sneak in a few Spanish phrases on your daily commute or learn how to flirt in Italian while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.
7. Listen to music
Music activates multiple brain regions simultaneously: the attention, memory, verbal, emotion and meaning centers all fire away when we listen to a tune. Research has shown that there’s a perfect level of ambient noise for creativity.
8. Read fiction
The emotional engagement we activate when reading fiction is essential for building empathy. So close down Twitter and start reading a good old-fashioned novel!
9. Get up!
Jump out of bed quickly in the morning and avoid that tempting snooze button. Why? This will train your brain and body to effectively transition from sleep to wakeful state. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll soon see how you sleep better at night and are more productive during the day, thanks to the clear routine.
10. Meet people
When you meet someone, forge a new friendship or engage all your small talk skills at that party where you hardly know anyone, your brain is bending itself to listen to and understand other perspectives. These new, different, sometimes challenging interactions help enhance your cognition. And you may even make a few new friends along the way…
11. Do memory games
Want to improve your computer’s speed? Easy. Upgrade your RAM. Your brain can be upgraded too: by improving your memory. Memory games are fun and painless, with incredible results from remembering how to wire a plug to cut your studying time in half. There are plenty of memory games found online and helpful apps to download.
12. Switch it up
For most menial tasks, your brain switches into autopilot, lazily going through the motions. Keep it on its toes by switching up your daily routines: get dressed after breakfast, take a new route to work, turn family photos upside down. All these little tweaks will make you see, process and think differently.
13. Close your eyes
We tend to rely heavily on sight, often ignoring the other four senses. Try closing your eyes and experiencing simple tasks through a novel sense – within reason!
Have you got any brain training tricks? Let us know in a comment!