The concept of ‘strengthening your brain’ can seem abstract and hard to grasp. But, we forget that the brain is a muscle just like all the other muscles in our body. And just like them, the brain needs regular workouts to remain fit and healthy.
Why Strengthen The Brain?
Researchers and scientists are all abuzz with trying to find ways to prevent cognitive decline. This decline normally occurs when neural pathways in the brain remain unused and eventually deteriorate. This breakdown, combined with aging, can contribute to the development of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. In other words, when it comes to the brain, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Exercising the brain regularly helps in the formation of new neural pathways and connections between synapses. Regular use of these pathways helps prevents their decay. Here are some ways to keep your brain active.
1. Challenge Yourself
There are plenty of brain teasers and puzzles out
2. Exercise Regularly
Here is one instance where the mind-body balance comes into play. Your physical fitness and mental fitness are tied together. Daily physical exercise requires the use of motor skills and builds hand-eye coordination. Both of these tasks require your brain to be in control of your body’s actions.
3. Learn Something New
Finding a new hobby or skill can help form new synaptic connections
Your mind is constantly working, thinking of to-do lists, logistics, and handling stress and anxiety. Set apart time each day to clear your mind. You can practice simple meditation or try yoga poses and breathing exercises. If you find yourself unable to concentrate on a task, meditating for some time can help you come back to it with more focus.
5. Get Enough Sleep
By this, we mean good quality sleep! Each cycle of sleep contributes in some way to learning and memory building. When you
6. Eat More Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids appear to be important for memory and general brain performance.2 It may have a protective effect on brain function which means that it can help prevent some level of cognitive decline.3 Foods that are rich in omega-3 include:4
- fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- flax seeds
- green, leafy vegetables
- pumpkin seeds
7. Be Social
Studies have shown that the more social you are, the slower the rate of your memory decline. Although the mechanics are not clear, researchers have found that being more socially active can mean great news for your memory.5
8. Avoid Excess Alcohol
One glass of red wine a day is known to be beneficial, but any more than that may not be the wisest decision to make. Prolonged, excessive drinking has been linked to serious and persistent brain damage. Most alcoholics suffer a deficiency of thiamine which is an essential nutrient for
9. Join A Reading Group
Yes, reading on its own also stimulates the mind, but a reading group keeps you accountable. In the age of smartphones and tablets, you might find it difficult to pick up a novel and stick with it. With an organized reading group, you’re more likely to broaden your usual reading list and be more social. Questions are an important aspect of reading groups. This means that your analytical and memory skills are more thoroughly exercised compared to a scenario where you pick up a book on your own, finish it(if you ever even do), and move on.
When it comes to the human body, you could argue that the brain is one of your most precious assets. Prevent it from decay and deterioration with regular activity.
|↑1||Sleep, Learning, and Memory. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑2||Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center|
|↑3||Robinson, Jennifer G., Nkechinyere Ijioma, and William Harris. “Omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive function in women.” Women’s Health 6, no. 1 (2010): 119-134.|
|↑5||Active social life may delay memory loss among U.S. elderly population. Harvard School Of Public Health|
|↑6||Alcohol’s Damaging Effects On The Brain. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism|