Sharper brain power requires improving on our grey matter and that requires more than just Sudoku.
Our brains are a staggering feat of engineering. From week three of gestation to old age, our grey matter is constantly changing. Its size increases fourfold before we hit school age and by age six, it has reached 90% of adult volume. On the downside, our brain reaches peak performance between 16 – 25, after which in kicks cognitive decline. We may find it tricky learning new skills and struggling to recall names.
Before you panic, you’ll be relieved to hear that you can make proactive lifestyle changes, which will guarantee a sharper brain in 28 days. Yes, really! It could also reduce the risk of developing dementia and other cognitive impairments by 33%.
All it takes is three simple steps: decluttering, de-stressing and re-training. The brain, like any muscle, needs to be looked after and exercised in order to stay fit, strong and functioning effectively, believes our neuroradiologist.
Our brains can store as much information as the entire internet, mind-blowing indeed. While being informed is never bad, overstimulation can hamper or decrease the brain’s ability to problem-solve and neurons can be destroyed. When we have a clearer mind, we’re able to make better decisions, says our clinical hypnotherapist. Decluttering, makes the mind sharper, clearing the old to make space for the new.
- DO A DIGITAL DETOX – Endless calls and notifications are addictive, says our life coach. Take time away from your phone — read, go for a walk or meet a friend and avoid taking it into the bedroom. Download an app which encourages mindful screen time.
- SAY TA-TA TO TO-DO’S – Endless checklists might make us feel more organised, but they’re actually draining our brains. Hypnotherapists suggest employing the 3D concept of — Do it, Dump it or Delegate it.
- Do it – Devote time to completing a task entirely. Be realistic and conservative about how long a task takes and focus individually on each task.
- Dump it – This refers to time and tasks. Say “no” more often, it stops you becoming overloaded. Don’t do something out of obligation or guilt and ensure you leave “white space” in your diary (at least a couple of days free) that are just for you.
- Delegate it – Don’t have time, energy or inclination for a task? Ask for help. Do a “skills swap” whatever you dislike doing, someone else might love.
- GET MOVING – Exercising boosts blood flow and releases happy hormones dopamine and serotonin, say neuroradiologists. These hormones help clear the mind and gives strength to brain nerve cells. Dancing, in particular, requires mental skills and multitasking which improves cognitive function and slows down ageing.
2. DE-STRESS AND SWITCH OFF
Having too many commitments and making other people’s needs our responsibility can feel overwhelming. Increased stress levels block memory processes, thus we often forget what we’ve learnt. Most crucially, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that, we age our brain by 18 months every time we place it under duress.
- BEDITATE – Want to tap into your creative side? Jumping out of bed stressed won’t help. When you’re in a stressed beta-brainwave mode, you’re very focused on a particular goal or problem, great for when you know what you’re doing, but not so good for creative thinking or problem-solving, explains the beditation creator, Laurence Shorter. “Beditating”, requires just five minutes longer in bed, before you get up, which in turn, slows down and relaxes your brainwaves, so you move from stress-driven beta-wave mode, into a relaxed alpha-wave mode.
- Lay in bed doing nothing. Don’t jump out of bed in a hurried frenzy. Acknowledge what the voice in your head is saying, but don’t react to it. Be mindful of your body relaxing on the bed in a comfortable position.
- This should start to relax you. Don’t force it, it will happen naturally that you will feel calm.
- Once you feel relaxed, ask yourself about your priorities for the day. Don’t worry if the answer takes awhile coming. Hopefully, by unwinding, you’ll give your brain space to think and conjure up creative solutions to make you feel composed and prepared for the day.
- SWAP BUSY FOR BREATHE – Using words like “stressed”, “busy” or “hectic” can make you feel anxious. Every time you feel “busy” or “rushed”, swap it for “breathe” then take a deep breath in and out.
- FEEL THE PRESSURE POINTS – Sleep is key for brain functioning, for neurons to communicate and for reducing toxic build-up. A chocablock brain can stop you switching-off or dropping-off. Try this snooze-inducing trick. Rub the spot behind your ear where your neck muscles connect with your jawline. It’s one of the most relaxing points in the body, according to Gillian Berry, a member of the American Acupuncture Council. Activating pressure points boosts your natural relaxation response.
3. Brain Training for a sharper brain
- Make a fist – Want to memorise something? Ball up your right hand and squeeze. To recall the information later, clench the left hand. Researchers think the movements activate brain regions key for recalling of memories.
- Jog on biweekly – A Cambridge University study revealed that new brain cells do grow with the jogging activity and are linked to the recollection of memories.
- Switch sides – Brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand stimulates interaction between the two sides of the brain, forcing the growth of new neural pathways.
- Watch the booze – A study in the British Medical Journal showed even moderate drinking (7-14 units a week) is linked to pathological changes in the brain. As per the advice of the Chief Medical Officer in England, there is no safe drinking level and limiting alcohol to less than seven units a week, lowers the risk of health problems.
- Learn a second language – This specific type of brain training, enables us to alternate between two languages and delays the onset of dementia by minimally half a decade. In a study by the University of Edinburgh, the over-56s performed better than the 18-30s in cognitive tests after attending language lessons for four weeks.
Be a bookworm. Reading keeps your brain young, every page we read, improves the working of our brain to store and retain greater amounts of information. Emory University researchers, discovered greater connectivity in the left temporal cortex (region for memory storage) after participants read a book for over nine days.
E378 – Sharper Brain DIY – diabetic.today