6 Brain booster tips
Author: Hayley Alexander
Gee, what shall we do today brain?
Neurobics – that’s what. Now get ready to stretch those neurons.
Our minds are hard-wired to be lazy. By default, we look for the easiest ways to do things to conserve energy and are “innately attracted to sedentary behaviour,” according to researchers at the University of British Columbia.
Their study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, suggests that in order to conserve energy as a survival mechanism, our brains build routines that allow us to perform daily activities with the least amount of cognitive and physical effort required. The problem is that doing so provides the brain with little stimulation, which may become a problem as we age.
According to the World Health Organization, dementia and other brain degenerative diseases will affect one out of every five people at some point in life. Whilst there are various factors that may contribute to the onset of mental deterioration, the best thing that you can do to build resilience against the effects of ageing is to keep challenging your brain by breaking from routines.
How are we supposed to do that?
By practising brain-building exercises like these:
Wear your watch upside down – a tip from an article written for Interesting Engineering, “this forces your brain to really think every time you glance at it.” They also suggest switching hands, i.e. “using your non-dominant hand to do things like brushing your teeth.”
Have fun with puzzles and games. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience showed that doing jigsaw puzzles taps into multiple cognitive abilities and is a protective factor against ageing. Similarly, you can do crosswords or play Sudoku, try your hand at a game of cards, or play Scrabble.
Dance or learn a new sport. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that exercise helps to improve areas of the brain that control memory, planning and organisational skills. Mind-body activities such as yoga, martial arts and dancing have multiple physical benefits and are effective ways to train your memory and coordination skills.
Close your eyes. Another suggestion from Interesting Engineering, is to try keeping your eyes closed from time to time when you need not look to do simple tasks, such as folding laundry, showering or tying your shoes. Working blindfolded will “force your brain to use new neural pathways,” whilst engaging in different sensory experiences.
Build your vocabulary. Evidence from neuroimaging studies shows that having a broad- vocabulary is associated with better long-term and working memory. If you come across an unfamiliar word when you read, make a point to look up the definition and try using the word five times the next day.
Make time to meditate. You knew this one was coming. Healthline experts say that “daily meditation can calm your body, slow your breathing, and reduce stress and anxiety,” thereby optimising your brain’s processing speed. Try to find five minutes a day where you can simply sit in a quiet spot and focus your attention inwards.
So, go on and flex your brain muscles – it’s the smart thing to do!