5 ways to keep your brain sharp
Do you often feel sluggish and lethargic when you sit down to study? Is your concentration span not more than 5-10 minutes? Find your mind wandering off to faraway places while sitting in class? It is then time to sharpen your brain and try to keep it active! Here are 5 ways in which you can keep your brain sharp:
Solve a sudoku, exercise your brain cells!
1. Exercise your brain
Your brain is a muscle and it needs its share of workout in the gym too! The more you use it, the better it will work! So here are a few ways to keep it well-oiled and in top working condition:
a. Solve crosswords puzzles and Sudoku. Sudoku puzzles reinforce the brain's logical thought process, enhance problem solving abilities, improve concentration, boost mental sharpness and minimize diseases such as Alzheimer's according to Craig Atwood, research director for the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute.
b. Play video-games. It is a highly simulating activity and helps improve hand – eye coordination and visual – spatial abilities.
c. Learn a new language. Learning a new language can actually make parts of the brain grow, according to a research conducted at Lund University, Sweden. This research was published in the scientific journal NeuroImage.
d. Attempt daily routine activities in a different way. Eg: take a new route to school/ college (and try to reach on time!)
e. Read more and on diverse topics. This helps you learn something new every day which in turn sharpens your brain further.
f. Listen to music; learn to play a musical instrument. While a research conducted in Stanford has shown that listening to music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention; similar research by neuroscientist Professor Nina Kraus at Northwestern University in Everston, Illinois has proven that learning to play an instrument has major advantages for a growing brain.
Head out for a jog, activate your body and brain
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2. Exercise your body
Sweat it out, take a walk, jog around the park, play a game of football. And tell your parents that you’re not wasting time – but keeping your brain sharp and healthy. And you can then quote the following findings:
• A Columbia University Medical Centre trial proved that exercise stimulates the generation of twice as many neurons in the part of your brain that governs memory as a state of non-activity does.
• A 2006 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study also found those who walk for an hour three times a week have more brain volume and better right-left brain connections than those who don't.
Never compromise on your sleep
3. Get enough zzzzz
The next time you get caught sleeping in class, tell your teacher that you’re just trying to increase the cognitive abilities of your brain! On a more serious note, getting enough sleep (7-8 hours) is vital for your mental as well as physical health. Research time and again has shown that memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories. So that completely rules out staying up all night studying before an exam day – you’ll hardly retain any of that in your long-term memory!
Snack healthy while you study
4. Eat right
The human brain weights just about 1.3 – 1.4 kgs but it uses about 20 % of the daily calorie intake. Now that’s a lot! So make sure you eat right, eat healthy for an active and pumped up brain. Eat healthy and balanced meals and at regular intervals. Need we say that you should avoid junk food as much as possible? Remember “GIGO” (garbage in, garbage out). If you feed on junk, you’re brain will be no better than a junkyard!
Take a break, meet a friend
5. Get a (social) life!
Yes, being a social butterfly actually makes you smarter! Interacting with new people, taking dance lessons, travelling to new destinations engages your brain in novel and fresh ways that act as a powerful brain boost. Mixing and mingling stimulate parts of the brain that control your memory, explains Pittsburgh-based neuropsychologist Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D. Plus a lively discussion is always invigorating. So, go out and have a cup of coffee with your friend or take out your best dress and head out to that party already!
Do yoga or meditate to de-stress and focus better
6. De-stress & Meditate
Stress can play havoc with your mind and not let you function at all, if it hits an extreme. So before you start pulling out your hair, try devoting at least half an hour every day indulging in some relaxing activity like meditation and yoga. Yoga can be really effective stress buster. Spend some time in relaxed contemplation and find your worries slipping away. You’ll emerge lighter and with a relaxed mind!
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