Your brain plays a big part in every aspect of your life, yet people often ignore the fact that the brain can be trained just as you would train any other part of your body – your voice if you were a singer, for instance, or your legs if you planned to run a marathon. The tips below provide some insights into various techniques for improving your performance by training your brain.
Try New Things
Your brain loves to learn, and trying new things is a great way to get it to do so. This is not a knock on performing habitual activities, just a call to mix things up – seeking out new experiences provides your brain with extra stimulation, which can help it work better. Trying new things causes neurons to become habituated to firing on different pathways in your brain. Thus, learning new skills expands the scope of neuron firing activity, which increases your brain’s ability to cope with different scenarios and experiences.
The fresh stimuli created by engaging in new experiences can also serve the function of keeping your brain alert. Doing the same things over and over can become dull, which likely played a part in the invention of the vacation! The same principle applies to the brain – a steady supply of variety from novel experiences is just what the doctor ordered in terms of stoking brain activity and promoting mental acuity.
Prioritize Your Memories
The brain can only hold a certain number of things in memory. To make sure that those things are as important as possible, make a habit of only committing the most vital things to memory. To facilitate this, make a practice of writing down things that you don’t need to memorize, such as daily tasks and to-dos. Doing this enables you to focus on committing to memory only those things which are most likely to help you improve your overall functioning.
When it comes to your to-do list, try the following approach;
- Include the most important details relating to accomplishing the goals listed.
- These minor details, while important to performing the specified task, are often not important enough to take up space in your brain.
- If you force yourself to try to remember these types of details every time you perform a task, you may find that you have forgotten them when it comes time to do the task. Even if you do manage to remember them, by doing so you are taking up space in your brain with insignificant details that could better be used for more significant memories.
Perform Brain Training Exercises
A number of websites feature brain training regimens that can help you perform routines designed to improve brain function. These routines include exercises that help you improve your memorization abilities, or improve the speed of your thinking.
You can also perform your own training exercises, for instance by using mnemonic devices or similar other routines to help your brain perform. Things to try include:
- When driving always checking your blind spot
- When coming home always putting your keys in the same place so you don’t lose them
- When walking across the street always looking both ways
While these are simple examples, you can take the same approach with more complicated behaviors. For instance, when you feel yourself getting angry, train your brain to initiate certain cool down actions. Another example is using visualization to break complex activities down into discrete steps to make performing the overall task easier.
A key to mastering almost any skill is repetition. The more you do something, the better you are likely to become at doing it. When training your brain, use this to your advantage by seizing the opportunity to repeat a process until you feel you have a good handle on it. Continual practice over a significant period of time enables your brain to perform many tasks with little extra thought or effort – giving you time to focus on learning new skills as you continue to train your brain.
Stay in Shape
A number of studies have shown that exercise is crucial to brain performance. If your health suffers it is likely to have a deleterious effect on your brain function. You don’t need to be a triathlete to benefit from regular exercise. Exercising for just 20 or 30 minutes a day can make a significant impact on your overall health and improve brain performance.
A corollary of the need for exercise to stay healthy is the need for a good night’s sleep. To make your brain the best it can be it is important to prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. A well-rested mind is an alert mind – try to get a healthy amount of REM sleep to maximize your brain function.
Switch it Up (perform different tasks regularly)
Not only does your brain appreciate variety, it benefits from it. Rather than perform a single activity over and over again, try to mix it up by varying the activities you perform on a regular basis. This helps build different neural pathways in your brain, which helps improve overall brain function. Taking this approach also helps minimize the occurrence of the phenomenon of diminishing returns, which can apply when you lose focus as a result of doing something over and over. Keep your productivity at a high level by applying this strategy regularly.
When diminishing returns set in, your ability to produce a certain amount of output for a specific amount of time spent performing an activity suffers. By varying your activities, your brain is more likely to help you stay alert and focused, thus reducing the impact of diminishing returns.
Humans are social animals, it is said, and it is certainly true that having strong social relationships helps promote a person’s overall well-being. The feeling of contentment arising from positive social interaction can help your brain function better.
Brain function has been shown to suffer when subjected to excessive levels of stress. Socialization can alleviate stress, making it an important component both of living a balanced life and optimizing brain performance. Don’t isolate yourself from human contact in the name of training your brain – a mix of socialization and solo brain training practice is optimal.
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