How to Boost Brain Power
Boosting Your Brainpower in the Moment
Brainstorm. Brainstorming can give your brain the boost it needs to get to work. It’s a great warm-up exercise before you jump right into the main event, like writing an essay or studying for an exam. A lot of times it can help boost your creativity.
- If you’re writing an essay, brainstorm what you want to cover in that essay before you get to the nitty-gritty of topic sentences and thesis statements. You don’t even have to use anything you come up with in your essay. The act of brainstorming will simply help jump-start your brain.
Deep breathe. Deep breathing helps to increase your blood flow and oxygen levels, which in turn help your brain to function better. Doing 10-15 minutes of deep breathing each day can help in the long run, but especially doing some deep breathing before and during your studying (and even while you’re taking your exam) not only helps keep oxygen and blood flow helping your brain, but it also keeps your anxiety levels down, also helping your brain function better.
- When you’re breathing make sure that you breathe into the bottom of your lungs. Think of it like a balloon expanding, first your belly, then your chest, then your neck. When you let the breath go, it will go in the opposite direction, neck, chest, then belly.
Drink green tea. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that drinking 5 or more cups of green tea each day can lower the possibility of psychological distress by as much as 20%. It can also give you a good boost, like caffeine, to help keep your brain going all day.
Take a break. A good way to help your brain charged up is to take a break. This can either mean cruising the Internet for 15 minutes, or switching to something else for a while, as a change of pace for your brain.
- It’s also a good idea to spend no more than an hour on something before switching to something else for a while. If you haven’t finished that something in an hour, set aside time later to work on it some more.
Laugh. People always say that laughter is the best medicine, but it also stimulates different areas of the brain, allowing people to think in a broader and freer manner. Laughter is also a natural stress reducer and stress is something that inhibits and limits brainpower.
- Remind yourself to laugh, especially if it is just before that big test or writing that final essay. Put a funny background on your computer, or keep a funny joke nearby as you study. Refer back to it occasionally, to stimulate a laugh.
Boosting Your Brainpower Long-Term
Eat brain-boosting food. There are lots of different foods that can help boost your brainpower. Conversely, some foods — foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, “junk food” and soda — dull brain processes and make you foggy and sluggish.
- Try foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts and salmon (although eat this sparingly because of the possibility of a higher mercury content), ground flaxseed, winter squash, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans. Omega-3 fatty acids improve blood circulation, and boost the function of neurotransmitters, which help your brain process and think.
- Foods high in magnesium are important (such as chickpeas or garbanzo beans) because they help with message transmission in your brain.
- Scientists have linked a diet higher in blueberries with quicker learning, better thinking and better memory retention.
- Choline, which occurs in vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, has the potential to help with the growth of new brain cells, as well as boosting intelligence longer in older adults.
- Complex carbohydrates give your brain and body energy over a longer period of time. Try eating food like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, lentils, and whole
Get enough sleep. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, everything that your brain does is worsened because of it. So creativity, thinking, cognitive functioning, problem solving, memory, all these are tied to getting enough sleep. Sleep is especially necessary for memory functions, so make sure you’re getting to the deeper stages of sleep to allow for memory processing.
- Turn off any electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed. That means cell phones, computer, iPod, etc. Otherwise your brain will be over-stimulated as you’re trying to sleep and you’ll have greater difficulty in falling asleep and getting to the necessary stages of sleep.
- For adults it is best to get at least 8 hours of sleep.
Get enough exercise. Physical exercise can do things like enhance the oxygen flow to your brain, which will help it better process and function. It also releases chemicals that enhance your overall mood, as well as protect your brain cells. Scientists have found that exercising actually helps spark the production of more neurons in the brain.
- Dance and martial arts are especially good ways to boost your brainpower, because they stimulate a wide variety of brain systems, including organization, coordination, planning, and judgement. You’re having to move your body (and various parts of it, too) in synch with the music.
Learn to meditate. Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, can help to retrain the brain to work better and to not go down certain negative neuro-pathways. Meditation both reduces stress (which helps the brain function better), but it also increases memory, as well.
- Find a place to sit quietly, even if only for 15 minutes. Focus on your breathing. Say to yourself as you breathe “breathing in, breathing out.” Whenever you find your mind wandering, gently draw it back to focusing on your breath. As you get better at meditating, notice what is going on around you, feel the sun on your face, notice the sound of the birds and the cars outside, smell your roommate’s pasta lunch.
- You can also do mindfulness activities — when you’re having a shower, focus on the feel of the water, the smell of your shampoo, etc. This will help keep your mind attentive and help reinforce your mindfulness to the moment.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Getting enough liquid in your system is super important since your brain is about 80% water. It won’t function as well if you’re dehydrated. So make sure to keep drinking water all day, at least 8 6-ounce glasses.
- It’s also a good idea to drink fruit or vegetable juice. Polyphenols, which are the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, can help protect brain cells from damage and keep your brain at a high-functioning level.
Cut down on stress. Chronic stress can do things like destroy brain cells and damage the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that helps retrieve old memories and format new ones. Dealing effectively with stress is something that is incredibly important to learn, since it’s impossible to cut it out of your life entirely.
- Again meditation is key in helping to manage stress, even if you take only 5 or 10 minutes out of your day to do it, that will help your brain.
- Also, deep breathing can help, as it will cut down on your immediate stress and alleviate your anxiety.
Learn something new. Learning something new gives your brain a workout in the same way that you would do a physical workout to increase your strength and endurance. If you stick to the well-worn paths of the stuff you already know your brain isn’t going to keep developing and growing.
- Learning a language stimulates lots of different parts of your brain and helps make new neuro pathways. It takes mental effort and will help expand your knowledge base.
- You could take up cooking, or knitting, or learning an instrument, or juggling. As long as you’re enjoying yourself and learning new things your brain will be happier and function better!
- Enjoyment is an important part of learning and maintaining your brain’s health and boosting its power. If you like what you’re doing there is more likelihood that you’ll continue to be engaged and to learn.