10 Easy Ways to Feel Smarter

Want to boost your grey matter? Here are 10 simple ideas to help you stay mentally sharp

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Blueberries on the vine at Mamaku Blue in Rotorua. Picture / Supplied.

1. Exercise
Regular cardio not only protects your brain against stress, it encourages the production of stimulating hormones that protect memory and thinking skills. A University of British Columbia study found that regular aerobic exercise — the heart-pumping, sweaty variety — appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area involved in verbal memory and learning. So get active to literally grow your brain.

2. Do puzzles
Not only are they fun but regularly doing puzzles is a simple way to keep mentally active. Try a combination of crosswords, Sudoku, jigsaws, visual puzzles and memory exercises. Even better, invite a friend to a game of chess and challenge both your conversational and working memory skills.

3. Try Humanature’s new Make Me Feel Smarter supplements
These contain pine bark extract, which studies have shown helps to speed up brain processes and keep our cognition sharp as we age, leading to a more powerful and healthy brain. Over 15 years of clinical trials have found they help the brain and body to function the best it can.

4. Get enough sleep
We all know the effects of a sleep deficit on our attention spans and mood — and it’s no wonder. Getting 7-8 hours of kip a night allows your brain the time to clear out toxins, repair wear and tear, make order from chaos — processing and filing the day’s events — and create memories. So hit the pillow to stay sharp.

5. Eat smarter
A study published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia found that a Mediterranean-style diet may significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Nutrtionists also recommend we load up on brain-friendly superfoods. Blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, wholegrains, beans, tea and dark chocolate all have a powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory effect on the brain.

6. Meditate
We already know meditation has a wonderfully calming effect on the nervous system. But research suggests it also boosts brain size, and encourages both hemispheres to work in harmony. MRI scans show that the hippocampus is bigger in the brains of long-term meditators. Find yourself a quiet spot and aim to sit for 5 minutes, focusing on the breath. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. Gradually increase this to 20 minutes or more a day.

7. Keep learning
Experts believe that advanced education may help keep memory strong as it promotes the habit to stay mentally active. Continuing that education maintains individual brain cells and stimulates communication among them, according to the Harvard Medical School. Pursue a hobby or learn a new skill to keep that grey matter sharp.

8. Engage in music
A study from Boston Children’s Hospital found a correlation between musical training and improved executive function in both children and adults, improving high-level cognitive processes. But you don’t need to take up the violin to feel smarter — even listening to a piece of music will stimulate large parts of your brain.

9. Read the literary greats
Reading non-fiction may broaden your knowledge but if you want to increase your social and emotional skills, nothing beats reading a novel. Specifically, a literary work. A study published in Science in 2013 suggests reading literary fiction can lead to more finely-tuned social and emotional skills. So grab that Austen, Tolstoy or Kafka and let their genius rub off.

10. Maintain an active social life
Of course it depends on who you’re hanging out with — but spending time with others has been shown in countless studies as a key component to maintain cognitive sharpness. Scientists say that holding a conversation is a good exercise in emotional intelligence, and socialising can help us remember more and think more clearly.

To find out more go to www.humannature.co

 

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