10 Ways to (Re)Train Your Brain

10 Ways to (Re)Train Your Brain

Use these quick tips to give your brain a workout and reap the benefits of an active mind.

We all know that exercising helps us develop a strong, healthy body, but did you know you can actually do things to effectively “work out” your brain? Use these tips to wake up — and shake up — your brain!

Brain scientists have long understood how the brain works, but new information — thanks to developments in brain imaging technologies — regarding the brain’s ability to adapt to new things and the brain’s ability to rejuvenate itself and brain’s ability to delegate some functions to undamaged areas after an injury is teaching us more all the time.

Back to the fun part, though: How can we train our brains to be healthy?

1. Get Brain Smart
How are you spending your time and brainpower? Are you exercising it to get the results you require and desire? We can make conscious decisions about the information, skills and techniques we choose to train our brain in.

2. Relish a Challenge
Your brain would love to be lazy, so it’s up to you to keep it on its toes. The more you challenge your brain, the more refined its general functioning will be.

3. Keep Learning
You are limited only by what you give your brain to process! The more you ask it to do, the more space it sets up to handle new tasks…

4. Focus on Focusing
Anything that requires intense focus will help stimulate parts of the brain that start slowing down as we age. Crosswords, Sudoku, mental calculations, bridge, chess or any general activities that require a high level of focus are all good options.


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5. Lead a Multidimensional Life
Opt for activities that stimulate different areas of the brain at the same time. For example, spend your time and money on doing (rather than buying) things. The value of an object generally fades over time — whereas the value of an activity leads to different types of stimulation for your brain at once — and creates anticipation, which is also good for your brain.

6. Respect Your Stress Threshold
Although mild stress can be a motivator, chronic stress can cause an imbalance in the brain’s electrical and chemical balance. Chronic stress may also kill brain cells. Brain studies of stress and anxiety disorders suggest that brain volumes may be reduced and white matter damaged, affecting the effectiveness of communication between cells and their functioning.

7. Join the Pack
One of the most overlooked factors in a healthy brain is social interaction. Being sociable is associated with an up to 60 percent decrease in the likelihood of dementia. Social interaction promotes inflammation-fighting chemicals in the brain and helps prevent a build-up of stress hormones.

8. Get Physical
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to grow new brain cells. Research suggests that exercise increases the volume of gray matter and combats inflammation. Regular, challenging, cardiovascular exercise (like walking and cycling) also strengthens the arteries that supply the brain with oxygen.

9. Vitamin D3
New studies suggest that vitamin D3 could have a major impact in preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s. Although we get D3 from sunlight (when large areas of the body are exposed) and, to a lesser extent, fish, it seems that just about everyone is lacking it. A supplement of a minimum of 5000iu a day is recommended.

10. Get Some Rest
Quality sleep — and enough of it — is essential to improving your mental functioning. Inadequate sleep leads to reduced functioning of the prefrontal cortex, and as a result, the brain focuses on the essentials only. Although we may think we can skimp on sleep or adapt to less of it, doing so can mean we miss out on the crucial stages of the sleep cycle in which certain neurons regenerate and new information or skills learnt are stored.

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