Our brains have evolved over the years to help us as a species. Whilst we’re not all equal when it comes to brain power there are quite a few things you can do to increase your brain power.
Collectively our concentration and attention spans have dropped in recent years. If you can get them to lift their face away from their phone, ask anyone you know.
Brain power and concentration are linked – often our most serious thinking comes when we’re concentrating hard enough to make our brain ache.
That doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat or anything like that (unless you want to of course) but it does mean changing from couch potato mode to something a bit more active.
Whilst there’s no scientific evidence about the 10,000 steps a day that’s often set as a target, it’s as good a figure as any to aim for. A pedometer on your phone will give a good enough indication about how many steps you’ve taken today, how fast you were and how far you’ve travelled. Installing it and checking it regularly (I keep my figures in a spreadsheet but I’m geeky like that) will help you to take more exercise almost without noticing. Remember you don’t have to go from an embarrassing low figure to 10,000 steps overnight – it can be a gradual build up.
Take the stairs rather than the elevator. OK, you might not do that in a gigantic tower block but you could always get off one floor early and take the steps for the last floor.
And if you want to do more exercise in less time, high intensity training gets some good results in a very short space of time. Which makes sense as when we were huntes, we’d have spent a lot of time waiting for our prey to show and then a hopefully short burst of intense exercise catching it.
Be careful what you eat
The more processed the food, the more tempting it is. And – almost invariably – the worse it is for us.
If you’ve got the time and inclination, cook for yourself from scratch. You can get lots of recipes that take less time to cook than it does for Dominoes to deliver. That gives you the added advantage that you know what’s in the food you’re eating and what (if any) additives have been sneaked in.
If you buy ready-prepared food then check the ingredient list.
A couple of good rules of thumb if you’re shopping in a hurry are to avoid products with more than 5 ingredients and to definitely avoid products where you need a microscope or a contrast enhancer to stand a chance of reading the ingredients list. If it was healthy, the manufacturer would boast about what they’d put in their product.
Our bodies are sensitive things and if your brain is spending too much time wondering how to process ingredients that would have been alien to us even a century ago, that won’t help with increasing your brain power.
And if you can steer clear of artificial anything as much as possible, you’ll find you almost automatically start to concentrate better.
So it’s win-win.
Incidentally, since I know you won’t be good 100% of the time, aim for being good most of the time. 9 meals out of every 10, something like that. So long as it doesn’t slip back the other way and you try to fool yourself that the monthly salad means you’re eating healthily.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is when our body not just rests but also repairs itself.
It’s also the time when our brain does a lot of processing – what’s happened today, what’s anticpated tomorrow, plus a bucket full of what-ifs. Some of those are processed in our dreams, whether or not we remember them.
But it does mean that you need a good night’s sleep more often than not.
Adjust your bedroom temperature or – if that’s not easy – the number and thickness of your duvets or sheets. Everyone has their own ideal room temperature to sleep – that’s one of the reasons why we often struggle to sleep on holiday the first night or two away from home.
Chill before you sleep. Our mind doesn’t have an on/off switch. It needs time to slow down. So checking your computer or playing Minecraft until milliseconds before you retire for the night isn’t a good plan.
Watch your caffeine intake. Personally, I don’t take anything with caffeine in it after lunch time. But if you’re one of those people who currently has their coffee on drip feed, cut back gradually unless you’re a fan of splitting headaches.
Alcohol doesn’t help your sleep either – again, if you’re drinking more than the recommended allowance (whatever that is for your particular location) it’s worth cutting down gradually rather than going cold turkey on it.
Think about taking vitamins and probiotics
Depending on your diet, a daily vitamin pill and some kind of probiotic are probably worth taking.
Vitamin pills are cheap – the ones I use here in the UK work out about 3p (about 4 cents) a day and make sure I’m topped up to 100% of the recommended daily allowance for near enough everything. Just be careful to read the label in case there’s anything you should be wary of, especially if you’re pregnant or are taking other medicines.
Probiotics are designed to help your gut flora which, in turn, help you digest food better and get the most benefit from it.
Amazon is as good a place as any to get these but it’s an area where manufacturers try to manipular the results. So watch out for all the less-than-genuine reviews by running the product through a site like this one before clicking the buy it now button.
Listen to relaxing music
Studies have linked Mozart’s music to increased brain power so if you’re a fan of classical music then it’s worth checking out some of Mozart’s work. And if you’re not sure, the usual YouTube search will give you plenty to listen to.
But if your taste isn’t for classical music, pick something else.
Music is powerful and picking some tracks that help you relax will give your brain space to increase its power as well as helping your concentration levels improve.
Challenge your mind
There are lots of ways to challenge your mind and keep it active.
One I like is FreeRice which challenges your vocabulary and also donates rice to the World Food Program.
Other people I know like to play online games – either against the computer or against other people.
Reading a book or learning a new skill will also keep your brain active and help challenge your mind.
And if you’d like to boost your brain power even more, click this link for my free report.