Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 Ways to Use Your Brain Better

Because I'm hopefully going to college this fall, I've been reading about ways to increase brainpower. There was so much information, I was overwhelmed. I compiled a list of 5 things you can do to get the most out of that space between your ears.

Eat Your Omega-3's
No matter how much you exercise your brain, you are going to have trouble concentrating if you're not getting enough omega-3's. Omega 3's are a fatty acid that is vital for brain health as well as healthy skin and hair. An omega-3 deficiency can present itself as fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings, depression and poor circulation. You can get them in flax seeds/oil, walnuts, eggs and fish. It's recommended to take a supplement or take extra care in eating O-3 rich foods considering most people don't get enough by default.

Get Ambidextrous
Studies show that people who use both hands equally also use both sides of their brain more symmetrically, thus increasing concentration and memory. Along those same lines, swimming is an excellent activity for people struggling with dyslexia, as it forces both sides of the brain to work just as hard. You can start training yourself to use both hands equally by practicing writing with your non-dominant hand and using your less dominant hand for normal activities (As long as it's safe! Use your head.).

Read and Write
It goes without saying that reading increases intelligence. It increases vocabulary, spelling and concentration (not to mention the knowledge gained from the actual content of the book!). Also, people who read well tend to also excell at writing and communicating.

Get Active
Red blood cells are the vehicle that oxygen travels to the brain with. With each heart beat, 25% of that one heartbeat will go to your brain. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, asissting the brain in getting the proper amount of oxygen.
Also, physical activity increases endorphins- a feel-good hormone. This can be a powerful tool in combatting depression (In addition to other treatments, of course.).

Stress management is invaluable to the health of the brain. Stress is a primal "flight-or-fight" response, which triggers chemicals in the brain and body that, in a survivaly situation, could save your life. However, if these chemicals are always running around in your system, your body can suffer tremendously. Conditions associated with chronic, un-managed stress are; Heart Attack, high blood pressure, Stroke, Obesity, Insomnia, Ulcers, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, Infertility, hair loss and many, many more. It also can affect concentration, memory and mood.
Try giving yourself at least an hour a day to sit down and rest. Whether you like to read, journal, listen to music or watch a sports game- just give yourself some time. In contrast to that, moderate to light exercise is also a great tool in managing stress. Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and aerobics are all excellent brain-calming forms of exercise.
Last but not least, make sure that you are getting at least eight hours of sleep! Your brain will thank you.

Links to check out!
Lumosity- This is a great website with interactive IQ-building games
Stress Management Tips- As its title implies, this website is full of great stress management tips that anyone can use!

The Mayo Clinic
The University of Maryland Medical Center
Fit Brains
Discovery Health
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Increasing Your IQ (No, I'm not kidding!)

1 comment:

  1. Bethany,
    Im so happy that your thinking about going to college! I remember doing research on this and getting these points too. The only one I struggle with is the relaxing part. Im almost always studying or when Im "relaxing" Im thinking about what needs to be done. I do agree though that diet can add to to brain power and agree with the other tips also!