I don’t know about you, but I think most people probably take their brains for granted. The stats say that we only use a mere 10% of our brains which is crazy considering our brain is like the computer that controls everything that we do. You’d think we’d have learned to at least upgrade the software every now and then!

But no. Seldom does it even occur to people to invest in their brains. Perhaps this is because for the past four hundred years medical science has believed that brain anatomy is fixed.  People believed that after childhood the brain changed only when it began the long process of decline and that when brain cells were destroyed they could not be replaced. Nor could the brain ever alter its structure or find a new way to function.

Unfortunately this out-dated theory meant that people born with mental illnesses or brain damage would be affected that way for life.

But luckily the situation isn’t anywhere near as dire as was originally thought – the recent theory of neuroplasticity, challenges all of this by stating that our brains actually have the ability to change themselves, their structures, neuropathways and even to grow new cells.

In-fact recent research has shown that there are plenty of things you can do to train your brain and they don’t have to cost you money. They may cost you time – but isn’t your brain worth it?

Simple Life Strategy: 10 tips to train your brain

Here’s 10 practical things you can do to train your brain:

  1. Exercise regularly – it’s been proven that exercise helps to increase brain function and enhances neurogenesis (creates new cells)
  2. Think positive – stress & anxiety have been proven to kill neurons & stop new neurons from being created. Research has shown that positive thinking, especially in the future tense, speeds up the creation of cells and dramatically reduces stress & anxiety. Start by noticing every time you are negative and consciously making an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  3. Try new things – our brains are stimulated by new experiences. Don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same old things – you can only create new neural pathways if you are learning something new. So take a new route to work, try a new recipe for dinner, or even a new form of exercise – mix it up!
  4. Eat healthily – our diets have a HUGE impact on brain function. Our brains utilise over 20% of all nutrients & oxygen that we consume – so remember to feed your brain with the good stuff! (i.e. fresh fruit and veg & plenty of OMEGA 3 oils found in oily fish)
  5. Get enough sleep – sleep is crucial for your brain to perform at it’s best. Get to bed between the hours of 9pm and midnight to benefit from the most effective hours of sleep! (this is when your body ‘detoxes’)
  6. Read a book – not only is it a great stress buster it also forces you to use your imagination as your brain automatically pictures everything you read
  7. Sack your satellite navigation system! Relying on sat nav to get you everywhere results in a lazy brain. Go back to the old school and use a map to navigate every now and then (this exercises the part of your brain responsible for understanding spatial relationships)
  8. Cut out the TV – most people devote too much time to watching TV. Create some extra time for yourself by cutting back the time you spend on the couch – your brain will thank you for it
  9. Don’t reach for the calculator – advanced technology has meant that a lot of us have become mentally lazy. We don’t bother to use our brains and instead rely on devices like smartphones or laptops. Discipline yourself to memorise phone numbers and other important numbers (passport, credit card, insurance, driving license).
  10. Question your assumptions – instead of taking everything at face value, get into the habit of questioning everyday things that you come into contact with. This could be anything from ideas, products, processes & systems at work, through to recipes, routes to work! Many innovators have struck gold by questioning their assumptions – because this forces your brain to innovate & create new ideas. Always look for better ways of doing things.

To learn more about how to increase your brain function contact me to find out about my tailored coaching programs.

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Image Source: Vacon Sartirani, Flikr, creative commons license

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