How to improve brain function?
Long-COVID brain fog, mum brain or work burnout — there are quite a few reasons in today's world that can bring intelligence levels to a drop. If left in that state, the mind, just like a person, can become lethargic and unwilling to get back to its original sheen. For a growth-oriented individual, low smarts could also mean a slowdown in their career. Fortunately, there are a number of ways one can constantly challenge their mind and keep it alert and focused.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve the brain function. Even the lightest of exercises induces activity in the hippocampus and improves the connection between it and the other areas of the brain that look after memory. The best part: it need not be strenuous exercise at all. Simply walking, jogging or practicing yoga can help the brain soak up all the benefits of physical activity.
Sleep is another phenomenon that is heavily associated with a healthy brain. In fact, it is so vital that studies have shown that even mild sleep deprivation can adversely impact working memory. While each person differs in the number of hours of sleep they need, at least 6 hours of sound sleep has been proven to help with keeping the brain alert and sharp. Sleep gives the brain time to consolidate memories and make space to learn newer things the next day.
Another tried and tested method for improving the focusing abilities of the brain is meditation. Practicing individuals swear by this method and two studies, conducted almost a decade apart from each other, demonstrated similar results — meditation was associated with better executive functioning and working memory. The practice also improved the mood and anxiety levels of the participants and it can do the same for you.
While many say that learning a new skill can help improve brain function, we go a step further and tell you exactly which skill can help you the most. Learning a musical instrument can boost your intelligence by making you adept at auditory perception, physical coordination, memory, especially muscle memory, and pattern recognition. The skill also challenges a person's cognitive and sensory abilities, improving the neural function of the individual.
Reading is another fun and creative way to keep your mind polished and at its best. According to a review in 2015, the habit of reading positively impacts all parts of the brain, including the neural connections between them. This is because it requires a reader to pay attention, process the alphabets visually and understand texts, analyse situations and predict outcomes, and retain information, all at once.
An inquisitive brain is a sharp one. Keeping abreast of current events, having knowledge about new technology and other advances in the world, and wanting to learn or read up on new skills are all good ways to keep oneself informed and the brain charged. Being a student for life can actually protect your brain and increase its thinking and analysing abilities.
Finally, socialise. Just like the body, the brain too, needs a break from constant demands on its abilities to recall information, remain focused and take in information. Meeting new people, maintaining an active social life and having meaningful relationships with people releases happy, feel-good hormones in the body that can help the brain relax and give it energy. Volunteering activities and friend reunions are all great ways to bathe the brain in oxytocin and give it some much needed downtime.