10 Steps to a Better Brain

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until the latter part of the twentieth century, most medical practitioners thought that your brain was fixed. What you got is what you had and you will slowly lose what you have as you grow older.

The good news is that they were wrong. The even better news is this small booklet can show you what to do to keep you at your mental best.

The old adage, “Use it or lose it” is true concerning the brain.

If you take good care of your brain it will stay young. If you don’t exercise your brain, your brain will slowly weaken.

Cognitive decline is not inevitable. All you have to do is physical exercise and mental exercise.

Our brains adjust their structures to reflect life experiences. This adjustment (that scientists call “plasticity“) enables us to learn—and to change our brains by learning.

“You can teach old dogs new tricks and the more new tricks the better for the brain.”

Geoffrey Lefavi, Mind/Brain Researcher

“Your brain is capable of changing, for the worse or for the better, at any age.”
Dr. Michael Merzenich, Neuroplastician

Step 1.

Major Changes in the Way You Think

Being set in your ways is bad, experiencing new things is good. Doing the same things every day does not challenge your brain. Doing something new keeps your brain sharp.

How to challenge your Brain?

Sign up for an adult education course(s). Learn a foreign language, learn to play a musical instrument, or to sky or scuba dive.

Hike through the woods. Learn to identify all of the flora and fauna or all the species of birds, squirrels, monkeys, lions and tigers and bears – oh my.

Travel to exotic places – where you do not know the language or customs. All the new stimuli will stimulate your brain and you will learn something about the world.

Learn to play chess. Play often and learn how tactics affect the play of the game. If you already play chess, find a different competition game to play.

You can use art to keep your mind sharp. Art therapy has been used for some time, where patients with mental injuries have been taught to paint. This helps stimulate different parts of the brain, thus helping them (the patents) to use more of their brain.

You do not have to learn how to paint or sculpt. Thought doing so could help you keep sharp. If not interested in creating art; learn to appreciate art.

If there is an art museum in your area, visit it. Take a guided tour, the information the tour guide has can give you the ability to appreciate art in a different manner, therefore using your brain in a new way.

All of these suggestions are not valid if you already do them. If you are already a chess master, playing chess does not give you the same benefits. It has to be new to you.

These are just examples of a few of the New Things that you can bring into your life to keep your mind sharp. Get out there and try something new!

Step 2.

Math is your Friend

If you use a calculator to balance your checkbook, stop. Try balancing your checkbook first by hand, and then check your work with a calculator. Hopefully, in a few weeks you can forget the calculator all together.

Make it a goal to stop using a calculator all together.

When buying something try calculating the sales tax in your head. If your total sales amount is correct, give yourself a treat. If not donate to charity. (Feeling good about yourself is important also)

If you use a calculator to figure a tip, shame on you. You have to decide between giving 15% or 20%, and then do the math in your head. Why not for both percentages? The more you do it the easier it becomes (and the smarter you will be).

If you never learned Algebra in school or did poorly in the class, learn Algebra. Find a book on it or take a class. This will greatly effect how you think while improving your mind’s capabilities.

Calculus is the branch of mathematics that is concerned with limits and with the differentiation and integration of functions. Basically, Calculus is the study of change and infinity. This is not an easy subject to learn, but that is the point, not to do only things that are easy, but expand your mind.

Using your mind to do math in your daily life will greatly improve your brain. It does not have to be Calculus; it can be just adding two number together in your head.

Start adding!

Step 3.

Sleep

You MUST get a good night’s sleep. Your brain needs it. For women this is usually six to seven hour per night, for men it is seven to eight hours.

One of the major functions of sleep is to give the brain a chance to put everything in order. The brain needs time to put the new things you learned in the proper compartments, so it can later find the information when needed.

That’s why when one has a poor night’s sleep, it is common to have problems remembering details from the previous day.

Research on college students found that learning retention increased by at least 100% for those that had a good night’s sleep versus those that had a poor night’s sleep.

So, get a good night’s sleep so you can remember all the good times you had with your brain!

Step 4.

Memorize

Make a point of memorizing items in your life that previously might have slipped by you.

Start making the effort to remember people’s names; it’s good for your brain, and it is only polite. When someone tells you their name, repeat the name while looking directly at them. If it is a name that is unusual or can have alternate spellings, ask them to spell their name. Ask them what their name means. When walking away from them be sure to say goodbye and their name.

Memorize your credit card, including the expiration date and the security code on the back. If you have more than one card, start with one, and then keep going until you know them all. You’ll be surprised at how useful this can be. (When placing an order by phone, why search through your wallet, when you know it by heart?)

Memorize the streets around your home and office. This is extremely useful if there is a traffic jam in the area.

Memorize the numbers from your driver’s license, license plate, passport, and bank account. This can be extremely useful if you lose any of these items.

Look Around You. You will be surprised how memorizing things can make your life easier and your brain quicker.

Step 5.

Do the Opposite

Get your brain out of that rut, by “doing the opposite.” These things can be very entertaining, especially if your friends are watching when you try some of these ideas for the first time.

If you are right-handed, use your left hand to brush your teeth, comb your hair, or shave (careful, this can be dangerous).

Turn the photos on your desk or shelf upside down.

Read a magazine or newspaper article upside down.

When using an elevator, close your eyes and use the Braille numbers.

Or just drive a different way to work, eat in a different restaurant or rent a different car for a week.

Walk backwards, but watch out for cars. You may want to do this around an athletic track. Walking backwards also improves the support for your knees.

Step 6.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Discover the world anew. Smell that rose. How many colors are there in a sunset?

Deliberately refocus as a listener and as an observer. Really be conscious and present in the conversation that you are evolved. This will keep you from absentmindedly asking the same questions over again, and it will improve your relationships.

After taking a walk, sit down and write about what you saw.

We all tend to go through life not fully conscious of our surroundings. There is more to your neighborhood then your front door. Discover it and improve your mind.

Talk to your neighbor. What work do they do? How many children do they have? What other parts of the country have they seen or lived in?

Try participating in a new sport that you have not done before, or at least watch a new sport.

Step 7.

Reduce stress in your life

Stress has a very negative impact on the brain. A brain under stress produces Cortisol, excesses of which can decrease brain fitness as well as general health.

Reduce the stress in your life. From the book: “Stop Stress: Mind/Body Meets Technology”:

Call friends. Talking to your friends about your problems helps you relieve anxiety.

Reduce stress at work.

Not surprisingly, work tends to be a major source of stress for most people. You can reduce stress at work by establishing a network of friends, seeking out a sympathetic manager or scheduling pleasant daily activities and physical exercise during free time.

Manage your Finances.

Live below your means. Spend less than you make. Don’t buy those thing you think will make you happy, but you can not afford. If you have to put the purchase on your credit card do Not buy it.

Do Charity Work.

Helping other people can give you an inner feeling of peace (the opposite of stress). It can also expand your social network.

Get a Dog or Cat.

Studies have found that just petting a dog or cat lowers your blood pressure. Caring for a pet can be an excellent means of reducing stress in your life.

Complete Tasks you Dislike First.

Try to tackle your most difficult or stressful tasks early in the day. We are most resilient to stress after a good night’s sleep. Hitting these tasks early puts the source of our stress behind us. Stress builds up if a task is put off. Learn how to break big projects up into manageable bits and get started!

Keep a Notepad and Pen by Your Bed.

If you tend to become preoccupied with worrisome things just as you’re nodding off, keep a pad and pencil on your nightstand. Write down everything you’re concerned about, resolve to think about it all tomorrow. This will help you sleep without worrying if you will remember to do something about it tomorrow.

Step 8.

Food

Fatty foods are believed to hinder your mental capabilities. So cut out the fat and eat an apple. It is believed that there is something in apples that will make you smarter. Also, apples are high in fiber, and a high fiber diet can help you maintain your cholesterol level.

Water prevents dehydration. In extreme cases, dehydration can cause brain damage. Keep your brain wet; drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Drink Tea. Studies have shown that tea lowers the risk of heart attack, reduces “bad” cholesterol, fights cancer, reduces inflammation in arthritis patients, and reduces stress. Tea contains the amino acid L-Theanine, which has been shown to promote relaxation.

DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, found mostly in fish, is the main component of brain synapses. A lack of omega-3 has been shown to diminish intellectual performance and is linked with dementia. If you take Omega-3 as a supplement, try to take 1000mg a day. Talk to your physician first.

Eat More Eggs. Eggs are rich in choline, a fat-like B vitamin, which has been shown to enhance memory and minimize fatigue.

Step 9.

Physical Steps

Aerobic activity enhances memory skills, and moderately strenuous physical activity is strongly associated with successful brain aging.

A good way to see if an exercise is good for your mind is to ask if it is good for your heart. If it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your mind.

The American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Association have banned together to try to educate people about the direct relationship the mind has with the heart.

Studies have shown that people who regularly exercise are less likely to develop heart disease and dementia.

A consistent routine of aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heat and brain. It can also improve your sleep, increase your energy, and ward off depression.

Try learning to dance. It is a great exercise for your body and your mind.

Physical exercise boosts the brain’s rate of neurogenesis (creation of new neurons) throughout life, while mental exercise increases the rate at which those new brain cells survive and make functional connections into existing neural networks. Both physical exercise and the challenge from mental exercise increase the secretion of nerve growth factor, which helps neurons grow and stay healthy.

“Move it or lose it” and “use it or lose it” – the mind/body working together.

Start out any new exercise routine slowly. And most importantly, consult your physician before starting an exercise routine.

Step 10.

Use Wise123

Use all ten step including Wise123 to a better brain and a better life.

A report by the Gerontological Society of America, showed that using computer programs such as Wise123 can greatly affect the brains abilities as we grow older.

The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) nationwide clinical researchers found that improvements in cognitive ability roughly counteract the degree of long-term cognitive decline typical among older people without dementia. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2002, showed that significant percentages of the 2,802 participants (age 65 and older) who trained for five weeks for about 2 1/2 hours per week improved their memory, reasoning and information-processing speed.

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