1. Do Exercise Daily
We all know that we should do exercise on a regular basis. Maintaining an exercise routine and a healthy diet is important for not just your physical health but for your mental health as well.
However, most entrepreneur lead busy, rushed lives, and can’t always find the time to fit physical activity in.
Any form of exercise increases your heart rate, which gets blood flowing to your brain, thus keeping your memory sharp.
For at least 30-45 minutes a day, run, swim, dance or cycle as it benefits your brain health, cognition and even helps enlarge the hippocampus i.e. the catalyst for long-term memory in the brain.
If that isn’t reason enough to get you off the couch, who knows what is? Just take a 10-15 minute walk around the block or do a few jumping jacks to reboot your brain in case you don’t have time to squeeze in a full workout.
Cardio activity releases a potent mix of hormones important to improving mood, relieving stress, and boosting concentration.
Though there isn’t an absolute consensus, many experts recommend moderate cardio exercise (exercise which increase heart rate) activity 2-3 times a week in order to get the full mental benefit of exercise.
Research has shown that daily meditation can improve your brain as well as your well-being. This speaks to the importance of self-care.
Taking a mere 10 to 15 minutes out of your day to practice meditation could extend your cognitive longevity and allow you to reduce your overall stress levels too.
According to a study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, researchers measured the brains of 16 people who had never meditated before and then measured their brains again after the group had completed an eight-week meditation program.
During that period, the group spent an average of 27 minutes a day practicing mindful meditation.
Tests done on the group after the program found that there was an increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory, and even in other brain structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
There was also a reduction in size of the amygdala, the part of the brain which controls anxiety and stress.
So not only does meditation reduce your stress levels, it can also improve your brain power and memory. Mindful meditation delays cognitive decline and prevents neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Meditation is believed to particularly improve decision-making and information-processing abilities. Meditative practices like yoga and tai chi have also been found to improve mood and mental function.
3. Get Enough Sleep
You’ve certainly been advised about it often enough, but sleep is important. And it turns out it’s notably important to good brain function.
Get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Not only will it help you to concentrate and keep you alert, it will also help prevent loss of gray matter in your brain over time.
“Poor sleep takes a toll on everything, especially your memory. Sleep helps your brain consolidate and organise information”, says Dr. Adarsh Kumar, Internal Medicine, National Heart Institute.
Got an exam in the morning? Don’t stay up cramming until the sun comes up (like I used to), and hit the sheets. Sleep is a key time for the brain to solidify connections between neurons, thus helping us remember and learn better.
How much or how little sleep you need is an individual matter; go by what your body and mind tell you. Strive for quality sleep to actually recharge and rejuvenate the mind, improving both short-term and long-term mental prowess.
In short, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have less brain in your head.
4. Eat Well
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that nutrition plays a significant part in your brain health. Entrepreneurs are often rushing from one meeting to another, leaving themselves with very little or no time to eat well.
You have to focus on getting the right kind of nutrition. Antioxidants and amino acids are particularly important, and vitamin E can also be beneficial.
There are a number of foods that researchers believe can lend themselves to improved brain function. Of course, eating walnuts won’t make you a genius, but it may help your brain do what it needs to, and maybe do it a bit better.
Food high in omega-3 fatty acids, like walnuts and fish, are important to brain development and may help regulate mood and concentration.
Eating foods rich in magnesium is also believed to improve brain function, and, because many people are magnesium deficient, increasing your intake might also be a good idea in general.
Antioxidant-rich foods are believed to help protect the brain from degeneration and are primarily found in fruits and vegetables.
The darker the fruit or vegetable, the higher it usually is in antioxidants. For example, blueberries, blackberries, plums, red beans, and black beans are all high in antioxidants.
Food rich in whole grains helps to regulate your body’s glucose levels, and because glucose is what your brain uses for fuel, keeping your levels steady is important to your mood and ability to concentrate.
Good sources of whole grains include foods like steel-cut oatmeal, brown rice, and oat bran.
Reading engages your brain as well as your imagination and is an excellent way to learn new things and to learn to see people, places, things, and ideas in new and different ways.
Seek out reading that’s at least moderately challenging in terms of its vocabulary, content, or ideas.
Look for readings that can not only grant you access to new knowledge, but allow you to explore new and different ideas, perspectives, and beliefs as well.
6. Mind Games
Your brain is a muscle. You need to exercise regularly to keep it healthy. Norman Doidge, psychiatrist and author of The Brain’s Way of Healing, suggests playing scrabble and sudoku to sharpen your mind.
According to Cynthia Green, Ph.D., Author of Brainpower Game Plan, you must time yourself while working a crossword or Sudoku to boost processing speed, attention and positive intellectual engagement.
People who are cognitively active have better memory as they age. So quiz yourself, flex your brain and improve your memory power.
Do brain games and puzzles. There are all kinds of games available designed to keep your brain limber and fit. Look around, experiment, and find what works for you.
The old standbys of crossword puzzles and logic games have been around for some time, and they persist today because they work–they’re excellent ways to challenge and expand your thinking skills.
Newer alternatives for challenging your brain are available online and as smartphone apps.
Many sites offer games designed to keep your mind active and engaged, so rather than spend your downtime browsing cat pictures, consider trying a virtual brain game.
7. Do Something New
When you challenge your brain and experience something ‘new’, it stimulates your brain. So don’t fall into a rut following your same old routine.
Take a different route to work, read a section of the newspaper you usually skip, try a different recipe for dinner, learn a new language, and do things out of the ordinary.
Restructuring your brain helps create new neural pathways which increases your brainpower.
8. Learn New Skills
Learning new skills, keep your brain engaged and challenged, which can build new neural connections and improve your cognitive function.
Learning a new language is an excellent way to expand your mind. It will force your brain to work in ways it isn’t accustomed to and can help you see the world around you from a new linguistic perspective.
Trying new activities or hobbies can also help keep your brain tuned up. Look for opportunities to learn how to do new things, like taking ballroom dance, a martial art, a sewing class, or a writing workshop.
9. Cultivate Curiosity
Don’t accept things as they are. Instead, learn to constantly question things–even things that seem obvious or basic.
Deliberately seek out things that are new and different.
While it may be tempting to avoid rather than pursue things that are strange or different–new foods or dining styles, new religious ceremonies, new neighborhoods, etc.–your brain builds new and more diverse connections each time it encounters something unfamiliar or difficult to understand.
Embrace challenges to your ideas, beliefs, and experiences.