brain power

Breath deep

More air in means more oxygen in the blood and therefore in the brain. Breath through your nose and you’ll notice that you use your diaphragm more, drawing air deeper into your lungs. Several deep breaths can also help to relax you, which is conducive to clearer thinking.

Meditate

A simple meditation you can do right now is just closing your eyes and paying attention to your breath. Tensing up your muscles and then relaxing them to start may help. When your mind wanders, just bring your attention back to your breath. Five or ten minutes of this will usually relax you, clear your mind, and leave you more ready for any mental task.

Sit up straight

Posture affects your thinking process. Prove it to yourself by doing math in your head while slouching, looking at the floor and letting your mouth hang open. Then do the mental math while sitting up straight, keeping your mouth closed and looking forward or slightly upwards. You’ll notice that it’s easier to think with the latter posture.

Phosphotidyl Serine (PS)

This supplement has been shown in clinical studies to increase lucidity and rate of learning. It activates cell-to-cell communication, helps regulate cell growth, improves the functioning of the special receptors found on cells, and prepares cells for activity. In other words, it can help your brain power. It’s also thought to reverse memory decline. Phosphatidylserine has no known adverse side effects.

Vinpocetine

This extract, derived from an alkaloid found in the Periwinkle plant, is used as a cerebral vasodilator. It increases blood flow to the brain, which improves its oxygenation and thereby increases mental alertness and acuity. Research suggests it may also be the most powerful memory enhancer available to date.

Gingko Biloba

The leaves of this tree have been proven to increase blood flow to the brain. The trees are often planted in parks. My friends and I used to eat a few leaves when we wanted a brain boost. It is also inexpensive, if you buy the capsules or tea at any health food store.

Good thinking habits

Just use a problem solving technique for several weeks and it will become a habit. Redesign everything you see for a while, and that will become a habit. You can develop many good thinking habits with some effort, and then be more resourceful effortlessly from that point on. Use the power of habit.

Use dead time

This is time that is otherwise wasted or just under-utilized. Driving time, time spent in waiting rooms, or even time spent raking your yard can be included in this. With a tape player and a trip to a public library, you can start to use this time to listen to books-on-tape. You may spend 200 hours a year in your car. What could you learn in that time?

Learn a language

Learning a new language has been shown to halt the age-related decline in brain function. It also introduces your mind to new concepts and new ways of looking at things (in English we are afraid, whereas in Spanish we have fear). It is one of the best brain exercises.

Rosemary

This common herb may have an effect on the brain when the scent is inhaled. We are waiting for the research, but some people swear that just sniffing rosemary wakes up their brain. It seems safe, so if you have rosemary in your spice rack, give it a try.

Mindfulness exercises

Concentration and clear thinking are more or less automatic once you remove distractions. Learn to stop and watch your busy mind. As you notice things that are subtly bothering you, deal with them. This might mean making a phone call you need to make, or putting things on a list so you can forget them for now. With practice, this becomes easier, and your thinking becomes more powerful.

Write

Writing is good for your mind in a number of ways. It is a way to tell your memory what is important, so you’ll recall things more easily in the future. It is a way to clarify your thinking. It is a way to exercise your creativity and analytical ability. Diaries, idea-journals, poetry, note-taking and story-writing are all ways to use writing to boost your brain power.

Sleep better

As long as you get a certain amount of sleep – probably a minimum of five hours – the quality seems to be more important than the quantity. Also, short naps in the afternoon seem to work well to recharge the brain for some people.

Caffeine

The research shows higher test scores for students who drink coffee before major exams. My chess game gets better. In other studies, it has been shown that too much caffeine leads to poorer quality decisions. Caffeine affects individuals differently, and has some nasty long-term side effects for some of us, but short-term – it works!

Avoid sugar

Any simple carbohydrates can give you “brain fog.” Sometimes called the “sugar blues” as well, this sluggish feeling makes it hard to think clearly. It results from the insulin rushing into the bloodstream to counteract the sugar rush. Avoid pasta, sugars, white bread and potato chips before any important mental tasks.

Exercise

Long term exercise can boost brainpower, which isn’t surprising. Anything that affects physical health in a positive way probably helps the brain too. Recent research, though, shows that cognitive function is improved immediately after just ten minutes of aerobic exercise. If you need a brain recharge, you might want to walk up and down the stairs a few times.

Imaginary friends

Talking to and getting advice from characters in your mind can be a great way to access the information in your subconscious mind. Imagine a conversation with a person who has a lot of knowledge in the area you want advice in.

Develop your creativity

Creativity gives power to your thinking. Raw computation can be done by computers now, but humans provide the creative thought that shapes our world.

Learn more efficiently

When you decide to learn something, take notes from the start. Leave each “learning session” with a question or two in mind, to create anticipation and curiosity. Take short breaks, so there will be more beginnings and endings to your studies (Things learned at the beginning or ending of a class or session are remembered better).

Use techniques for clear thinking

Cluttered rooms and offices can contribute to cluttered thinking. Organize a space for mental work. Sigh, stretch, and take a deep breath before you start on a tough mental job. Plan some distraction-free time for brainstorming.

Creatine

This is a compound found in meat, used by athletes to help build muscle. Now the evidence is here to show that it helps your brain as well. Proceedings B , a journal published by the Royal Society reports that the research showed improvement in working memory and general intelligence resulting from creatine supplementation. The dose used in the study was 5 grams per day. This is about the level used to boost sports performance, and is as much as you’d normally get in four pounds of meat, according to lead researcher Dr. Caroline Rae.

Walk

Exercise has been shown to benefit the brain, and walking is one of the best exercises for many. It is low impact, and the rhythmic nature of it seems to put you in a state that is very conducive to clear thinking. In fact, carry a tape recorder with you to take notes, and a twenty minute walk can be a great way to solve problems.

Nuts

University students in Brazil and other South American countries often eat several Brazil nuts before an exam, believing they are good for their mental power. The evidence is starting to confirm this. Other nuts that have minerals and amino acids that are beneficial to the brain include almonds and walnuts.

Olive oil

High in mono-unsaturated fat, olive oil has been shown to improve memory. A cheaper alternative is canola oil, but this hasn’t been studied much yet.

Vitamin supplements

In studies, children scored higher on tests when on a regimen of daily vitamin supplements. “Experts” will tell you that if you eat a balanced diet, you don’t need supplements, which, given the culture here, is really just a sales pitch for vitamins, isn’t it? Who eats a perfectly balanced diet?

Self awareness

This may not seem important to brain power, but it is. When you know yourself better, you can avoid the usual effects of ego and emotion in your seemingly “rational” thinking. Or you can at least take it into account. Watch yourself, especially as you explain things or argue.

Fast

Overeating has the immediate effect of redirecting more blood to the digestive process, leaving less for the brain. Long term, it can cause arterial obstructions that reduce blood flow to the brain permanently. In at least one study, rats on a restricted-calorie diet had more brainpower.

Drink wine

In moderation, red wine can be good for the brain, it seems. It is rich in antioxidants, which protect brain cells. One glass per day for women and two for men is usually considered a safe and moderate amount.

Use alcohol in moderation

In a study at the University of Indiana School of Medicine, elderly light drinkers (fewer than 4 drinks per week) scored higher on tests of thinking abilities than non-drinkers. Those who drank 10 or more drinks per week scored lower. It is known that alcohol can kill brain cells, so moderation seems to be the key.

Vitamin E

Jean Carper, in researching her book, “Your Miracle Brain,” found that many brain researchers are taking 400 I.U.s of vitamin E daily. It is an antioxidant, and reduces the clogging of blood vessels, including those going in the brain.

Vitamin C

Taken in the form of orange juice in a study at the Texas Women’s University, vitamin C increased the IQ scores of children

Inositol

This is a safe and natural substance that is often grouped with the B-vitamins. It reduces stress and promotes clear thinking. It contributes to energy production, and so can “wake you up.” Animal studies show a measurable increase in physical activity for up to five hours after taking it.

Huperzine A

This is a compound extracted from the Chinese club moss. Researchers both in Israel and the U.S. have used it to treat alzheimer’s. It improves memory and learning an seems to be very safe.

As always thanks for reading and until next time.

P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.

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