When was the last time you thought about what your brain was doing? Take a second and try to imagine all the functions, processes, thoughts, and tiny synapses going on in your brain all the time. It’s no secret that many of us take our brains for granted. We sometimes forget that our brain is an incredibly complex organ designed to manage a multitude of tasks at the same time. It contains our conscious and unconscious minds, it allows us the ability to think and feel, and it tells us when we smell, taste, see, hear, and feel the world around us. It takes care of millions of duties day to day all while continuing to keep our bodies alive and breathing. So why are we taking it for granted again?
When it comes to productivity, your brain is your best friend but only if you treat it right. Picture your brain as the only manager of a busy factory. They have to worry about everything and they have to to run the entire business by themselves. If we were in the same position we’d burn out in a couple of days and quit but our brains don’t get to quit. This is their job for as long as the factory remains open and they never get to stop even for a second. Knowing how hard they’re working all the time, shouldn’t we make some of that time more rewarding?
The following is a list of foods, activities, and tips to increase brain productivity and give a little back to the manager of that amazing factory you call ‘Me’.
Blueberries: Rich in antioxidants this simple berry has been linked to improving or delaying short-term memory loss and has been known to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Avocados: Sure they are fatty but they’re loaded with good fat, monounsaturated fat to be exact. This fat is good for increasing healthy blood flow in the body and healthy blood flow leads to a happier healthy brain.
Nuts: Nuts contain lots of vitamin E, which is great for combating the effects of aging on declining cognitive abilities.
Wholegrains: They contain sugars in the form of glucose and many wholegrains are on the lower end of the glycemic index, which means that they release glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate and provide a sustainable source of energy throughout the day. Energy helps maintain alertness and concentration allowing you to focus more on the tasks at hand.
Tomatoes: Like blueberries, tomatoes are rich in antioxidants helping to combat mental conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Fish: The oilier the better. Fish contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which the body is unable to make for itself. Omega-3 fats have been linked to lower dementia and stroke risks, aid in mental decline, and help general brain function by enhancing memory as we grow older.
Sage: Enhances flavor and has long been thought to improve the memory. History is full of wise people we called sages so what can it hurt to add some extra flavor to your foods or consume some form of sage oil? It makes you feel smarter just taking it.
Broccoli: So good for your body for a myriad of reasons, broccoli contains vitamin K which is excellent for improving brain function and cognitive ability.
Water: Staying hydrated is always important. Your body is mostly made up of water and water is a large part of your blood. Water is very important in transporting oxygen to the brain so the more you drink the less sluggish you’ll be.
Take a nap: You’re probably thinking, “What? Take a nap? How is that supposed to help me get all this work done?” Taking a nap can greatly help in increasing productivity by boosting your memory and your cognitive ability. The best time to nap in the day is between 1 and 3 pm and naps should only be as long as 20-30 minutes. Anything over 30 minutes puts you into a deeper sleep cycle and can have the opposite effect by making it harder to wake up after.
Take a break: Taking a short break can help facilitate a more creative outlook on to the task at hand. It allows you to break up the monotony of tackling a problem all day and work on it in chunks. Breaks also help to alleviate stress and increase your overall happiness.
Exercise: A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and exercise can help with brain cell growth. It’s also good for improving your cardiovascular system and promoting heart health.
Get good sleep: When our brain doesn’t get proper sleep it tends to work less efficiently. Concentration levels drop and it becomes harder for us to remember things. Our decision-making becomes more difficult as our brain falls into more rigid thought patterns and we have a tougher time generating new problem-solving ideas.
Brain games: Our brains need exercise the same as our muscles do. Exercising our brains leads to an increase in plasticity and keeps it from becoming lazy. Your brain likes thinking so give it new things to work on all the time like math problems, Sudoku, lateral puzzles, spatial problems, logic problems, arranging games, etc.
Do a jigsaw puzzle: A jig saw puzzle has the power to still the mind making it quiet as it focuses on the simple task of sorting and placing irregularly shaped pieces into some sort of order. Putting together a jigsaw puzzle stimulates both sides of the brain and helps to form connections that increase our abilities to remember, learn and understand. Your left hemisphere works on the puzzle logically, sorting the pieces and attempting to put them into order while your right hemisphere is more creative and intuitive, working on it by looking at the big picture.
Shake things up: Change your mundane routines slightly to open up new pathways and see things from new perspectives. Try closing your eyes when you tie your shoes, take a shower, eat a snack, tie your tie, etc. Brush your teeth, use the remote, eat, drink, open your door, etc. with your non-dominant hand. For years now, a friend of mine has been switching his watch from arm to arm every few weeks to, as he says, “Make my brain less lethargic.”
Learn something new: Again, your brain loves to learn and think and learning something you didn’t know before makes your brain happy. Challenging different parts of your brain encourages them to grow and develop much like lifting weights does for a muscle. The more you learn in a particular area the larger that region of the brain becomes.
Feed your brain the right foods and engage in some of the activities listed above and you’re sure to perform more productively and feel better mentally. Be sure to take care of your brain every day to guarantee that it continues to work at peak efficiency for years to come.
Tell us how you maintain your brain to enhance your productivity.