There are lots of reasons you might want to start brain training, or feel your brain is weakening and want to do something about it. In this article I’ll show you 3 ways to actually do something about that brain of yours!
These ways are Mental Exercise, Physical Exercise and Good Lifestyle. These are of course vast subjects, so read on for an explanation and expansion on them.
As with almost every part of your body, it has so called plasticity. You of course know that when you train hard enough, your muscles will grow. That is because you’re putting more pressure on them and they will adapt to that by getting bigger, so the next time you put that much pressure on them it doesn’t feel like much anymore.
That is plasticity. And it works for your brain too. Remember being in elementary school, and learning the basic principles of math? At first you were really useless at doing those something x somethingelse equations, because you had never seen them before. But after some training and practicing with them, you got better at multiplying figures. And not just the figures you practiced with, all figures. Once you became really quick at it and learnt some tricks, you could multiply anything easily.
And it works the same way with anything else in your brain. If you want to have a better memory, what better way than to try to use your memory more often (put more pressure on it), and use it in a variety of ways?
Research has shown that you, when you train your brain often and in creative ways, indeed grow extra ‘brain muscle’. But how do you train them then? How do you ‘just try to use your memory more often’?
It has to do with certain activities that challenge your brain, just as with muscle growth. These include:
- Activities that make you use all your senses or engage in novel experiences (thus activities that challenge your brain in a way you’ve never done before)
- Activities like learning an instrument and playing it, learning a new language or painting require you use a certain creativity while coordinating multiple brain regions
- Activities in which you have to plan ahead, like chess or other board/card games, these stimulate the Frontal Lobe area (the area that you really use while ‘living’, it’s for short-term memory tasks, planning, attention, motivation, etc.) in the brain
Unless you really like sitting and planning every detail of the upcoming hour in your head, playing games is the better way for mental exercise.
We also recommend playing board or card games with friends or family every now and then, and learning something new every now and then. That could be an instrument, or something with art/design, or a new language, whatever you feel is great to learn.
Your brain is made out of neurons, or nerve cells, and in your body those nerves control your body by feeling and ‘measuring’ everything, and in your brain they make connections and make sure your nerve system in your body is working great. Therefore, if you grow more muscle or learn certain ‘moves’, your body needs more nerve cells, and your brain needs more neurons to control all that.
And therefore, you should do exercise at least 30 minutes per day, every day of the week. This can be anything that’s at least a little bit challenging. It will not only make you grow muscle, but also lose fat, and thus grow your brain.
But don’t just sit in your room every day, and do some sit-ups and other exercises for 30 minutes. Going outside and doing a real sport is way better for your brain!
If you would for example go play basketball, you’ll by exercising learn how to properly shoot, how to jump higher, how to dribble swiftly, perhaps some tricks with the basketball. Those are all skills that also require quite a lot of training for your body and brain to perform, and when you master these you have a stronger brain!
The third aspect that controls your brain, is maybe the most important one. A good lifestyle. It means:
The second reason is that other people always inspire you. Well, if you’re not the jealous type. If you are, I have on thing to say: don’t be. Other people may have different opinions of things, different things they know a lot about, a different look on certain subjects. And if you listen to them, and discuss things with them, you will get lots of ideas and motivation for things. Because, what’s a better motivation and inspiration than that some people for example know that you can design things, and they ask you to design a logo for them?
- Eating well: if you don’t eat enough, you don’t have enough resources to grow muscle, brain or have enough energy for being active and focussing on things/thinking. If you eat too much, most of your brain will become filled with neurons controlling your body (but still better eat too much than too little). Make sure you have breakfast, drink enough and eat many different things (variety is the key).
- Sleeping well: just as with eating, if you don’t sleep well, you don’t have the power to really train yourself and be concentrated. Very young kids need 11-13 hours of sleep, when you get older that will become less and less. When someone hits teenage age (high school)he/she needs at least 9 hours of sleep. But the problem here is that nature tells adolescents to stay up late while school makes them wake up early. When you’re older (25+) you need less sleep, around 6-7 hours per night.BUT, how much sleep you need really depends on how much you do in one day. Don’t make yourself exactly follow these numbers, your body knows how much sleep it needs.
- Being active: something that works, when done properly, almost as good as brain training games is living an active life. If you don’t have some motivation to learn things or do new things every day, your brain will not grow. And if you have the motivation, it’s easy. But getting that motivation is not always so easy for everyone. You get the motivation from being optimistic, daring and having people around you.
Being social: and why ‘having people around you’ is so important, is because being social is important. This holds 2 reasons:
The first reason is that we humans have such complex brain, because we’re very very social animals. We need that brain to keep track of all the people we know, to keep track of a conversation or discussion, almost everything we do in daily life is social. So the more you talk with people, do things with them, play a team sport, etc., the more your brain will grow.
The second reason is that other people always inspire you. Well, if you’re not the jealous type. If you are, I have one thing to say: don’t be. Other people may have different opinions of things, different things they know a lot about, a different look on certain subjects. And if you listen to them, and discuss things with them, you will get lots of ideas and motivation for things. Because, what’s a better motivation and inspiration than that some people for example know that you can design things, and they ask you to design a logo for them?