The adage "Use it or lose it" is especially true when it comes to your grey matter. Here are 49 fun and simple suggestions that will help sharpen your mind, improve your memory and boost your brain power.
1) Meditate: Meditation has been known to increase IQ, relieve stress, and promote higher levels of brain functioning. Meditation also activates the “prefrontal cortex” of the brain, an area responsible for advanced thinking ability and performance.
2) Draw A Picture: Drawing stimulates the right-hemisphere of the brain and inspires creativity. Get out the colored pencils and begin drawing your way to a powerful brain.
3) Exercise: Long-term exercise has been proven to increase brain power and even create new neurons in the brain. Go out and get a natural high off of your own brain chemistry through exercise!
4) Brainwave Entrainment: Brainwave entrainment is a safe, innovative way to stimulate and shape the brain and its functioning. You can literally build up more control over your life and harness your brain’s potential!
5) Avoid Junk Food: Junk food has been proven to decrease energy in the body and promotes “brain fog.” Cut some junk food from your diet and reap the benefits of a more calm, focused brain chemistry.
6) Deep Breathing: Deep breathing actually increases oxygen levels and blood-flow to the brain. Ten to fifteen minutes of daily deep breathing can make a huge difference in the quality of your life and brain’s functioning potential.
7) Learn A New Language: Learning adds more structure to the brain and improves the brain’s speech centers. Hablas español? It may be time for you to take a class or program to supplement your job skills and brain power!
8) Take Fish Oil: Fish oil supplements are literally like membrane material for the brain. The 2 primary components of EPA and DHA each act to strengthen both the emotional center of the brain and boost focus. There is an increase in overall brain activity after taking fish oil for a while.
9) Laugh It Up: Laughter causes a natural release of the brain’s endorphins — chemicals that drown out pain and increase overall well being. Laughter is a well known, natural stress reducer. Watch a comedy, crack a joke, and increase those endorphin levels!
10) Engage In Debate: A good, healthy debate strengthens the brain’s ability to think quickly and apply intelligence to verbal situations. Work to build up your brain power by engaging in plenty of healthy debate.
11) Take A Multivitamin: Vitamins are great for the brain, and if it does not get enough of a certain vitamin through daily diet, consider a multivitamin. Multivitamins help facilitate the functioning of a healthy body and enriched brain. Start popping a vitamin each morning for a while and chances are good that you’ll notice a difference!
12) Drink Red Wine: Alcohol in moderation has been proven to be good for the brain. Why? It is rich in antioxidants — chemicals that actually protect the brain! One glass daily for women and two for men is generally considered a healthy amount.
13) Eat Healthy: You know what ‘healthy’ is, so why not eat healthy and improve your brain? The brain requires a certain amount of energy to reach its maximum level of functioning. Eating chocolate cake and chips instead of fish and legumes? Well maybe that’s why you cannot think clearly.
14) Change Your Environment: To keep your brain properly stimulated, it is important to keep changing your environment. Drive a new route to work, eat at a new restaurant on Friday night. Changing the environment helps change the brain!
15) Set Goals: Setting goals activates areas of the brain associated with positive thinking and action. Setting goals is great for achieving success and prosperity in life and boosting your brain.
16) Listen To Music: Studies have proven that listening to music strengthens the right-hemisphere of the brain and literally changes the structure. Those same studies have found that people who listen to music are generally smarter and have more emotional intelligence than those who don’t.
17) Be Empathetic: Being empathetic and trying to understand the emotions of others is a skill that your brain can learn. Being empathetic is definitely a powerful trait to have and allows your brain to relate to the emotions of others.
18) Avoid Stress: A little bit of stress will never hurt anybody. Too much stress actually causes detrimental increases in the hormone “cortisol” which in high levels, kills brain cells and suppresses brain functioning.
19) Think Positive: If you are currently very good at thinking positively, chances are good that you already have a more powerful brain than those “Negative Nellies.” Take 10 minutes daily to think more positive and start noticing an improvement in thinking abilities and problem solving skills.
20) Brainstorm: A good brainstorming session to think of new, stimulating ideas is a great way to boost your brain's ability to think creatively. Brainstorming is actually a different way of thinking that will equip your brain with a quick creative boost.
21) Write An Article: Writing is linked to an improved memory and expression of thoughts. When you write, you are strengthening your brain’s natural ability to convey thoughts and feelings. Writing is a great way to exercise your ability to analyze and build a thought process with critical thinking. Journals, diaries, blog entries, and writing stories are phenomenal ways to fulfill your brain.
22) Visualize: Visualization has been associated with focus at a deeper level. Many successful athletes that are able to play “in the zone” actually visualize their game at a deeper level. Visualization has been linked to lowered stress, increased creativity, and peak mind-body performance.
23) Get Some Sleep: Be sure to always fulfill your brain’s need for sleep. Sleep clears out mental clutter and unimportant thoughts. Getting a good night’s sleep can also be the difference between a sharp memory and feeling forgetful. Everyone has different sleep requirements, so be sure to fulfill yours! If you don’t get enough sleep — you may want to take a nap…
24) Do Self-Hypnosis: The power of hypnotic suggestion is definitely real. You can change aspects of your thought process and learn to shift your focus by taking the time to do some self-hypnosis. Hypnosis research shows that by practicing hypnosis, an individual experiences lowered stress, increased pain tolerance, and clear thinking. Try it out for yourself if you haven’t already!
25) Do Crossword Puzzles: Crossword puzzles bring out your brain’s ability to critically think and recall past memories. The challenge of completing crossword puzzles is definitely mentally invigorating and stimulating. If you enjoy reading the newspaper, be sure to check out the daily crossword puzzles section and build up that brain power!
26) Eat Nuts: Brazilian and South American University students swear by eating nuts before taking exams. They notice that eating them is correlated with an increase in test scores. New studies are beginning to prove nuts' effectiveness at increasing brain power. If you do not eat a lot of nuts, try it sometime and reap the brain-related benefits!
27) Read Books: Reading books teaches your brain to adapt to absorb large amounts of information in shorter periods of time. Books challenge your thinking abilities and memorization skills, as well as boost vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Not only do you learn something from reading a book, but your brain power increases as you build up the book load.
28) Listen To Classical Tunes: Listening to classical music activates the left hemisphere of the brain, which is why classical music usually helps students do better in mathematics and writing. If you haven’t yet tried listening to some Mozart, consider it! Mozart has been linked to an 80 % increase in spatial intelligence scores!
29) Play “Brain Age”: New games like “Brain Age” for the Nintendo DS and Big-Brain Academy help promote quick thinking and essential brain skills. These games work wonderfully for improving thinking speed and natural problem solving skills. I’ve had a chance to play these games before and I can personally vouch for their effectiveness!
30) Take A Nap: Taking a nap has been proven through research to significantly improve task performance and thinking abilities. If you are feeling tired throughout the day and have time to take a quick nap, it is recommended. Naps are a wonderful refresher and quick little mental booster.
31) Turn Off The T.V.: Watching T.V. may not be the only reason why rotting begins in the brain, but it is a key ingredient to the rotting process. A little T.V. will never hurt anybody, but it does definitely change brain functioning. The act of watching T.V. slows brainwaves and causes a decline in brain fitness.
32) Paint A Picture: Being able to visualize where you want paint to go on paper sparks pure creativity from within. Painting is an exercise that gets the right-brain fully functioning and improves your creative side. If you haven’t tried painting a picture, give it a shot and notice that you’re likely to feel and be more creative.
33) Start Crying: Don’t be afraid to cry when the time is right! Crying actually heals emotions and promotes healthy circulation within the brain. Those who are able to cry are actually cleansing the inside of their brain, which is another very healthy way to increase brain power.
34) Eat Less: Eating too much food has the effect of decreasing blood flow to the brain and increasing blood flow to the digestive system. Therefore, if you are able to cut back on the total amount of food you consume, you will have enhanced brain functioning. In several lab studies, rats on a calorie-restricted diet had increased blood flow to their brains.
35) Eat Breakfast: When kids who hadn’t been eating breakfast for a while began to eat breakfast, their math grades went up an entire letter grade (on average). Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day — it provides your body with fuel for the rest of the day. If you don’t have time to eat an entire breakfast in the morning, at least have some sort of snack… It could give your brain a powerful edge!
36) Go For A Walk: Exercise definitely benefits the brain, and walking is a great form of exercise that is easy and very effective for boosting brainpower. Walking puts your mind in a relaxed state of clear thought and brain function. Walking gives your brain a chance to wander and free itself from any troubling thoughts.
37) Mimic Others: Being able to mimic other’s actions and talk activates several areas of the brain that are usually inactive. Mimicking others, if done in a fun, playful manner, can improve your brain power and the brain’s natural ability to adapt quickly when faced with new situations.
38) Solve Puzzles: Solving puzzles is a great way to stimulate your brain's ability to critically think and process information. Puzzles are thought provoking, challenging, and a fun activity. The great thing about puzzles is that they require activity in the left-hemisphere of the brain to work with, and transfer information to, the right hemisphere’s visual center of the brain. Want a more integrated brain? Solve a puzzle!
39) Do Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback is a great way to learn to consciously control your brain wave patterns. Neurofeedback builds brain structure and helps promote flexibility within a brain’s neural network. Though neurofeedback is somewhat costly, if you’ve got enough money — it may very well be the best investment you can make for your brain!
40) Reduce Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol in moderation isn’t terrible for the brain, but too much alcohol is damaging to brain health and function. If you want to boost brain power, cutting alcohol is a great way to do it. Alcohol can cause memory problems and encourage “foggy,” disorganized thinking.
41) Live A Drug-Free Lifestyle: Everyone knows that drugs are bad for them. Drugs do not foster creativity, they kill creativity and deplete brain cells. Depending on the drug, effects can range from brain bleeding, to cell loss, to impairments in neural growth. Live drug free and keep your brain more powerful!
42) Drink Freshly Squeezed Juice: Drinking fresh pressed vegetable juice revitalizes the brain and provides cells with a refreshing jolt of nutrients. Most juices provide your brain with vital nutrients which in turn, provide you with more mental energy and focus.
43) Be Self-Aware: When you learn to let go of ego-driven and emotional aspects of life, rational thinking kicks in. Rational thinking will allow you to become self-aware, which in turn allows you to make better future decisions to achieve optimal brain health. Activities like meditation, self-hypnosis, and introspection allow us to increase our self-awareness.
44) Take Gingko Biloba: Gingko Biloba has been scientifically researched and documented to significantly increase blood flow to the brain. Gingko Biloba is a fairly inexpensive way to pump up your brain’s blood flow. Increased blood flow to the brain is correlated with an increase in focus and problem solving. Try some Gingko Biloba and allow your brain to reap the benefits!
45) Have Sex: Having sex is a great way to naturally release vital hormones in the brain. When involved in a loving relationship, having sex improves social connection as well as emotional intelligence. Sex is connecting, stress-relieving, and a great way to give your brain a boost. Chances are that sex will also improve your confidence and ability to think positively!
46) Sniff Some Basil: I personally haven’t tried this method, but there seem to be many claims testifying for Basil’s effectiveness at improving overall brain function. Either way, certain fragrances actually change brain functioning. Taking a whiff of peppermint speeds up brain functioning, while other fragrances actually slow things down! Since scent is the strongest thing tied to memory, some good fragrances can definitely help out brain functioning.
47) Stay In School: If you are in school, chances are good that you will boost your brain power more than the average dropout! Keeping up with school work means giving your brain a good workout in areas of self-discipline, learning, and mental processing. Stay in school, or do something to always be learning something new!
48) Ask Questions: Asking questions is a phenomenal way to keep your brain in shape. Get in the habit of questioning others and their thoughts. Questions can provoke new thoughts and ideas, and asking them is a great way to build up brain power!
49) Re-Read This List: Want to boost your brain power? Start by re-reading this list and highlighting several methods that you can apply to your life. As a matter of fact, print this list out and staple it up someplace that you will view every day. That way, when walking past the list, you can take a glance and randomly choose an activity to boost your brain power!