A brain is a soft place, but it can and should be trained. We offer a collection of exercises that will make you a career and get rid of unnecessary body movements.
Day 1. Add turmeric to food and drink pomegranate juice
The brain needs no less regular and healthy nutrition than the stomach, but do not rush to buy supplements. According to scientists of the Brain Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg) and many other researchers, curry seasoning, which includes turmeric, strengthens memory and is a good prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric has an incredible amount of natural antioxidants – just like pomegranate juice. The latter, by the way, is even able to prevent brain damage in infants caused by fetal hypoxia. Rosemary, cinnamon, basil, oregano, thyme, and sage are all very good for the brain. There are many useful antioxidants in blueberries, grapes, prunes, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, fish, turkey, olive oil, and apples.
Day 2. Stretch the fun
There is a theory that the hormone dopamine, necessary for attention and concentration, is released in the process of anticipating pleasure. Children who can resist the temptation to eat the candy that was put in front of them, years later, were more intellectually developed than those who immediately ate it – because they learned to control their attention by focusing on something else. Follow their example. Leave the cake that you were going to eat for dinner until tomorrow’s lunch – and you will not only keep the figure and train willpower but also increase concentration.
Day 3. Memorize your close friends’ phones
What for? For training short-term memory, which scientists call “a lever that can raise all intelligence.” There was such an experiment: volunteers were asked to simultaneously listen to a sequence of letters and observe the appearance of figures in different places on the monitor. Participants had to determine when the pronounced letter and the position of the square were repeated several times. The more they practiced in these tasks, the higher their mobile intelligence became – the ability to solve problems regardless of the knowledge available. If the phones are remembered poorly, play “memory” (these are games for memory training – a good selection is on the www.improvememory.org/category/games), make a list of shopping and urgent things in your mind, hideaway a calculator or memorize chapters from “Eugene Onegin”.
Day 4. Get elump your sleep and feel the difference
A study conducted by scientists at Harvard University showed that memory continues to work in a dream, so the next morning it is easier to remember what did not come to mind the night before. Put a bouquet of roses in the bedroom or light an aromatic lamp when preparing for an exam or a responsible speech, and your chances of success will increase – the smell of roses, as well as geraniums, has a beneficial effect on memory and calms the nerves. Aromaenergetics for the brain is mint, cypress, and lemon.
Day 5. Move
Physical activity promotes the growth of new cells of the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for the formation of emotions and memory consolidation) and protects existing ones. German researchers from the University of Ulm proved that after a 30-minute run, concentration increases, information is better remembered, you make fewer mistakes in the work. And in old age, people who lead an active lifestyle with a lot of aerobic loads are 40% better oriented in space, which also correlates with the size of their hippocampus. In addition, when the body spends more kilojoules on muscle work, the brain has to make do with less energy. As a result, special substances are produced that have a beneficial effect on the activity of neurons.
Day 6. Learn the language
Which one is irrelevant, everyone is equally useful. When the brain of a person who speaks French and English chooses which language to use, the cortical connections responsible for both languages are activated. Then the “managerial” zone in the sub-frontal cortex of the brain is connected, which selects the right word. This zone is responsible for the higher functions of thinking, so when you learn new languages, other areas of the brain are activated, raising your IQ. If you’re not ready to enroll in courses right away, start with small steps. Learn the words of the French song you like. Find the original of Shakespeare’s favorite sonnet in the audio version and listen to it several times throughout the day. Try to watch a familiar movie without translation. Place a Latin aphorism written in large letters in a prominent place. And if you decide to study in an old-fashioned way – memorizing nouns and verbs – you will be rewarded: after an hour of such exercises, you will feel how your head is freed from unnecessary thoughts.
Day 7. Solve puzzles
Puzzles and crossword puzzles reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia, so do not berate yourself from spending an hour and a half a day solving Sudoku on the phone. It is also useful to collect puzzles – this simple occupation trains individual parts of the brain without loading it at the same time 100%, allowing you to think about pressing matters. But for this method to work for sure, get a permanent partner – for a game of scribble and not only! According to numerous studies, those who had a couple in mid-life are 50% less likely to lose their way in old age than those who lived alone.
Day 8. Listen to smart people
The world’s best minds regularly gather at international TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences, where they discuss the latest news of science and culture, such as brain mapping and prenatal intelligence. Their extremely fascinating and often sensational lectures can be listened to by downloading the TED application to your phone or through the website of www.ted.com/talks – there you can set subtitles with any language, including Russian.
Day 9. Meditate
The brain is capable of recharging when it works as if in standby mode. This happens when you dream or just sit without thinking about anything. Using MRI, Japanese scientists measured changes in cerebral blood flow in 63 volunteers who were asked to try to consciously suspend the flow of thoughts. Those who had the most active blood circulation in the white matter that connects neurons, the best then generated new ideas. For neophytes, the classic method of meditation is suitable: close your eyes, relax, distract yourself from everything, and focus on your breath. If everything is done correctly, after ten minutes you will feel that the brain is rested.
Day 10. Eat bitter chocolate, drink red wine and water
Bitter chocolate and red wine contain flavonoids that improve memory. Still trying to drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Dehydration causes the brain to work in a tense mode, which reduces mental activity.
Day 11. Go to the exhibition
British doctors from Oxford Royal University examined 5350 people from different social strata. In one group there were lovers of intellectual leisure, regularly attending performances and exhibitions, in the second – homebody, spending the weekend at the TV. It turned out that the memory, attention, and intelligence of the representatives of the first group were much less affected by age-related changes. Conclusion: the brain is much better rested when we comprehend something, analyze, compare, and at the same time also get aesthetic pleasure. When contemplating works of art, blood flow increases in the part of the brain that is responsible for pleasures and desires. When the participants of the experiment admired the paintings, the MRI recorded feelings similar to those that a person usually experiences when looking at a loved one.
Day 12. Play a video game
Numerous studies prove that video games are able to activate the hidden potential of the brain and teach you to better navigate not only in virtual but also in real space. Scientists from the University of Rochester have found that people who play action games several times a week can simultaneously monitor a large number of objects and more efficiently process rapidly changing visual information.
Day 13. Learn salsa
Dancing in general is an excellent therapy, “unloading” the body and brain. Any rhythmic movement to the music will increase cerebral circulation and ensure the release of the hormone oxytocin, which activates the work of neurons. And some dances – especially those that require developed coordination – teach a quick reaction, help to concentrate, and tune in to decision-making.
Day 14. Arrange a siesta for yourself
Participants who slept during the day for 90 minutes after performing a task involving the hippocampus (memorizing the names of 120 strangers) remembered more names than those who did not lie down to take a nap. Even more surprising is that in the evening they managed to remember even more names than the first time, and again get ahead of their unruptured comrades. If you do not have the opportunity to take a nap for an hour and a half, lie down with your eyes closed for at least five to ten minutes. This mini-siesta also gives cheerfulness to the spirit and increases the level of energy.
Day 15. Sign up for a massage
Make it a rule to do a general body massage at least once every two weeks. Touching the skin activates a huge number of nerve endings – intermediaries between the skin and the brain. The brain in response gives the body the order to produce endorphin – the hormone of happiness. This ancient way of influencing the nervous system can bring more benefits than experiments with medications – especially if you do a massage course. Sex is also useful – at least once a week, and, as studies show, the presence of orgasm does not affect the work of the brain. The main thing is the process, not the result!
Day 16. Do something with your own hands
Wave the spokes and tie a beautiful scarf. Make a gift to your friend a bracelet made of multi-colored beads. Table your initials with a surface on the pillow of your beloved man. At worst, sew the fallen buttons. Any training of fine motor skills activates the intellect. Even better, if you try to do it in a completely new way – for example, try to sew a button with your left hand.
Day 17. Buy a yellow blouse or scarf
It is proved that the yellow color stimulates brain activity. Also, mental activity is toned by red and orange colors, and green and blue, on the contrary, calm down.
Day 18. Do an ultrasound of the cervical arteries
Once a year, check the condition of your vessels to make sure that your brain is not “on a starvation ration”. With violations of microcirculation or spasm of blood vessels, the brain lacks oxygen and glucose. This may cause a headache and you will begin to literally “slow down”. But resorting to Ritalin, cogitum and other drugs to stimulate the brain without serious medical indications is not worth it. This is “health on credit” – nootropics help, but are addictive and have a lot of side effects. As for vitamins, E, C, and folic acid are useful for the brain.
Day 19. Build a “Palace of Memory”
This is the name of the technique that helps to remember faster. Associate what you want to remember with some bright pictures. Even if you don’t have the patience to build a “palace,” at least familiarize yourself with this technique by reading Dominic O’Brien’s how to develop an absolute memory.
Day 20. Try not to smile
Experiments have shown that by just by frowning, you begin to think more skeptically and analytically. Perhaps this American experiment in Russia is not indicative – we have here all the usually surging. But in general, it is true: laughter is a rest for the brain, and melancholy provokes serious work of thought and reflection.
Day 21. Listen to Mozart
Psychologists made a discovery ten years ago: Mozart’s musical works improve mathematical thinking. Even rats after listening to Mozart overcame the mazes faster and more accurately than after the noise or, for example, Philip Glass.
Day 22. Re-read Shakespeare
Scientists from the University of Liverpool have proved that Shakespeare’s language can make us smarter. Yes, in principle, any artistic language, especially if it is poetry. The linguistic “functional shift method,” in which, for example, a noun is used as a verb, causes the brain to understand what a word means before its function in a sentence is realized. It makes the head work hard. If Shakespeare puts you to sleep, read any classics. Even if it’s 15 minutes a day. Reading stimulates the imagination: the plot of the book turns into visual images in the head, which stimulates brain activity. The more you read over the course of your life, the less you will be bothered by “cognitive impairment” (read “stupidity”).
Day 23. Try to do it differently
Neuroscience professor Lawrence Katz calls it “neurobics” — a charge for the brain. These exercises prevent dendrites (processes of nerve cells) from atrophying since their performance includes different areas of the brain. The point is to change the normal course of events and make the brain work in new ways in new circumstances. For example, to go to work by a completely different route. Take a shower with the lights off, using touch instead of sight. Go to the restaurant “In the dark” with blind waiters, where they eat to the touch. Try holding the spoon with your left hand all day (if you’re right-handed). Unexpected food for breakfast, a new way to warm up before training, a crossword puzzle instead of a detective for the night – everything counts! With a little practice, you can easily come up with neurobic exercises. Every day is new, it’s important.
Day 24. Be happy with stress
Academician N.P. Bekhtereva, who for many years led the study of the superpowers of the human brain, received evidence that insights are visited not only by geniuses. Intellectual and creative breakthroughs in ordinary people occur when they have to solve super tasks. From which the conclusion follows: difficulties are necessary, and problems that at first glance seem insoluble may be the best that life has to offer us.
Day 25. Play the piano
Pull out the old notes and swipe the dust off the lid. No one else stands over you with a pointer like in your school years, and you can play for fun. What you want – from a dog waltz to avant-garde pieces of your own composition. Didn’t learn music? You are lucky – you do not have to overcome your own negative experience! Take lessons from a professional musician, a gifted neighbor, or your own second-grader son. Whether you’re blowing, hitting strings, or banging sticks, playing any instrument increases IQ because it involves the part of the brain responsible for memory and coordination.
Day 26. Start writing with a pen
Write a letter to a loved one on paper. Try to rewrite the text you like, changing the handwriting several times beyond recognition. Practice writing with your left hand if you’re right-handed. Do the morning exercise “Morning Pages”, recommended by Julia Cameron in the book “The Artist’s Way”: get up half an hour earlier, take a pen and just write down everything that comes to your mind, without editing or criticizing. You might even want to do calligraphy. Brain scans show that with the sequential movements that the hand performs during writing, the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, speech, memory, that is, the entire system of temporary storage and processing of information, are activated. By the way, it is proved that younger and middle-aged students use more words, write faster and express their thoughts better when they write by hand, rather than typing on a keyboard.
Day 27. Don’t deny yourself coffee
You can drink both the second cup and the third. It has been found that women who drink up to four cups of coffee a day are less likely to have depression than those who allow themselves one cup a week. Other studies have shown that coffee improves short-term memory. In 2011, the journal Nature Neuroscience published a study confirming that caffeine in laboratory rats activated neural connections. And the more connections between neurons, the higher the ability to learn and remember.
Day 28. Start a blog or write a review on the Internet
On the Internet, anyone has the right to be a critic. Write about what you like or dislike on sites that welcome unprofessional reviews (afisha.ru, tripadvisor.ru, booking.com). Lying out an opinion will help you better understand your own way of thinking. Analysis and a critical form of thinking are effective vitamins for your brain.
Day 29. Do the Pythagorean exercise before bedtime
Scroll through the events of the last day in your mind, remembering the smallest details. Ask yourself, “What did I do today? What’s an important thing you didn’t do? What am I ashamed of? What should you rejoice?” Having mastered the technique of the “exam of consciousness” regarding what happened during the day, begin to gradually plunge into the past. Remember what happened yesterday, the day before yesterday, trying to restore any more or less important details. “Exam of consciousness” perfectly trains memory and attention. And conscience – it is no accident that confession is prepared in much the same way.
Day 30. Play with the kids
Their immediacy awakens creative energy in adults. In addition, it is a great workout for the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotions. (Crying from tenderness is also good for the brain.) The development of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy, and sociability) is a no less worthy task than the struggle for a high IQ score. Plus the eternal children’s habit about everything to ask “why?” is good to adopt and adults. If you allow yourself to be curious and ask yourself and others this question many times a day, you will be answered. Imagine how many interesting things you will learn!
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