Improving Mental Focus And Memory
The vitality and health of your brain largely determine how strong your memory will be. Thankfully, there are number of things that can be done as it relates to improving mental focus and memory. Best of all, these can be done at any age. The brain has an astounding capacity to adapt to change, even during the senior years. This capability is referred to as neuroplasticity. Stimulated correctly, new neural pathways can be created by your brain. It can also modify existing connections and react and adapt in dynamic ways.
This capacity of the brain to reshape itself plays a major role in how we learn and memorize things. The power of neuroplasticity can be harnessed and used to intensify your ability to learn and process new information. Additionally, it can help in boosting your cognitive capabilities and enhance your memory.
Your brain would have developed millions of neural pathways by the stage of adulthood. This assists you in quickly recalling and processing information. They also help in solving familiar problems and executing familiar tasks with very little mental effort. However, consistently sticking to these well-worn paths will not provide your brain with the stimulation needed to grow and develop. For maximum function, it is important to shake things up at times.
Similar to muscular strength, your memory requires usage to continue to operate optimally. The more you engage your brain, the more you will be able to process and recall information. However, not all brain exercises are created equal. The exercises below will help in challenging your brain to create new pathways:
It is Challenges
Good brain-boosting activities will demand your undivided attention. However, having found the activity challenging at one point is not enough. It should still be an activity that involves mental effort. For instance, learning to play a new instrument would qualify as being adequately challenging. Playing a challenging piece of music you have already memorized would not be challenging enough.
It Educates about Something New
Regardless of how intellectually difficult the activity, if you are already good at it, this brain exercise is not good enough. The activity should be unfamiliar, something that takes you out of your comfort zone. To improve mental focus and memory, you need to consistently learn and develop new skills.
It Can Be Built On
Seek out activities that enable you to progress from an easy level and improve your skills as you go up. Continuously pushing the envelope will help to sharpen your abilities. When you start feeling comfortable at a previously challenging level, it is time to move on to the next performance level.
It is Rewarding
The learning process of the brain is supported by rewards. The more engaged and fascinated you are with the activity, the more you will want to do it. You will experience greater benefits as well. Therefore, you should choose challenging activities that are satisfying and enjoyable.
Below are some approaches that can be used to improve mental focus and memory:
Quality Sleep is Essential
There is a huge distinction between the amount of sleep required to function optimally and the amount needed just to get by. Studies show that for most adults to avoid sleep deprivation, they require between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep nightly. Lack of sleep compromises your critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, creativity and memory.
However, sleep is vital to mental focus and memory in an even more profound way. Studies have found that sleep is essential for memory consolidation. This is because the primary memory-enhancing activity takes place while you are in the deepest stages of sleep.
Getting on a regular sleep schedule is vital. Ideally, you should go to bed each night at the same time and get up each morning at the same time. Endeavor to keep this routine, even on holidays and weekends.
You should also take steps to lower your caffeine intake. Caffeine affects individuals differently. Some are highly sensitive to the stimulant and even drinking coffee in the morning could negatively affect their sleep. If you suspect that coffee is keeping you awake at night, take active steps to reduce your intake or cut it out entirely.
Socializing is Necessary
Filling your life with good friends and lots of fun is a remarkable way to reap cognitive benefits. Studies reveal that both brain health and emotional health benefit from meaningful relationships and a strong support system. A recent study found that individuals with active social lives recorded the slowest degree of metal decline.
As highly social animals, human beings are not meant to thrive in isolation. Our brains are stimulated by healthy relationships. In fact, having interaction with other people could be the best type of brain exercise.
To take advantage of the incredible benefits of socializing, you could start by joining a club, volunteering or making an effort see or speak to your loved ones more regularly. If human interaction is not readily available, a highly social dog or another pet could also be beneficial to brain health.
Check Those Stress Levels
Stress is among the brain’s most horrible foes. If left unchecked, chronic stress will destroy your brain cells and cause damage to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that deals with retrieving old memories and forming new ones. Research has also linked memory loss to stress. Below are some tips on managing stress:
• Be willing to say no and set realistic expectations
• Do not bottle up your feelings, express yourself
• Take small breaks throughout your day
• Resist the urge to multi-task and concentrate on one task at a time
• Create a healthy balance between work and recreational activities
Eat Brain-boosting Foods
Just like your body, your brain needs fuel to function at its best. You will tremendously benefit from a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and “healthy” fats like fish, olive oil and nuts. This type of diet also helps to improve your memory. Below are some nutritional tips on boosting your brainpower and lowering your risk of dementia:
Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Produce has a rich content of antioxidants, which are substances that safeguard your brain cells against damage. In particular, colorful fruits and vegetables are remarkable sources of antioxidant and are sometimes referred to as “superfoods.”
Get in Your Omega-3s.
Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial to the health of your brain. Fish is among the particularly rich sources of omega-3. This is especially true for cold water “fatty fish” like herring, halibut, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines and salmon.
If you would rather take a pass at seafood, you can opt for non-fish sources of omega-3s. These include flaxseed oil, seaweed, walnuts, ground flaxseed, pinto beans, kidney beans, spinach, winter squash, broccoli, soybeans and pumpkin seeds.
Drink Up Your Green Tea
Green tea is a great source of polyphenols, which is a powerful antioxidant that guards against brain-damaging free radicals. Regularly consuming green tea could also enhance your mental focus and memory.
Limit Saturated Fat and Calories
Studies show that your risk of dementia is increased when you consume diets with high contents of saturated fat from sources like ice cream, whole milk, red meat, cheese, butter and cream. This type of diet also impairs your ability to concentrate and memorize things.
Along with exercising your brain mentally, you should engage in physical activities to maximize the positive impact on your brain. Physical exercise assists your brain in staying sharp by increasing the oxygen that flows to your brain. They also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other disorders that result in memory loss. Additionally, exercise reduces stress hormones and intensifies the impact of helpful brain chemicals. Exercise also plays a vital role in neuroplasticity by stimulating new neuronal connections and enhancing growth factors.
Tips on Brain-boosting Exercises
• The brain can greatly benefit from aerobic exercises; therefore, it is important to engage in activities that keep the blood pumping. Typically, any exercise that keeps your heart healthy is highly beneficial to your brain.
• If the sleep fog lingers too long after you wake up, exercising in the morning could make a big difference. Apart from clearing away the fog, morning exercise can help with mental focus throughout the day.
• Exercise breaks can assist you in overcoming afternoon slumps and sharpen your mental focus. Even a few jumping jacks or a short, brisk walk could be enough for a brain reboot.
• Exercises that engage complex motor skills or require hand-eye coordination are especially beneficial to building the brain.
To start your journey of improving mental focus and memory, you can think of something new you have wanted to try. This could include learning to play a musical instrument, dancing the tango, juggling, making pottery, speaking a foreign language, playing chess or mastering your golf swing. As long as you are kept challenged and engaged, any of these activities can help in improving your mental focus and memory.