You go to a gym to train your muscles, you run or hike to build your endurance but what can you do to train your brain? Training your brain will not only speed up your memory recall, it will also help you learn faster. There is, after all, only a limited number of hours in the day.
1. You are the company you keep
Each and every one of us is the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with, according to the business philosopher Jim Rohn at least. It is no coincidence that high achieving people tend to 'flock together'. Obviously, peer groups tend to have similar interests and like to discuss topics freely and without objections.
By associating yourself with intelligent people you will indirectly develop your own. So, as cold as it might sound, you might want to think again about the friends you spend most of your time with.
2. Get enough shut-eye
Any lack of rest, relaxation and/or excessive stress can seriously reduce the efficiency of your brain function. The human brain requires a large amount of energy to function. If you are constantly exhausted your mind won't be able to learn and improve. Some studies also show that a lack of sleep can reduce your IQ. So make sure you get enough shut-eye!
3. Read, read, read!
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise but don't underestimate the power of reading. Reading exposes you to new ideas and can influence and improve your mind. Being well-read not only improves your vocabulary but will also make you more articulate.
Reading also improves your general knowledge making you more capable of holding interesting conversations. It expands your communication skills and develops your analytical skills.
The best bit is you don't need to stick to 'dry' scientific tomes. Books like Lord of the Rings or Moby Dick will do the trick. Of course, you can dive into some heavy philosophy texts if you really want to turbocharge your brain.
4. Food glorious food!
You are what you eat, as they say. Food is the fuel for your body, and more importantly, for your brain. What you stuff down your throat can influence your brain function.
Foods high in nutrition work very well to power your brain. Walnuts, for example, are a fantastic source of brain food. Fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are rich in fatty acids that have been shown to help neuron function. Harvard recently conducted a great study on this exact subject. You should also make sure you get a regular intake of Omega-3 too.
5. Play games!
One of the best ways to make you smarter is to train your brain. Constantly facing challenges will help your brain go from strength to strength. The brain can be lazy sometimes. Once it realizes it has mastered something, it stops trying. The trick here is to use your full potential and push your limits. Brain games like Sudoku, brainteasers and other problem-solving games really help here. The right kinds of computer games can also boost your IQ!
6. Keep a diary or journal
If its good enough for the likes of Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Thomas Jefferson, keeping a diary might be a good idea for all of us. Getting into the habit of constantly taking notes or writing down things or ideas effectively create an extension to your mind.
Thoughts are fickle, ethereal things at times and unless jotted down they can be lost for good. By routinely recording your thoughts, you will enable yourself to think more clearly and thoroughly. Good behaviors like this will boost your ability to think with clarity.
7. Exercise your body as well as mind
Another obvious one here but do not underestimate the power of exercise. Any efforts you make to train your brain will be thwarted if you don't keep your body healthy too! A little physical activity will make it much easier for you to keep your brain in top shape. And it doesn't need to be a daily slog at the gym. Here is a 15-minute daily workout from 1904. Just make sure you also eat well!
8. Write with your hand
The modern world is addicted to keyboards. They are an efficient method of putting down information onto a page, rather than your hand, a pencil, and some paper. But apparently, we are missing a trick here. You can learn a lot more efficiently by writing longhand. So, when it comes to training your brain, it might be a good idea to put the laptop to one side. This happens because your brain's filtering system (the reticular activating system, or RAS) processes what you're actively focusing on at the moment. Writing triggers the RAS and lets your brain know it's time to pay attention.
9. Mix it up and keep doing it
Last up on the list is to keep it random. Try to actually do something new over and over again every day. New experiences force your brain to grow new pathways that will help you perform the new task faster and faster. The best way to learn is to do, as they say. Think about when you were a small child. Your days were a constant trial and error exercise. Each and every experience strengthens the neural pathways and makes a task that much easier until it becomes second nature. Just like learning to walk.
So there you go! 9 ways to train your brain. So now you know how, why not get out there and actually do it. Remember, only used knowledge is power.