Do you find yourself forgetting where you put something? Or perhaps you just can’t remember the name of that person even though you see them all the time.

If you want to retain your memory then you have to work at it. Your brain needs to be used in different ways to maintain your acuity; such as our suggestions to help you at it, go and read!

We don’t just lose muscle over time — our brains can go through atrophy, too. More specifically, your brain’s cognitive reserve — its ability to withstand neurological damage due to aging and other factors without showing visible signs of slowing or memory loss — diminishes through the years. That can make it more difficult to perform mental tasks.

But just as weight workouts add lean muscle to your body and help you retain more muscle in your later years, researchers now believe that following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular, targeted brain exercises can also increase your brain’s cognitive reserve.

Giving your brain new experiences that combine physical senses—vision, smell, touch, taste, and hearing—with emotional “sense” stimulates more connections between different brain areas, causes nerve cells to produce natural brain nutrients that dramatically help memory, and makes surrounding cells stronger and more resistant to the effects of aging.

Try these brain exercises during your morning routine or your down time and see if you feel the difference.

1. Write instead of type (More Often)

We love our keyboards. They’re much more efficient at getting words on the page than your hand, a pencil, and a notebook. Nonetheless, you can learn more effectively by writing longhand and so you may want to ditch the laptop when you’re acquiring new knowledge. 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.

2. Brush teeth with your non-dominant hand.

Research has shown that using the opposite side of your brain (as in this exercise) can result in a rapid and substantial expansion of in the parts of the cortex that control and process tactile information from the hand. Brush, and don’t forget to open the tube and apply toothpaste in reverse, too.

3. Switch seats at the table.

In most families, everyone has his or her “own” seat, but your brain benefits from new experiences. Switch seats to change whose position you occupy, who you relate to, your view of the room, and even how you reach for salt and pepper.

4. Challenge your mind.

One of the simplest methods to boost your brain function is to keep on learning. The size and structure of neurons and the connections between them actually change as you learn. This can take on many forms above and beyond book learning to include activities like traveling, learning to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language, or participating in social and community activities.

Another important method? Brain aerobics. As with learning, challenging your brain with mind-training exercises can keep your brain fit as you age. This can be something as simple as thinking of famous people whose first names begin with the letter A, doing crossword puzzles, or playing board games that get you thinking. Research has even shown that surfing the Web activates regions in your brain related to decision-making and complex reasoning. So unlike passively watching TV, using the Internet is an engaging task that may actually help to improve your brainpower.

5. Make a new connection with your nose.

You probably don’t remember when you “learned” to associate the smell of coffee with the start of a day. However, by linking a new odor—say, vanilla, citrus, or peppermint—to an activity, you’ll alert new neural pathways. Keep an extract of your favorite scent near your bed for a week. Open it and inhale when you first wake up, andwhen you first wake up, and then again as you bathe and dress.

6. Act Like You’re Teaching.

You can utilize the skills you already have more effectively by acting like you’re teaching. Rather than just recalling the steps needed to complete the task at hand, pretend as though you’re teaching yourself how to do it. This will help you recall the necessary information better and avoid making stupid mistakes.

7. Turn familiar objects upside down. Literally.

When you look at things right-side up, your left “verbal” brain quickly labels it and diverts your attention elsewhere. When they’re upside down, your right brain networks kick in, trying to interpret the shapes, colors, and relationships of a puzzling picture. Turn pictures of your family, your desk clock, or an illustrated calendar upside down.

8. Just do more than loving the music.

Recently, neuroscientists discovered multiple ways that musical training improves the function and connectivity of different brain regions and improves cognitive function. Practicing a musical instrument increases brain volume and strengthens communication between brain areas.

9. Switch around your morning activities.

Brain imaging studies show that novel tasks exercise large areas of the cortex, indicating increased levels of brain activity in several distinct areas. This activity declines when the task becomes routine and automatic. Get dressed after breakfast, walk the dog on a new route, or change your TV or news station. Even watching a kids’ program like Sesame Street , for example, may arouse the brain to notice how much of what you take for granted is explored in depth by children.

10. Meditate, any time.

Nothing kills your ability to use your brain effectively, as well as your brain’s overall health, like too much stress. What’s a great way to reduce your stress levels? Meditation—and you don’t need to do it with incense and yoga pants. Just relax during the day and take a few minutes to take your thoughts away from your routine.

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