1. Make sure you get plenty of exercise: For example, “Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., found that adult mice who ran on an exercise wheel whenever they felt like it gained twice as many new cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory, than mice who sat around all day discussing Lord of the Rings in Internet chat rooms.”
2. Expose yourself to novel experiences: This forms new connections in the brain, and gets underused areas working again. The benefit to you is an active, alert brain.
3. Be curious and ask “why?”: The brain is designed to question and to think. Thus, you build new neural pathways when you search for new solutions.
4. Laugh more: This releases endorphins – the body’s feel good hormones – and shakes up our thinking, and disrupts habitual patterns.
5. Eat more fish: Fish contains essential nutrients that nourish the brain. This is especially important for the young children, and the elderly (as it builds new connections, and staves off dementia.
6. Reduce your consumption of saturated fats: “When researchers at the University of Toronto put rats on a 40-percent-fat diet, the rats lost ground in several areas of mental function, including memory, spatial awareness and rule learning. The problems became worse with a diet high in saturated fats … Also, fat can reduce the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, and it may also slow down the metabolism of glucose, the form of sugar the brain utilizes as food.”
7. Get plenty of sleep: Sleeping on problems, and on new information, can improve our understanding and assist with retention.
8. Do important tasks when your brain is most awake: Every 90 minutes, we cycle through period of peak and low consciousness. To master key tasks, do them when you’re most alert, and not when you’re drowsy, or about to fall asleep.
9. Develop concentration: We need to learn to focus and to fully concentrate to develop our thinking and increase our brain’s connections. But being constantly distracted interrupts this crucial process.
10. Make time to play: Play encourages us to be more creative in our thinking, to develop better strategies, and think outside the box.