Who wouldn’t want a sharper brain, better cognitive skills, and better mental health? Your lifestyle and genetics determine how healthy your brain is and how well it functions. However, there are ways to boost your brain, and not all of them take a lot of time. Here are some things you can do in under 15 minutes to boost your brainpower.
Stress can affect how your brain functions short-term and longer-term. In fact, studies show that chronic stress can shrink portions of the brain, including the pre-frontal cortex, that are important for cognitive function. Mindfulness meditation helps relax your mind and shifts your focus to the present, rather than on the past or the future. Regular meditation boosts mental clarity and studies show it also improves attention and concentration. Plus, you can get benefits from only 15 minutes of focused meditation.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Most people breathe too shallowly and don’t fill their lungs with air. By breathing from your stomach rather than your abdomen, a practice called diaphragmatic breathing, you increase oxygen delivery and blood flow to organs, including the brain. Studies show that, like meditation, breathing boosts medical clarity. How do you know if you’re doing it right? When you’re breathing correctly, you should see your stomach rise with each breath. Plus, you should feel the expansion of your stomach.
Spend 15 Minutes Per day Learning a New Skill
Nothing sharpens and challenges your brain more than learning. When you learn something novel your brain forms new connections and pathways that increase cognitive reserve, extra reserve brain power you can tap into. Some of the best ways to do this is to learn a new language or how to play a musical instrument. You can also feed your brain by doing challenging puzzles and playing brain games. However, the benefits of learning an instrument or a language are stronger. For example, research shows people who are bilingual have a lower risk of cognitive decline.
Take 15 Minute Nature Walks
Exercise and nature have a synergistic effect on brain health. Studies show aerobic exercise, like a brisk walk, slows brain aging. One way aerobic exercise does this is by slowing the age-related loss of brain volume in an area called the hippocampus. What about nature? Exposure to nature relieves stress, a contributor to brain aging. Plus, studies show that green spaces and nature exposure improves attention, focus, and working memory.
Talk It Out
Spend 15 minutes each day talking with someone you care about, without a smartphone or other device in hand. Socialization and avoiding loneliness are one key to keeping your brain healthy. People who live in cultures where there are strong family and social ties have lower rates of dementia and cognitive dysfunction. Plus, talking about things that bother you with someone close to you helps get it out in the open, so you worry less about it.
Cut Back on Sugar
Sugar does nothing positive for your brain or your health. Eating sugary foods and refined carbohydrates causes blood sugar swings that can trigger fatigue, brain fog, and reduce your productivity. Longer-term, studies showing eating a diet rich in sugar reduces the brain’s production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which’s important for brain connectivity and cognitive function.
Plus, sugar has no nutritional value, so it cannot be used to feed your brain. The brain is an organ that uses about a quarter of the body’s calories even though it only makes up 2 percent of the body’s weight. What you eat and drink can have a direct impact on your ability to think clearly and feel good. Feed your brain with whole, nutrient-dense foods.
The Bottom Line
Take these small steps to protect your brain and give it a boost. Doing these things will also have benefits for your health as a whole.