It is often said that having a healthy brain is not only vital to happiness and fulfillment in life, but also vital to success at work. A couple of previous employers of mine were under the impression that being very physically fit was part in parcel of performing well at work.
This is partially true, but often people forget that also having a healthy brain contributes towards other important things like mindset, focus, clarity, determination, distraction control and flow, which all are headed towards overall success: mental, physical or financial. A well-functioning brain creates more opportunity for success in each aspect of life. It is incredibly challenging to reach the pinnacle of success when your brain doesn’t function at the highest level. People who have improved brain function and performance are better able to follow directions, implement plans and stay on track.
Here are 10 things you can do starting now to improve brain function, clarity, focus, power and overall health.*
1. Do something new
When you experience something new your brain is stimulated. This creates new neural pathways, increasing your intelligence level, and even reduces the likelihood of dementia. What ever you are doing now in your daily routine, figure out a way to do it differently. Stimulation can be this simple.
2. Exercise regularly
It’s been proven that regular exercise helps to increase brain function and enhances neurogenesis. This means that every time you exercise you are creating new brain cells. Employers should encourage their staff to stay healthy and exercise regularly – fit employees are less likely to get sick! Regular exercise is NOT walking for 10 minutes on the treadmill reading your text messages (I see that very often). It’s getting outside or into the gym and doing at least 30 minutes of active movement, phone-free.
3. Train your memory
Discipline yourself to memorise phone numbers and other important numbers (passport, credit cards, insurance, driving license) you will start to see a marked improvement in your memory. Our modern world of smart phones and Google is actually giving us “digital amnesia” – we do not need to remember anything.
4. Be curious
Instead of taking everything at face value, get into the habit of questioning everyday things, like products, services and even foods that you come into contact with. When you are curious and questioning everything, you force your brain to innovate and create new ideas and possible alternatives and solutions.
5. Think positively
Stress and anxiety kill existing brain neurons and also stop new neurons from being created. Research has shown that positive thinking, especially in the future tense, speeds up the creation of cells and dramatically reduces stress and anxiety. Positive also breeds positive – if you are positive at work it is likely that people around you will be positive as well. Stay away from the narcissists and “gas lighters” – mix with colleagues who uplift and encourage you.
6. Eat healthily
Our diets have a HUGE impact on brain function. Our brains consume over 20% of all nutrients & oxygen that we consumed – so remember to feed your brain with the good stuff! (i.e. fresh fruit and veg and plenty of OMEGA 3 oils found in oily fish).
7. Read books
Reading relieves tension and stress (brain-cell killers) because it’s a form of escapism. No matter how much you want to “hustle”, you still need to escape. Research has also shown that using your imagination is a great way to train your brain because you force your mind to picture what you are imagining. Reading is a great way to trigger your imagination.
8. Get enough quality sleep
Sleep is like a mini detox for the brain. Quality sleep actually washes the brain. This is when your body regenerates cells and removes all the toxins that have built up during the day. The optimal temperature for the best release of hormones while we sleep (65-67 degrees F). Ditch the use of electronics prior to sleep as this inhibits melatonin secretion from the pituitary gland. Remember, alcohol and a good night’s sleep do not mix! It can induce sleep, but it is disruptive to proper deep sleep.
9. Switch off the GPS
Gone are the days of map reading. GPS may have made our lives easier, it has also made our brains lazier and less efficient at the same time. Go back to the old school and use a map to navigate every now and then (this exercises the part of your brain responsible for understanding spatial relationships).
10. Ban the calculator
30 years ago at school, we were taught to use our brains to do simple sums like times tables.No calculators were allowed. It’s incredible how we now rely on devices like smart-phones and laptops to calculate really simple equations. Resist the urge to work things out using an external device – and use the device you were born with – your brain.