What if I told you that you could improve your brain’s capacity for quick thinking and fact retention by engaging in a few novel tasks that may appear odd at first glance?
You would probably write me off entirely as someone practicing New Age medicine, but you would be wrong – these tips are backed by science.
And best of all, they’re really not that difficult to incorporate into your life, and the benefits are many.
In this post I will share a few of these strange methods I found in my research on how to improve my cognitive abilities.
So without delay here are 10 uncommon, unpopular, or just downright odd ways to boost your brain power.
1. Embrace an Ambidextrous Lifestyle
Your right hand is connected to your left brain hemisphere and your left hand is connected to your right brain hemisphere.
Complicated, right? Indeed, that’s why you tend to prefer one hand over the other – that’s a lot of work for your brain to engage in just to do simple tasks!
That’s why ambidexterity has benefits for brain power because it forces your brain to make new or strengthen existing pathways to complete daily tasks.
In “Getting a Grip on Memory: Unilateral Hand Clenching Alters Episodic Recall” researchers ruth E. Propper, Sean E. McGraw, Tad T. Brunyé, Michael Weiss discovered benefits to ambidexterity after putting subjects through a series of tests with measurements taken afterward (1).
2. Enjoy New Routes for Daily Commutes and Errands
A study of London taxi cab drivers found that their ability to recall multiple and various complex routes throughout the city of London was not only a boon for them on the job but also evidence of robust cognitive activity (2).
How you can incorporate this into your daily activities is by taking new routes to familiar places. This small change will not only help you possibly find a quicker route to work in the morning (or a faster way home in the evening) but it also has positive effects for your brain power.
3. Engage in a New Activity, and Master It
A study of older adults found that not only does engaging in a new activity or hobby provide a stimulating activity in retirement but also that it potentially has brain benefits, even helping with memory.
The study “The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults” outlined the power of learning one new skill and mastering it.
Note that the report says one new task and not multiple new hobbies. This is because the sustained focus on one new task and mastering that task is found to have a more immediate impact on the brain than multiple stimulative tasks which exhibit a more fleeting effect (3).
4. End Multitasking
Despite what modern life may pressure you to do, multitasking has a deleterious effect on your ability to perform well on daily tasks.
Stopping the multitasking chaos and embracing a focused approach will not only yield benefits in productivity and quality of output, but will also expand your brain power.
Bet you never thought of that did you? Research at MIT has found that multitasking just isn’t the way to go if you’re serious about what you’re doing, and, of course, we’re all serious about what we’re doing (4).
5. Ask Questions About the World Around You
When you explore the world around you, you begin a process of interrogation that has benefits for your brain and cognitive abilities.
Simple enough, but what exactly does this prescription for an inquisitive mind mean in practice? It means just asking questions about things you take for granted on a daily basis, even questions that you might think are strange or childish.
This Socratic approach to life has benefits for your ability to learn new tasks and retain information (5).
6. Stop Watching Television (and Netflix)
This may come as a depressing revelation to some and as a no brainer to others. You need to stop watching television, today.
Not only is television a largely passive task that doesn’t engage your brain in meaningful activity whatsoever, but it also accustoms your brain to this kind of passiveness (6).
As noted above, the benefits of an inquisitive mind are well noted, but imagine the opposite of an active, questioning mind?
Now you have television viewing. So stop the Netflix binge and begin asking yourself why?
7. Play Brain Teaser N-Back and Dual N-Back in the Morning and at the End of the Day
By training your working memory, you can reap rewards that were previously unthinkable from a simple brain teaser game.
Research using a game called N-Back and Dual N-Back had great effects for patients in a research study evaluating the effect of brain teasers on the development of the brain.
8. Lift Weights
Research from Harvard says that lifting weights is a great thing for your brain. Why you might ask? Because their research found that exercise, particularly weight lifting, had benefits for patients either suffering from cognitive dementia or on the cusp of suffering from that disease.
A simple regimen of weight lifting helped these patient immensely according to Harvard’s study, imagine what it could do to you? (8)
9. Stick to a Strict Sleep Schedule
This might come off as common sense to you but it bears repeating: Get plenty of sleep. People who don’t get enough sleep perform on a lower level than those who are well rested.
The effects on the brain are many and not getting enough sleep can have harmful repercussions throughout the day on everything from memory to coordination.
The other thing is you can’t make up a sleep deficit, you can only start a healthy sleep schedule now. So start getting more sleep and tell people science told you so (9).
10. Salmon’s Benefits for Your Brain
Now a tasty tip to polish this article off and in a great way. Do you like Salmon sushi, or sashimi? Maybe a nice herbed filet of salmon for dinner?
Then you’re on the right track to maintaining a healthy brain through diet according to science. The essential fatty acids found in salmon are what powers the brain benefits and they are not to be underestimated in their potency.
So don’t make it beef for dinner, choose salmon instead (10).
What Is Your Favorite Method? Share With Us!
After reading this post, surely you have at least one preferable way to improve your brain power.
For most people, sleeping is their preferable method (very obvious!).