Much like a chef’s knife becoming dull over time, the brain can become cloudy after years of steady use. In both situations, they will lose their edge slowly without realizing drastic change. Our daily routine will become a key component in the upkeep of healthy neurological functioning. There is a plethora of daily activities that will keep your mind with a chef’s quality of sharpness.
Read, Read, Read!
Reading initiates the brain’s ability to visually and verbally process information. The occipital lobe or the visual processing center of the brain develops stronger in avid readers. This could enhance imagination and creativity skills as well as improve planning and decision-making abilities. Reading content doesn’t have to be limited to textbooks and ancient philosophy either. Fiction books are phenomenal for the development of our cognitive function. The narratives in fictional books engage our capacity in a unique way; when we relate to a fictional character, engagement will boost overall function. Imagining a character’s wants, guessing hidden motives, and tracking encounters all stimulate connectivity in the brain.
Becoming emersed in reading can also reduce stress. One study at the University of Sussex showed that just as little as 6 minutes of reading slowed heart rates and reduced muscle tension in participants. Reading is a neurological workout that preserves memory and thinking skills as our lives progress.
Write down everything!
Remember taking notes in school? This is the same concept but for everyday life. Maintaining a journal and keeping our minds active with daily writing activities will help the brain stay engaged and enhance focus. Though, if you find yourself struggling to come up with writing content, focus on the 5 senses: describe the smell of a location, your sight, and what you felt when you were there – go into excruciating detail! A good thing to also note is that physically writing is better than typing because it stimulates the Reticular Activating System, which filters everything the brain is processing and determines which points to bring to the forefront of your frontal lobe. Writing will also increase brain plasticity, which is the ability to form new neural pathways – which is important considering its primary function is to store thoughts within our heads!
Neuroscientists agree unanimously that physical activity is the key to mental prosperity throughout our lifetime. Studies show that physical activities will help increase the size of overall brain structure which ultimately impacts memory and learning. The communication lines between various regions in the cerebrum are proven to become faster and more efficient after exercising as well. Exercise gets the blood pumping through the brain and aids in the production of more blood vessels. Which in return feeds the brain with oxygen and nutrients.
Exercise will also flood the brain with dopamine and endorphins as well as get rid of chemicals that make us feel stressed and anxious. This could result in better sleep which in return, results in better cognitive function ability.
Experts recommend exercising for at least 1 hour a day to keep your mind sharp; swimming, dancing, or even throwing a frisbee are just a few examples of low-impact activities that many of us can enjoy! Keeping sharp mentally is an everyday task but will pay off exponentially. Little by little others will notice the progress. Because the brain is such a dynamic organ, it is never too late to get in the kitchen and start to sharpen that knife!