Train Your Brain: How To Keep Your Brain Razor Sharp

The Best Brain Training Tips

In this article we’ll show you 3 easy brain training tips to keep your mind feeling younger and your brain feeling smarter.

We spend hours looking for the latest anti-wrinkle creams, searching for workouts that’ll chisel us into gods and goddesses and invest in other body hacks that we’ve no idea will work or not. Yet so few of us invest our time and effort into training our brain for lifelong cognitive benefits. Now, with these 3 easy brain training hacks, you’ll be able to dedicate quality time to help you to keep your brain as maintained as the rest of your body.

Brain Training: Learn When You’re Happy

Train your brain when you're happy. A child has their hands covered in paint after a fun day of learning.

Keeping your brain active and functioning sounds like a challenging feat. And when the thought of learning something new comes into play, we can often feel like running for the hills (which by the way is also good for your brain!) It’s time to change the way you think. Your brain LOVES learning, it’s addicted and can’t get enough of the stuff, so keep on learning.

Top tip: It’s important to learn whilst feeling happy. In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor discusses a study on the impact happiness has on learning abilities. Two groups of 4-year-olds were given learning tasks to complete, one group was asked to think of something happy whilst doing the task and the other group wasn’t. They found that the group thinking happy thoughts completed the tasks much more quickly and made fewer mistakes. What can we take from this? Firstly, happiness plays a key part when it comes to our cognitive capacity to learn and develop. And secondly, if we keep our minds more open and positive towards the idea of learning as 4-year-olds do, it may be possible to complete tasks faster, with less flaws.

Why not start by learning how to grow vegetables? Or learn a new word each day.

Cognitive Benefits: Make Sleep A Priority  

An orange and black cat is fast asleep under a white duvet, depicting the idea that sleep is beneficial and should be a priority.

You may be thinking, “How are sleep and the brain connected?” A good question which we’re about to answer.

For so many years people have been toying with the idea that the sleep we need is minimal and should be at the bottom of our priority list. Well, times have luckily changed and we’re finally seeing sleep as an essential part of our brain and body’s ability to function. The notion that we can ‘catch up on sleep’ has finally been put to bed and studies are proving that the connection between sleep and your cognitive health is paramount.

A report looking at The potential risk of cognitive decline association between insomnia disorder (not being able to sleep) and cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults found that their results suggested that, “insomnia disorder in middle-aged and older adults is associated with poorer health outcomes and worse memory performance than adults with insomnia symptoms alone or without any sleep complaints.” A lack of sleep can massively impact your brain’s performance when it comes to memory and thinking.

It’s official: sleep is vital.

Need some tips on how to get to sleep quicker? Check out our sleeping tips blog here.

Smarter Brain: Socialise With People

A group of 4 30-somethings are sat down having a picnic. There is also a small dog with them. This image portrays the power of socialising on the brain.

Dr Eugene Rubin M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and clinical investigator in the Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Dr. Rubin describes how humans are social beings with their groups of nerve cells in the brain that are, “directly influenced by social experiences.” With the mediator being the brain’s neuroplasticity; the brain’s rewiring mastermind when it comes to cognition, motivation and memory.

Social neuroscience looks at the connection between socialising and the brain and answers the question, “Is socialising good for the brain?” In essence, yes. Studies have shown how genetics and the environment are “constantly interacting and shaping the brain’s ability to adjust.” By getting yourself ‘out there’ you’re exposing yourself to new potentially stressful situations, however, your brain is able to shape itself and acclimatise to these new experiences, making future exposures less stressful and easier for your brain to cope with.

Social interaction is vital when it comes to keeping your brain as sharp as it can be. A study called Centrality of Social Interaction in Human Brain Function, describes social interaction as, “among the most complex functions humans (and their brains) perform. Yet, the interaction typically appears surprisingly easy.” The importance of this complex function is made clear by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, MD. when referencing a new report:

“We’ve got to recognize that there is yet another important lifestyle choice that can pave the way for health and disease resistance in our future and that is interacting with other people. I would suspect that this means actual face-to-face interaction as opposed to spending time each day on your computer doing social media. While Facebook is entertaining, I think what the authors have demonstrated is the importance of, for example, joining a book club, a hobby club, biking with a group of friends, traveling with others, sharing meals with friends, and various other forms of actual person-to-person interaction.”

The report he’s referring to was recently published by the Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina. Researchers found that individuals who had limited social interaction with other people were at a significantly higher risk of “inflammation, becoming overweight, and even developing high blood pressure” with a risk of high blood pressure brought on by social isolation more likely than by virtue of being a diabetic. Unbelievable!

Moral of the story? It’s time to get social! Join a club, start going to a fitness class or volunteer at your local charity. Your journey to a sharper brain starts with meeting new people, learning something new and getting a good night’s sleep.  

Sources Cited:
Association between insomnia disorder and cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults: a cross-sectional analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor.
Int J Psychophysiol. 2019 May 5. pii: S0167-8760(18)30904-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.04.011. [Epub ahead of print] Mnemonic strategy training increases neocortical activation in healthy older adults and patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Maisie Bygraves

2 thoughts on “Train Your Brain: How To Keep Your Brain Razor Sharp

  1. Nice article. Doing the things happily really gives good results. This is a thought has to be inoculate in brain cells!!!

  2. Yes! Lovely read! Thank you for sharing. I’ll definitely have to read the happiness advantage…

    I agree that I learn much better when in a good mood — but sometimes that makes my problem solving skills go down (any advice?)

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