During my summer holiday break (Southern Hemisphere 😊) I was able to relax long enough to devour a couple of books that were piling in my reading backlog.
One book, Brain Hacks 200+ Ways to Boost Your Brain Power, was impressive. It shows us how small changes or activities can make a difference to our brain chemistry.
This resonated with me at a time of the year when many of us are focussed on new year resolutions. But…a common problem with these resolutions is they are often not sustainable, or we set the bar too high. We write down big, audacious goals and some of us even create vision boards to help us manifest. Then life gets in the way, be it work, kids, family, digital devices, and the overall busy-ness of day to day.
This book reminded me if we focus on smaller shifts, the changes will be easier to adopt and sustain.
Here’s my five favourite brain hacks that are easy to adopt and integrate in our 'everyday'::
1. Work your TO DO list to create mental space The TO DO list has a few benefits. One is that is helps you break down tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. In turn, this creates mental space for other activity, Every time you mark something off your list, your brain releases a shot of dopamine. The benefit of smaller talks mean more items ticked off your list = more dopamine hits! Win-win!
2. Walk and talk to leverage the combination of physical and mental activity This is because the part of the brain that relates to memory, the hippocampus, improves as your fitness levels do. A good example is learning a language while you ride or walk. It’s important to note that it’s not classified as multi-tasking as this isn’t two mental activities taking place at the same time. Another win-win!
3. Celebrate your streaks when you complete a task a few times When we accomplish something, especially when learning something new, we are rewarded with dopamine. When this occurs over again over a period of time, it’s a ‘streak’. If we keep track of our accomplishments, however small they are, we can reflect on these and stay motivated to continue. I’m thinking about how good I feel completing one level of Candy Crush. If I can pass more than one in a day, I feel even better. And when I look at the overall roadmap of the 3, 213 levels I’ve completed (at the time of writing 😊)I feel even better!
4. Eat nuts each day to boost your brain power I love this one – a healthy snack that boosts my brain power is definitely a bonus. While we know that nuts are high in fat, so eating unsalted ones in moderation is the way to go. The best four nuts for brain health are: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts.
5. Share your wisdom to further embed your own knowledge Also known as ‘teach to learn’, we know that when you teach what you know to others, you boost your brain power and continuing to learn as you invite different and new perspectives from beginners. Reflect on the quote by French moralist Joseph Joubert – ‘To teach is to learn twice’.
If you like my summary infographic on my five favourite brain hacks, feel free to download the image and keep it close. Enjoy brain hacking!