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Great Minds Think Alike: Common Practices For Keeping Your Mind Healthy

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

“I Can Think Clearly Now”, no, wait, the song goes “I Can SEE Clearly Now”, regardless, back the thinking clearly. We all reach a point in the day where our focus is off. For some, it its first thing in the morning, for others as soon as they get home from work, and still for others is that midday lull. And, of course how many times do we hear people say that their memory isn’t what is use to be.

Yet, according to the experts, mental alertness has less to do with stress and age than with how much we use our brains (especially as we get older). In fact, many assert, that just like any other “muscles” requires exercise remain fit and healthy and to keep it’s juices flowing.

And, for building brainpower they suggest the following:

1. Work In A Timely Fashion: There seems to be quite a bit of truth to the idea that some people are morning or evening people and others are not. In fact, experts assert that we each have a specific time of day in which we function best. They even suggest that older people think more clearly in the morning while younger folk think more clearly in the afternoon. And they suggest that that you identify your peak (thinking) period and reserve that time for your most challenging work or tasks.

2. Live And Lean (In Moderation): Experts agree that there are LOTS of perks to a good education, especially up through the final year of university, but that too much of a good thing can actually detract from our ability to think and be creative. And experts remind “thinkers” that you don’t get good at something by thinking about it or studying it, but by actually “doing” it.

3. Keep Detailed Records And Notes: According to experts, the best way to keep track of and remember things is by writing it down and they note that the weakest ink lasts longer than the strongest memory.

4. Drink To Your Health And Your Memory: With new research pointing to evidence that java juice is actually beneficial to your health (or at least it’s not damaging to it) experts suggest giving yourself the boost you need with a limited amount of high-octane java jolt each day. They do caution about exceeding your limit, especially if you already a type-A personality.

5. Build On Solid Foundation: Experts suggest that instead of pushing aside old memories to make room for new ones, finding similarities between several and attaching the old to the new and building up from there.

6. Practice Makes Perfect: No matter how good you are at something, you may find yourself surprised at how much knowledge (or ability) you lose if you don’t use it (your skill that is). According to experts memory improved simply by a deliberate effort to use it, and they add that a well-practiced senior may fare better than his or her less practiced “junior”.

7. Take Risks And Chances: An active creative mind, means not only engaging it but also allowing it to take chances. From allowing yourself to expand upon your creative ideas, to challenging yourself to improve in certain arenas and even to exploring new territory, it’s all a huge part of keeping your mind (and body) motivated and toned.

8. Seek Out Challenging Relationships: Experts agree that while it essential that we get along with our friends and mates, its probably good to seek out relationships that are a bit challenging. They suggest surrounding yourself with people with the same ethical morals but who may demand more from us. They also recommend looking for challenging careers that require higher levels of cognition and note that both will offer ongoing and thought provoking stimulation.

9. Live Life A Few Experiences At A Time: People who generally can only do one thing at a time tend to be slower thinkers than others who can multitask. Try cooking and talking on the phone, all while trying to catch a glimpse of your favorite talk show or sitcom. It’s also good to look around you for inspiration, and adapt solutions from one environment to another (i.e. Velcro was “discovered” by burrs sticking to clothes).

10. Let Go Of The Mentality: “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”: Sure it becomes more difficult and challenging to embrace new concepts as we get older, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent. In fact, experts say, that we should constantly be looking to improve what we already know as well as attempting to learn something new. Mastered the computer? Try to figure out a graphics program and design your own holiday cards. Mastered cooking? Try you hand at some ethnic cuisine. You get the idea.

11. Invest In Your Memory Bank: According to experts, our inability to retain information has less to do with our memory than with how well we pay attention. If you find that there’s certain information that you just can’t remember, perhaps you just have to listen and think harder.

12. Get Some Classical Training: Experts assert that training ourselves to appreciate the rhythms of classical music (especially that of Mozart) allows our brains to process more complex information

13. Get Rid Of Your Couch and Your TV: Well, at least get rid of your excuses for NOT getting up and around. It’s unanimous that aerobic exercise can boost everything from school performance to nerve conduction velocity by bolstering oxygen and nutrients supplied to the brain; as well as increasing neurotrophins, a natural compound that promotes cell growth.

14. Get Out Of Your Rut: Routine is no doubt important in creating stability in one’s life, but experts note that trying something new is equally as important. Embarking on a new “adventure” (even if it’s just attempting a new meal) boosts successful creativity and prevents burn out common in people who get stuck in a rut and rarely expose themselves to new ideas, avenues, or knowledge.

15. Unplug: Getting away from all the negative stimuli that surround you is important, especially if they are holding you down. Rejuvenate yourself by taking a break, pampering yourself, or simply taking your work away (with you) for the weekend, for a change of scenery and environment. And, when it comes to stimulating your mind, find something that you love (or think you’ll love) and just “do it”.

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