Monday, July 23, 2012

10 Everyday Ways to Build Your Intellectual Stamina

The path to a harder, better, faster, stronger brain doesn’t have to involve complex, involved undertakings or miracle drugs that may or may not even work. Sometimes, all you need to do is put forth the effort to improve your day-to-day habits if you hope to reap a few cognitive rewards. Intelligence, memory, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving can all receive a hefty boon with a couple of the following tweaks.

  1. Read:

    Picking up a favorite literary medium — not just standard novels! — offers some incredible cognitive benefits alongside the entertainment and educational value of the content at hand. It builds up the brain and improves intellectual flexibility and retention, even in readers hailing from professions involving considerable lead exposure. Dedicate an hour or half-hour to absorbing the written word for a nice little boost helping you absorb day-to-day (and maybe some not-so-day-to-day) information more efficiently.

  2. Sleep Late:

    Obviously controversial studies (they always are…) have noted a correlation between high IQs and “night owl” sleeping patterns. About 50% of this phenomenon stems from genetics (sorry!) but you’re not shooting for Feynman levels of sexy, sexy smarts here, so try rewiring that circadian rhythm to something a little more insomniac. Plus, rest in general acts as one of the major influences over cognition, so even if you have to stick with early bedtimes, you won’t feel left out.

  3. Exercise:

    Aerobic activities, such as running, jogging, and cycling, improve more organs than just the heart; brains also soak up the positive side effects. In addition to nursing greater mental health, studies suggest an intimate relationship between regular exercise routines and academic scores. Work with a doctor and draw up a viable plan to make your body and mind just that much happier in the long run.

  4. Puzzles:

    It depends on whom you ask, of course, but some research suggests that puzzles, riddles, and other brainteasers might very well offer a cognitive boost. Memory, an essential cog in the intellectual stamina machine, excels in the more positive-leaning tests, especially those involving patterns. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and similar problem-solving activities are thought to help build problem-solving and even creative skills.

  5. Booze:

    Before organizing a big ol’ kegger in celebration of neuroscience telling you that alcohol makes the brain better, sit down and read over the major stipulation involved. Specifically, that drinkers must practice moderation in order to reap the memory and cognition rewards. Tippling too much holds the opposite effect, so make sure you know what qualifies as “moderate” for your tolerance levels.

  6. Get Creative:

    Creativity is, in and of itself, its own form of intelligence, but it doesn’t sit suspended in a cranial vacuum. Artsy and crafty pursuits can lead to heightened performances in other fields, regardless of what medium you choose. If you’re looking to increase your mental aptitude, try picking up a new hobby involving more abstract thinking, an absolute must for anyone hoping for the most well-rounded mind possible.

  7. Eat Well:

    Foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (walnuts, oily fish, canola oil), choline (eggs), and complex carbohydrates (whole wheat breads) all enjoy a special place in a healthy diet, particularly one aiming to maintain intelligence and brain health. Avoid heavy fats and sugars, too, as both of these are not only responsible for compromised physicality, but mental functioning as well; some links have been made between poor diet and enhanced risk of depression and erratic behavior. And, of course, bulk up those meals with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which also help lower your risk of diabetes and certain cancers.

  8. Get Along:

    Cooperation makes it happen! Some newer research out there links up smarts with social skills, believing isolation leads to a heightened risk of developing depression and cognitive decline. It makes sense, as opening up to more information exposes you to more ideas and perspectives, which in turn encourages sharpened critical thinking acumen. However, the brain also needs a little bit of competition to keep itself constantly challenged, so organize some fun little games with friends and reap the mental and emotional rewards.

  9. Talk to Yourself:

    However, do keep in mind that those little daily affirmations are only known to offer a small cognitive kick rather than anything sustainable. All the same, though, some more recent experiments do show that the former sign of cracking may actually mean the exact opposite. Speaking aloud, even quietly, helps the brain better visualize the subject at hand; so the next time you find yourself hung up on a problem, try talking about it and see if things grow a little clearer.

  10. Don’t Ignore Distractions:

    Like rest, the brain loves when you decide to give yourself over to absolute distraction and give it a moment to reset itself. Science says this is totally OK. Don’t allow distractions to completely overwhelm a task, of course, but taking a bit of time to revel in them actually makes memorization and intellectual tasks much, much easier to accomplish effectively.

Taken From Online PhD Programs

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