The brain is our most complex organ and, just like any other part of the body, it needs to be cared for. Just as athletes strength train and condition their bodies by repeatedly exercising specific muscle groups and their cardiovascular systems, targeted repetition of memory exercises could be the key to strengthening and conditioning our memory processes.
Our brains are always active (even during sleep), however, studies are finding certain activities can actually engage our brains in new ways, which could potentially lead to improvements in memory, cognitive function, and/or creativity.
“Eventually, your cognitive skills will wane and thinking and memory will be more challenging, so you need to build up your reserve,” says Dr. John N. Morris, director of social and health policy research at the Harvard-affiliated Institute for Aging Research. “Embracing a new activity that also forces you to think and learn and requires ongoing practice can be one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy.”
While chronic and debilitating anxiety and focus issues are best dealt with by a professional, there are brain exercises we can add to our routine that condition the brain to relax, focus, and reboot. Here are a list of activities that help boost brain function:
Given the endless, abundant research suggesting daily meditation as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression and insomnia, it feels safe to say the scientific case for meditation is closed. However, studies from 2007 suggest that mindfulness meditation can also help engage new neural pathways, resulting in improved self-observational skills and increased mental flexibility. They also show that meditation can help improve attention, focus, empathy, and even immunity. Some studies also suggest that meditation might even increase the capacity of working memory.
Mindfulness meditation can be as easy as paying attention to your breath — feeling, and focusing on, the physical sensations of breathing. For example, take a deep breath and focus on your belly rising upon your inhalation and shrinking on your exhalation, or notice the feeling of air traveling through your mouth and/or nostrils as you take slow, even breaths.
It is important to remember that meditation, like any exercise, is difficult when you first start, and becomes easier as you practice. When thoughts inevitably arise, gently refocus your awareness on the breath.
Exercise your body = Exercise your mind
The more we learn about mental health, the more we discover that the mind and body are intricately connected. When the mind is in poor health, the body soon follows.
As the mind affects the body, so too does the body affect the mind. In other words, we can relax our brains and entire nervous system by creating physical relaxation.
Exercise creates this physical relaxation in many ways. First, exercise releases endorphins, which are natural pain-killers with a euphoric effect. Exercise also increases circulation, and engenders good cardiovascular health. This entails lower blood pressure, a lower resting heart rate, and well-oxygenated tissue that allows your body to work better in general.
Research shows that consistent, low-intensity exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, which alleviates depression. Research also suggests that these benefits may be long-lasting. Studies even suggest that exercise can make you smarter and protect your brain from shrinkage as it ages.
Discover a hidden talent
Learning a new skill activates multiple areas of the brain. Your memory is put to the test, you grasp new movements and you learn to associate things differently. The possibilities — and benefits — are substantial. For example, a 2019 review found that learning a new language and practicing bilingualism increases and strengthens connectivity between different areas of the brain. The researchers propose that this enhanced connectivity may play a role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Another option is learning a new instrument, which exercises parts of the brain that are responsible for coordination. According to a 2014 study, playing an instrument may benefit cognitive development in a young brain and help protect against cognitive impairment in an aging brain.
Adequate socialization has a variety of cognitive and emotional benefits; and therefore, physical health benefits. Those that are socially active are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that socialization also boosts verbal memory, reasoning, and focus.
Spending time with friends can often be emotionally reinforcing, as friends offer us reassurance, confidence, and perspective that we can sometimes lack on our own. Long-term relationships may also reinforce positive health decision-making. For example, others often regulate our destructive impulses. Social ties also instill a sense of compassion and empathy, which leads us to make better health decisions for ourselves and for others.
High levels of social activity are found to correlate with self-esteem development and stability. Those with high levels of self-esteem are inclined to value their own health, and to take care of themselves.
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Our premier product, BrainTap™, is an app that uses Brainwave entrainment to achieve mind states that are conducive to whatever your current situation demands. Typically, our brains output five distinct kinds of brainwaves: gamma, beta, alpha, delta, and theta. A fuller description of what these brainwaves are and the mind states with which they are associated can be found here.
Brainwave entrainment involves synchronizing your brainwaves with sonic and visual output to achieve healthier and more effective mind states. BrainTap™ offers premier brain entrainment via five modalities: Binaural Beats, Guided Visualizations, Holographic Music, Isochronic Tones, and Light Stimulation of Retinal and Ear Meridians.
Binaural beats create a perceived frequency brainwave from the dissonance between two waves of slightly different frequencies. When the brain perceives this new frequency, it naturally synchronizes with it, allowing one to enter a state of healing relaxation, creativity, sleep, or calm focus.
BrainTap™’s algorithm also uses isochronic tones (tones that sound on and off at calculated intervals) to synchronize your brainwaves to more desirable and effective mental states.
BrainTap™ sessions also use spoken-word guided visualizations that improve mental states, and have been shown to improve physical and athletic performance and heal the body. BrainTap™ also uses holographic music that mimics three-dimensional space to make guided visualizations more realistic and vivid.
Additionally, BrainTap™’s BlueTooth Headset gently delivers pulses of light that travel through the retina and ear meridians, facilitating the transition into mind states of peak performance and deep, healing relaxation.
The experts at Brain Health Sciences have curated distinct lists of BrainTap™ sessions with specific goals like enhancing mental clarity in mind. For example, 11 unique sessions have been selected as a Jumpstart Your Morning playlist. Or, a Stress Less playlist with 19 relaxing sessions engineered precisely to engender calm and peace. Make the shift towards a healthier brain today.