Improving your cognitive skills can make you more successful and happy. It can even improve your relationships and reduce your risk of some form of dementia. Read on to learn how you can improve cognitive functions and put your brain’s potential to better use.

Our cognitive abilities are not fixed. While part of our intelligence depends on our genes, much of it can be improved through good medical care and continuous learning. There are several simple but effective ways to improve your cognitive skills.

7 ways to improve cognitive functions

Many of these ideas are simple and have a reason for being. It is quite obvious that our brains, like the rest of our bodies, will function better and perform optimally when we take proper care of them. Good nutrition, sleep, and exercise are essential for brain function. There are also many things that are detrimental to the functioning of the brain, such as alcohol, drugs, sugar, stress, depression, and stimulants.

1. Feed your brain

Our brain depends on what we eat to get all the nutrients it needs to function. We may think that the idea of ​​fish as “brain food” is an old women’s tale, but there is some truth to it. Fish is a low-fat source of protein, and protein is something our brains need to function at its best.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet with only occasional sweets is the best way to ensure your brain performs at its best.

2. Get some sleep

Even the experts are not clear about exactly why we need sleep, although they know that it has to do with cognition, repair functions and memory. Sleep also  allows the brain to eliminate toxins .

In general, sleep is vital and we cannot live without it. Without getting enough sleep, our cognitive function begins to decline dramatically. So make sure you get enough sleep and seek help if you have insomnia or struggle to get enough rest.

3. Take a walk

Exercise is great for brain health and function. It can  improve memory , mood, and cognitive function. By getting the blood flowing to the brain, exercise keeps you healthy. Exercise is also believed to reduce inflammation in the brain and stimulate the release of growth factors.

Exercise appears to be particularly important in reducing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. A recent study found that fitter people had higher brain tissue density compared to less fit people. Also, being in nature can reduce stress, so do your exercise in nature if you can.

4. Do a hobby

Hobbies can help our brains function in a number of ways. First of all, they can be very relaxing, as we often become totally absorbed in them. This helps reduce stress . Second, they often involve learning.

Whatever activity you are going to do, you will have to learn new skills and this will develop your cognitive abilities . As you learn new things, you will encourage your brain to make new connections and this will compensate for the loss of cells due to aging .

5. Play games and do puzzles

Puzzles and games keep our brains active and help make new connections. Spending time doing crossword puzzles or playing games can also reduce cognitive decline.

The most important thing is to do a variety of puzzles and play different games. This is because once your brain gets good at something, you don’t have to work as hard. Keep challenging your brain to make sure it continues to function and develop.

The social aspect of games can also help keep our brains active and is an important factor in reducing  age-related cognitive decline . Social interactions use a great deal of brain power, but they can also be enjoyable and relaxing, which is good for the brain, too.

6. Learn something new

Learning something new keeps your brain active and encourages it to make new connections. You should aim for something that is difficult, but achievable, as this will put your brain through just the right amount of effort. As soon as you feel comfortable with a certain level of activity, it’s time to take on a new challenge.

Learning a language can be a good place to start, as it is useful and fun, as well as hard work. If that’s not for you, pick any area of ​​study that inspires you and get a book or sign up for a course.

7. Reduce stress

Studies have shown that people with high levels of stress are likely to have more cognitive problems than those who are more relaxed. While stress is a part of modern life that we cannot avoid, we can take steps to find balance in our lives and recover from stressful situations.

What reduces stress is highly subjective, so you may need to try a few practices before you find the one that works best for you. You could start with meditation, yoga or relaxation, hiking, or morning walks, as these have been found to reduce stress.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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