What if you could harness your stress as a tool for productivity, maintain laser-like focus throughout the day, and significantly improve your memory?
Would your life be any different?
I bet it would.
That’s because your cognitive abilities play a huge role in your life.
They influence your goals, productivity, social life, wellbeing, and even how much money you can make.
Luckily, your cognitive abilities are like muscles that can be strengthened and trained.
They can get incredibly strong, you just need to know how.
But before I get into the best ways to the get brain of your dreams, I need to show you exactly what cognitive abilities are.
What Are Your Cognitive Abilities?
Your cognitive abilities refer to the skills that your brain has acquired.
How easily is your mind distracted? How do you handle stress? How well do you process information? How much can you remember and how quickly?
It goes on and on.
But you won’t get these skills overnight simply by willing it. You must identify which skills you want, and commit to improving them.
Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the sexy part: unleashing your mind. Here are the top 9 tips you can use to enhance your cognitive abilities.
How to Boost Your Cognitive Abilities
Train Your Memory
By far, one of the most sought after cognitive abilities is a strong memory.
Much like physical exercise strengthens your body, memory training strengthens your mind.
But you can't just play any ordinary memory games and expect to develop incredible memory.
Instead, you should learn from the best: reigning USA Memory Champion, Nelson Dellis.
Dellis claims that in order to easily remember things, you need to...
- Turn boring pieces of information into something more creative and interesting. Make sure they form a mental image.
- Anchor these mental images to somewhere you're likely to remember them.
For example, let's say you were just introduced to four people within a short peroid of time.
To increase your chances of remembering everyon'e name, you would apply the two-step process.
The first person's name is Tim, and you quickly notice how tall he is. So you imagine Tim is a tall giraffe.
The more creative, vivid, and/or grotesque you are with the imagery, the more likely you are to remember it.
While this technique may be hard at first, you can practice it every time to need to remember something.
And that's exactly how you train your memory over time.
Learn to Meditate
Meditation gives you the ability to gain full control over your mind and how you react to the world.
So instead of reactive emotions controlling your behaviors, you can mindfully decide how you want to handle situations.
This can have a profound effect on your stress levels, your professional life, and even your goals.
One study even found that meditation can even physically change your brain and prevent it from deteriorating as you age.
To get the benefits of meditation, however, you need to meditate for at least 10 minutes every day. It’s much like exercise where you only get the benefits if you stick to it.
Don’t Skip Your Workout
There’s plenty of evidence out there that shows how important exercise is for a healthy body (1).
But what most people forget is that exercise also provides huge benefits for your brain.
In fact, numerous studies have found that exercise can…
- Protect your brain from deteriorating as you age
- Reduce the risk of dementia
- Improve your memory
- Reduce stress which negatively affects your cognitive abilities
- Stimulate growth factors that can improve the health of your brain cells (2)
- Improve your mood and make you a better thinker
The benefits are abundant, but it’s ultimately up to you if you want to take advantage of them.
Crack Open a Book
Reading is and always has been one of the best ways to increase your mental capacity.
In this digital age of Netflix, YouTube, and cable T.V., a lot of us have abandoned reading.
As a result, we are losing out on all its benefits.
Reading is an amazing brain-stimulating activity that pushes your imagination and critical thinking. It allows you to perceive the world in new ways.
To get the most benefit, I suggest that you dedicate the last 30 minutes before you go to sleep to reading.
Just be sure you don't expose yourself to blue light, as that can disrupt your sleep.
If you don’t like reading, experiment with different genres to find what you like the best. All it takes is one good book to rekindle your appreciation of reading.
Eventually, you can upgrade to books on self-improvement.
That’s when you really start to see the results!
Choose The Right Company
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”Jim Rohn, Renown motivational speaker
Picture yourself with a friend who is lazy and loves to complain about seemingly everything. Would this friend help you feel motivated to learn a new skill or go to the gym every day?
The point is, when you surround yourself with certain types of people, you are bound to pick up some of their traits or be influenced by them in some way.
This is why it’s vital to surround yourself with people who are driven, focused and want to learn and grow the way you do, it’s a brilliant form of motivation and inspiration.
Doing so will help you move your life in the direction you want it to go in. Without getting derailed by bad influences.
So, in this case, if you want to improve your cognitive abilities, surround yourself with knowledgeable, smart people.
Don’t Compromise on Sleep
With all the hustle and routine, it's easy to neglect a crucial factor of a sharp mind: sleep.
Sleeping is not just essential for rest, but also for your body to temporarily shut down, fix itself and reboot on a daily basis.
When you don’t get at least 6-7 hours of sleep, your body tends to break down quicker, your memory gets worse, and you’re much more susceptible to the effects of stress.
So, whatever the reason may be, never skimp on your beauty rest.
Keep Stress at Bay
Being completely worry and stress-free is simply not possible.
But what you can do is learn how to harness your stress as a tool for productivity. And when your stress becomes unbearable, you can learn how to wind-down and relax.
Knowing how to control your stress is essential for your cognitive abilities. Because if stress gets out of hand, studies suggest it can cause cognitive dysfunction in many people (3).
This can result in mood disorders like anxiety or depression. It can also significantly impair your ability to remember things and think clearly.
Stress can also cause physical complications and make you feel more lethargic and fatigued than usual.
So if stress is an issue for you, try some of these tips to manage your stress.
You may also want to check out this infographic that provides additional resources on how stress causes anxiety and depression.
There are a number of foods that can boost your cognitive abilities (4).
Since this is a bit of a complex topic, I'm going to summarize it as best as I can for you.
Here are some of the best foods for a healthy brain:
- Salmon: Wild-caught fish is exceptionally healthy for the brain because it contains omega-3 oil (DHA). Omega-3s which help with building brain cells faster, reducing inflammation, and also improving memory (5, 6).
- Walnuts: They are rich in a number of nutrients like copper, magnesium, and Omega-3 fats which are all essential for a happy brain.
- Kale: Kale leaves are popular because they contain a wide range of nutrients. This includes Vitamins A, C, K. Kale is also a source of iron and potassium. All of which can help keep you healthy and your mind sharp.
- Avocado: This superfood is rich in unsaturated and healthy saturated fats. Contrary to popular belief, getting healthy sources of saturated fat in your diet is essential for a healthy body. This includes your brain (7). Studes even suggest a low-fat and high carb diet can increase the risk of dementia by 89%.
- Raw Dairy or Sardines: Both are great sources of vitamin D Vitamin D is required for an optimally performing brain. So when you don't get enough, studies suggest it can significantly decrease your cognitive abilities (8). Just make sure your body doesn't have an intolerance to dairy if you choose to consume it.
- Organic Berries: many berries like blueberries and bilberries are high in an antioxidant called anthocyanin. Studies suggest that anthocyanin can improve memory performance (9).
- Green tea: some studies suggest that green tea extract can significantly improve cognitive performance (10).
The Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember is that the brain is the main engine/powerhouse of the body. Without a fully functional brain, even the body responds slowly, and your growth either slows down or your progress declines. How you take care of your mind is completely up to you, and there’s no better way than to do it naturally. Most of the time, all the mind needs is proper training.
Your brain is an incredible organ. When it’s put to the test and trained with proper guidance, it can definitely unlock a lot of potential that even you didn’t know existed!