Every single day, we go through routines and habits, some of which we might not even think about.
We brush our teeth, tie our shoes, have our breakfast, and do a bunch of things without much thought.
But what if I told you that there are simple, everyday things you can do that can actually make you smarter? It sounds exciting, right?
And the best part is, you don’t need to be a genius or invest tons of time to incorporate these habits into your life. They’re basic and easy to adopt.
In this article we’ll discuss 15 of these habits. Some might be new to you, while others might be things you’re already doing without realizing their benefits.
1. Getting Enough Sleep
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. Sleep isn’t just about recharging the body; it’s crucial for mental well-being too. Here’s how:
During the deepest phases of sleep, the brain gets busy processing information from the day, forming memories, and making connections.
Skimping on sleep has its consequences. Beyond just feeling groggy the next day, a consistent lack of rest can impede cognitive functions.
This includes attention, problem-solving, and decision-making. Not having enough sleep and trying to get on with your day by morning as though the brain is wading through fog, trying to make sense of things.
On the flip side, a rested mind is a sharper mind. You’re more alert, more focused, and better at handling tasks that require reasoning and logic.
So, for the sake of that wonderful brain, make sure to catch those Zs. Your intellect will thank you.
2. Physical Exercise
Who said only mental exercises boost brain power? Physical activity, whether it’s a morning jog, yoga, or a gym session, has profound benefits for the mind.
According to studies, moving your body increases blood flow, which means more oxygen is reaching that all-important organ, the brain.
Regular physical exercise has been linked to better cognitive function. This means improved memory, sharper attention, and faster processing times.
So, while you’re toning those muscles or building endurance, you’re also nurturing a healthier, more efficient brain.
What’s more, physical activity releases endorphins. These are the body’s natural mood lifters. They reduce stress and anxiety, allowing the brain to function at its best.
A clear, relaxed mind is undeniably better equipped for learning and creativity, no argument there.
3. Eating The Right Foods
You are what you eat. This saying holds especially true for the brain.
In fact, studies show that there are certain foods linked to better brain power. Here’s why:
Consuming a balanced diet with foods rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins, and minerals provide energy for the brain and protect it from oxidative stress – Foods like berries, fish, and nuts.
Incorporating these foods doesn’t just fuel the brain; it also protects it. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon, aid in building and repairing brain cells.
Foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins, like fruits and vegetables, combat oxidative stress, which can damage brain cells.
But it’s not just about adding the good stuff. Reducing intake of refined sugars and processed foods can significantly benefit brain health.
These foods might give a quick energy spike but, in the long run, can lead to cognitive impairments and reduce brain functions.
[Also read: 6 Signs You’re Smarter Than You Think]
4. Limiting Digital Distractions
In today’s age, our phones are almost an extension of our hands. Notifications ping every minute, urging us to check out the latest on social media or respond to that email.
But too much screen time can harm our cognitive abilities. Every distraction breaks our flow, making the brain work harder to regain concentration.
Consider designating periods during your day as ‘unplugged’ moments. This could mean no phones, no emails, just pure focus on a single task.
Doing this not only boosts productivity but also trains the mind to concentrate better. Remember, the brain, like any muscle, gets stronger with regular exercise.
And there’s another side to this. Allowing ourselves to be bored, to daydream without the constant stimulation of digital content, can enhance creativity. This downtime lets the brain wander, make connections, and come up with fresh ideas.
5. Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, is like a spa treatment for the brain.
By focusing on the present moment, on your breath, sensations, and thoughts, you’re training the mind to be present, to be aware.
This heightened awareness can significantly improve cognitive functions.
Furthermore, regular meditation reduces stress. Less stress means better mental clarity. When the fog of anxiety and overthinking lifts, it’s easier to see things more clearly, to make decisions, and to learn. The mind becomes more receptive and agile, capable of quicker, sharper thoughts.
[Related: 5 Signs You Have High Emotional Intelligence]
6. Learning a New Skill
Learning is an endless journey. Picking up a new skill, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, a new language, or even juggling, stimulates the brain in unique ways.
The process of learning keeps the brain active, engaged, and challenged.
Engaging with something unfamiliar, grappling with its complexities, and finally mastering it, offers an unparalleled sense of achievement.
Every step in this journey enhances neural plasticity, helping the brain to adapt and evolve. This constant evolution ensures that the brain remains agile and sharp.
But there’s also joy in the process. The very act of learning, the challenges, the eureka moments, and even the struggles, bring a kind of pleasure that’s deeply fulfilling. This joy not only makes you smarter.
7. Spending Time in Nature
There’s something calming about being surrounded by trees, listening to a river’s gentle flow or simply breathing in fresh air.
Nature has a unique way of rejuvenating not just the soul but the mind as well. Stepping outside, away from noise and distractions, can offer a fresh perspective and clarity of thought.
The change of scene, away from screens and urban chaos, allows the mind to unwind.
And with relaxation comes improved concentration and creativity. The mind feels freer, more open to new ideas and perspectives.
8. Maintaining The Right Social Connections
Human beings are social creatures. Engaging in meaningful conversations, laughing with friends, or simply being in the company of loved ones stimulates the brain.
These interactions play a major role in keeping the mind agile and emotionally balanced.
Regular social interactions challenge the mind. Conversations make you think, formulate responses, and engage in active listening.
These seemingly simple acts keep the brain active and alert. Plus, diverse interactions introduce you to various perspectives, which enhances critical thinking.
Beyond cognitive stimulation, social connections provide emotional support. This is because sharing experiences, joys, or concerns fosters a sense of belonging and reduces feelings of stress or isolation.
And a happy, contented mind, surrounded by a supportive social network, undoubtedly functions better.
9. Journaling Your Thoughts
Writing isn’t just for authors or poets. Penning down your thoughts, experiences, or reflections in a journal can be incredibly beneficial for the brain.
This simple act of translating thoughts into words gives your mind clarity, organizes chaotic emotions, and improves your self-awareness.
Furthermore, journaling requires introspection. Reflecting on the day, understanding emotions, and expressing them in words, strengthens cognitive processing.
The act of writing engages the analytical and logical parts of the brain, refining our thought processes over time.
10. Staying Curious
Remember the childlike wonder with which you looked at the world? That insatiable curiosity is a powerful tool for the brain.
Asking questions, seeking answers, and always wanting to learn more keeps the brain active and engaged.
Curiosity leads to exploration. Every new piece of information, every new experience adds to the knowledge bank.
This continuous learning ensures the brain is always active, always growing. Not to mention, seeking out new information or experiences can lead to the discovery of new passions or hobbies.
Curiosity isn’t just about gathering knowledge. It’s a mindset, an attitude towards life. Approaching challenges with a curious mind often leads to innovative solutions.
Embracing the unknown, being open to experiences, and simply wanting to know more can significantly enhance cognitive functions and adaptability.
Beyond the joy and knowledge books provide, reading is a powerful tool to enhance brain function.
It’s not just about absorbing information; the act of reading involves multiple cognitive processes that stimulate the mind.
For starters, regular reading challenges the brain. Decoding words, understanding contexts, and drawing connections require mental agility.
Every time you dive into a new story or concept, you’re training your brain to think, deduce, and imagine. Over time, this consistent cognitive exercise can improve both comprehension and analytical thinking.
Plus, different genres cater to different brain functions.
Fiction, for instance, can enhance empathy, imagination, and creativity. Non-fiction, on the other hand, builds knowledge and critical thinking.
Poetry, with its nuances and layers, enriches linguistic skills and emotional understanding.
So, whether it’s a classic novel, a scientific journal, or a haiku, reading consistently fuels the mind, making it sharper and more expansive.
12. Share What You Know
Sharing knowledge isn’t just a noble act; it’s also good for the brain. Why?
When you teach or relay information to others, you’re not merely passing on your wisdom but also reinforcing your understanding and enhancing cognitive depth.
Think about the times you’ve explained a concept to someone. The process requires you to organize your thoughts, sequence the information logically, and present it in a way that’s comprehensible.
This mental structuring helps solidify your grasp of the subject. Every time you share, you review and reevaluate what you know, inadvertently strengthening your recall and comprehension.
In a nutshell, sharing knowledge creates a continuous loop of learning. The satisfaction derived from helping someone understand is immeasurable.
The gratitude and curiosity of the learner can, in turn, motivate you to keep learning, ensuring that the cycle of knowledge and growth perpetuates. It’s a win-win for the brain and the heart.
13. Listening to Music
Music has a profound effect on our minds and moods. But did you know it can also enhance intelligence?
Engaging with music, be it listening, playing, or even dancing, stimulates the brain in varied ways, from memory to motor skills.
Different genres of music evoke different reactions. Classical music, for instance, is known to improve concentration and memory. On the other hand, upbeat music can improve mood and energy levels.
Regardless of the genre, music engages multiple areas of the brain, making it a wholesome activity for cognitive enhancement.
Beyond passive listening, learning a musical instrument can be incredibly beneficial. The process requires coordination, rhythm, and understanding of notes, all of which give the brain a comprehensive workout.
14. Reducing Sugar Intake
It’s no secret that diet plays a crucial role in cognitive functions.
But because our brains need glucose to function, there’s usually confusion as to how our sugar intake affects our cognitive ability.
So here it is: Studies have linked excess glucose consumption to memory and cognitive deficiencies
Sugar, especially in excessive amounts, can have adverse effects on the brain. High sugar intake has been linked to foggy thinking, memory problems, and even reduced brain volume in certain areas linked to cognitive skills.
When you have excessive sugar intake, you get sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar that can lead to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
The solution? Cut down on sugar. Doing this means you get more stable energy levels. And by maintaining steady energy levels, the brain functions optimally, ensuring clarity and focus.
15. Hydrating Regularly
A significant portion of our brain is water, and even slight dehydration can impact its function.
Cognitive abilities like focus, alertness, and short-term memory can be compromised if we’re not drinking enough water. Why?
Well, partly because water aids in the transportation of nutrients, removal of waste, and maintenance of brain structure and function. Simply put, for the brain to work at its best, it needs to be well-hydrated.
We often underestimate the importance of drinking water throughout the day. While the exact amount might vary based on individual needs, ensuring consistent hydration can boost cognitive functions, improve mood, and even aid in creative thinking.
Wrapping It Up
You don’t need fancy tools or expensive classes to get a little smarter each day.
Just by adding some of these habits to your daily routine, you can give your brain a nice boost. Remember, it’s the small steps we take every day that add up over time.
As James Clear explained in Atomic Habits, If you want to know where you’ll be tomorrow, check your current habits.
- All photos from freepik.com