Before we discuss these 5 ways to boost your cognitive abilities, it’s worth talking about what cognitive ability is.
What is cognitive ability, anyway?
The definition in the International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences (2015) of cognitive ability is roughly as follows:
“A general mental ability that includes reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, understanding complex ideas, and learning from experience.”
So, what exactly is it? Basically, it’s our ability to perform everyday tasks. Cognitive skills are how we function in an increasingly complex world. From digging holes to writing books, from cooking to taking the kids to soccer practice, cognitive skills are what make us function.
If you want to perform at a higher level, you need to increase your capacity to do so. To do that, we need to train ourselves mentally the same way we would train ourselves physically. To do that, we need to keep in mind a few different things that will help us to improve our cognitive abilities.
What can I do for myself ?
You can increase your cognitive abilities by taking part in a great range of mental activities. These activities range from brain training games to being open to new experiences. But there are five activities that will boost your cognitive skills and also help you in other areas of your life. These are sleep, exercise, chronic stress reduction, creativity, and mindfulness.
1 Get Enough Sleep
One of the most important thing you can do is get enough sleep. Research varies on the right amount of sleep per person, and personal circumstances and environment also determine that.
The idea is to get enough sleep so that you feel fully rested when you wake up. A general guideline is 7 to 9 hours of sleep for most adults, with teens needing between 9 and 12 hours each night.
2 Get Enough Exercise
Research suggests that a molecule called irisin is released when we exercise. This molecule has been shown to not only have neuroprotective effects but also to support memory and learning.
There are lots of different exercise activities you can take part in and you need to find one that suits you best:
3 Reduce any Chronic Stress in Your Life
Chronic stress is a significant problem in our society. We try to pack as much as we can into a single day and then cry out in frustration when we can’t get anything done. Chronic stress is a constant state in which we are exposed to stimuli from outside.
Over time, and if we donot allow ourselves to stop and take care of ourselves, chronic stress can reduce our cognitive abilities. When our ability to think clearly is gone and we are unable to focus on the task at hand, we are unable to do anything meaningful. There are numerous ways to reduce stress, and a few examples would be,
- Being creative
4 Be Creative in Your Daily Life
According to a 2013 study, “Neuroscientists have discovered several ways that musical practice improves the function and connectivity of different brain regions and increases cognitive function. Practicing a musical instrument increases brain volume and strengthens communication between brain regions.”
Creativity is more than just playing a musical instrument. It’s about creating something out of nothing. If you are not a creative person, don’t worry, just the process of doing it will help you, even if the end result isn’t great!
So if you have always dreamed of painting, get out the brushes and canvases and start painting. Not only will you be able to fulfill that dream, but you will also be able to increase your cognitive abilities.
5 Practice Mindfulness Meditation
In a 2013 study, researchers at a Medical Center at Harvard found that the brain changes when we meditate. The subsequent stress reduction associated with the meditative practice may play an important role in slowing down the progression of age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
Mindfulness meditation is nothing more than taking a few minutes to focus and be present in the moment. It doesn’t require extensive training, and a quick Google search will help you understand the most basic techniques.
You can deliberately spend time being mindful by listening to these mindful audios. I own these audios and love them!
5 Ways to Boost Your Cognitive Skills Summary
Cognitive skills are our way of operating in the world. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t be very functional human beings. A few simple activities carried out on a day to day basis can help you achieve the goals you’ve always wanted to accomplish.
Don’t wait for tomorrow. Today is the perfect time to start. Take the effort to do these 5 activities to boost your cognitive abilities and you won’t regret it.
Ihope you enjoyed my “5 activities to boost your cognitive abilities.” If you did, please consider leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you.