The brain is an amazing organ that has been the focus of much research as of late. The more we learn, the more that we see that, like any muscle, the brain is a “use it or lose it” organ; it needs to be worked out. There are many little psychological tips and tricks that will help boost mental performance such as memory, focus, clarity, recall, concentration, mental wellbeing and more. Some common sense exercises, others more specialized, all seek to work off the concept of neuroplasticity.
This is the concept which postulates that, as you do something more often, neural pathways are made which increases the speed and ease with which you can do things.
What follows are five tricks that can help you to improve your mental performance.
1. Take Care of Your Body for Improved Performance
The first step to improving your mental performance is taking care of your body. This means that you feed your brain and body right. You need to get regular, moderate exercise, maintain low levels of stress and get enough sleep. These common sense things will actually improve cognitive functioning in and of themselves.
2. Exercise Your Brain
Games and crafts that work the brain are a great way to give your brain a good workout. Games that rely on strategy are excellent choices to improve cognitive functioning. Word or number games such as crossword puzzles, word searches, anagrams, sudoku, and more, have been shown to improve overall mental performance. Crafting such as weaving, sewing, scrapbooking, knitting, whittling, etc., provide a mental workout and also improves brain/body coordination.
3. Mnemonic Strategies
These are various mind and auditory tricks, such as word association, chunking and more, that help one to remember lists of information such as numbers, names, dates and more. It can also be used to help retain concepts as we associate the new information with something that we already have an existing understanding of in our minds. This connection makes the new information more accessible and thus improves the likelihood of retention.
Visualization is the process by which we imagine our going through the motions of some activity. It has been reported that many successful athletes spend much of the night before a big game imagining themselves going through the motions of a variety of situations they might find themselves in. This might seem like mindless anxiety, but this activity can actually help to improve the athletes performance on the field or court the next day. This concept works the same for other things as well. Whatever it is that you are trying to improve is a process that can be broken down into steps. By visualizing yourself going through these steps, you better prepare yourself for the actual activity.
5. Brain Based Learning Techniques
These have really caught on in recent years. These are activities that are based on the latest in our understanding of psychology and the brain. These specialized exercises are designed to work with the natural processes of the brain to help improve memory, both long-term and short-term.
By using techniques that help to improve mental performance, we will likely find that cognition is easier, no matter what our age. This is also theorized to help stymie some of the suspected causes of neural degeneration diseases. Many of these activities will also help improve your overall health and some of them seem more like games than brain exercises. These tidbits really do work and can help you to get more out of your brain, improving your memory, concentration, recall, cognition and more.
Tessa Camden is a clinical psychologist and guest author at BestPsychologyDegrees.org. You can read her latest article on psychology degrees here.