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But I never really thought about things I could do to sharpen my memory or hone the connections between reason and emotion. I’m young. My brain is young. I think a lot. I’m even doing it right now. Maybe if I try to exercise my brain too much, I’ll pull a mental muscle or something?
But if the alternative is my brain going to mush inside my skull, some cranial fatigue is worth the risk.
So here’s my list of ten ways to do ol’ Brain Train:
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2. Be contradicted. There’s nothing more stimulating than a healthy debate. It gives you an excuse to practice expressing your opinion and exposes you to new ideas. I’m lucky on this one. My partner never lets me get away with any statement without citing my sources.
3. Eat tumeric. This common spice is used in pretty much every Indian, and most Thai, dishes. It’s a staple in my kitchen. Similar to ginger root, it contains curcumin, which may reduce the risk of dementia. One down side — it stains, so be tidy.
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5. Hydrate. I remember commercials from high school prompting eight glasses a day. It always seemed like a lot. But dehydration forces the brain to work harder and may prohibit planning abilities. Plus, you’ll be less likely to develop kidney stones. And I hear those are no fun.
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7. Zone out. Take your brain off the leash and let it wander about. One professor I had in college gave the class permission to stop listening to her if we started to feel sleepy. The break, she said, made us more focused when we came back. And studies have shown that zoning out allows the brain to work on the ‘big picture’.
8. Delay gratification. It encourages focus, and when exercised at the dinner table, makes that dessert take so much better. This is something I was much better at as a kid. Once I figured out the whole time-management thing, I realized that deadlines are good motivators, too.
9. Master the Pomodoro Technique. This has nothing to do with pasta, but is a great tool for time-management. You stay focused and work in 25-minute blocks, taking a short break after each. The frequent rests aid mental agility, and you know you want to take it anyway.
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