Like muscle tissue, your brain needs a combination of exercise, nutrition, and recovery to perform at its best. The sharpest mind requires conscious effort over time to optimize mental health. Unlike a bicep curl, though, it’s challenging to measure cerebral strength. Gauge your current cognition by taking the mental performance baseline quiz on Ask the Scientists.
Once you’ve learned your cognitive baseline, it’s time to flex those thinking muscles. Create your 60-day brain-training plan using the tips below. Then retake the Ask the Scientists test to see how much you improve! Share this article with your friends and family and challenge them to beat your score. Ultimately, the real goal is to adopt long-term lifestyle habits to provide mental health benefits and so much more.
10 Tips to Sharpen Your Mind
Reach for wholesome.
Whole foods provide a variety of beneficial nutrients often stripped from processed goods. Meals made from scratch are typically more filling, full of rich flavors, less expensive, and provide much-needed fiber—often the first nutrient removed when a food is processed.
Keep these cognitive superfoods in mind on your next trip to the grocery store for healthier home cooking. Set a goal to make home-cooked meals at least four nights a week, or meal-prep on the weekends if your schedule is booked. Beyond brain benefits, your wallet—and stomach—will thank you.
Elevate your thinking.
Sometimes healthy eating gets compromised, or you may miss out on beneficial nutrients by avoiding certain foods. Vegans, for example, can utilize plant-based shakes to get their daily fill of protein. As you focus on supplementing for brain health, consider the perfect pairing of nootropics in USANA CopaPrime+™ and brain-fueling fatty acids in BiOmega™.
CopaPrime+ uses USANA InCelligence Technology® with American ginseng, coffee fruit extract, and bacopa monnieri to boost immediate mental performance and strengthen neural pathways for optimal cognitive function as you age. BiOmega contains long-chain DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids which affect cellular function along with brain and nerve activity.*
Whether methodically filling in a sudoku sheet or engaging in friendly competition over a checkerboard, games and puzzles engage your brain and flex the thinking muscle in a fun way. Playing with other people is a win-win, since having a strong social circle is a predictor of overall health and well-being.
Invite friends over for a weekly game night. It doesn’t have to be any more expensive than cheap snacks and a deck of cards for everyone to optimize mental health and enjoy each other’s company.
Sweat it out.
Physical exercise reduces stress, improves blood flow, aids in restful sleep, and provides many other whole-body benefits. Working out also protects the brain, supporting memory and thinking skills.
Make time to move every day—take the stairs or jog around the block during lunch on busy days. A good workout doesn’t necessarily mean driving to the gym—there are plenty of ways to work up a sweat at home, or you can get your heart pumping through sports, hiking, Wii Fit—whatever gets you moving.
Acquire new skills.
Learning new skills can greatly optimize mental health. Keeping your mind active and engaged in meaningful activity is your brain’s equivalent of curling a dumbbell. It increases the activity and size of brain structures responsible for learning, memory, emotion, and spatial memory. Truly, the sharpest folks around are the ones who never stop learning.
Pick up a new language with DuoLingo. Take piano lessons at a local music shop. Watch free photography tutorials on YouTube. Channel your inner Bob Ross with a beginner’s paint set—whatever you choose to learn, your brain wins.
A clear mind is a healthy mind. But life happens, and sometimes too much mental clutter or stress makes it difficult to engage in any of these tips to optimize mental health. When you experience symptoms of stress or find your mind racing away from you, channel your inner Zen.
Engage in breathing exercises, meditate, write in a mood journal, call a close friend, volunteer at a local charity, or read a good book to destress and open your mind to new growth.
Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is the foundation of good health, and it’s your brain’s chance to process the day. But good sleep hygiene can be hard to maintain. Incorporate these sleep tips and tricks for a better night’s rest.
Cheers to a Smarter Tomorrow
Even though cognition is tricky to gauge, making time for brain health habits is just as important as getting enough physical exercise and maintaining your financial and emotional well-being. Leave a comment to let us know how you did on the Ask the Scientists test and the two-month challenge. Were your initial results surprising? Did you notice improvements along the way? And which are your favorite tips to optimize mental health?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.