Can brain power be increased? Ask any Ph.D. student, and they’ll give us a thumbs up and a wink. It could be argued that there is no upper limit to brain power. But does brain power burn calories? Yes, brain power burns up to 20% of our daily energy. And at the Ph.D. level, who knows what calorie burn we gain from that level of thought?
So, as students, we need all the brain power we can get. I need all the brain power and energy possible as my schedule is non-stop activity. Just one nap in the daytime means I have twenty minutes less time to spend on a course, exercise, cleaning, or work. And that intense desire for extra brain power and double doses of energy might apply to all of us.
So, with that said, here are questions to help us find ways to increase our brain power:
What foods are best for brain power? Walnuts, salmon, avocadoes, blueberries, flaxseed, and dark chocolate are believed to be great ways to boost brain power. And for a tastier experience than flaxseeds, try hemp seeds. Delicious! I eat salmon, berries, and hemp seeds every day. I drank coffee for a while, which is supposedly great for brain power, but I would crash hard several times daily, and it made me less gentle, so I switched back to matcha tea. I want to add 100% dark chocolate and walnuts to my diet for brain health. The only problem is that I eat the whole bag. If we enjoy any foods in the above list, perhaps it’s time to stock at least one.
Some vitamins are good for brain health as well. B-Complex, Vitamin D, Omega 3s, Vitamin C, and L-Theanine are all supposedly great for brain health. Recently, I bought all kinds of supplements, such as L-Carnitine, Cordyceps, Ashwagandha, Milk Thistle, B-Complex, greens powder, and Vitamin D. My body couldn’t tolerate them. I would feel dizzy and experience other brain-related side effects. So, now I take greens powder, Vitamin D, and the occasional B-complex. I first sniff the vitamin B-complex bottle. If the scent is gentle and not overwhelming, I know it’s time to take half a tablet. I also drink a lot of matcha tea, which is high in L-Theanine. I’m not prepared to invest in any more than the vitamins I currently take. Instead, I’ll get as many vitamins as possible through my diet.
Exercise can also effect brain power. Exercise is said to enhance memory, mood, and mitigate anxiety disorders. Aerobic exercise is often recommended for enhancing brain health. Aerobic exercise includes running, sprinting, swimming, cycling, dancing, step class—anything that raises the heart rate and taxes the lungs. But other exercise may also be beneficial for the brain, including weightlifting, yoga, and Pilates. I weightlift and do martial arts most days and swim on weekends. I’ve started sprinting on the weekends, too. So, what exercises from the above list might we consider adding to our daily routine? Pick at least one to add if extra brain power is the goal. I want to add backward running. Running backward is considerably more taxing than forward running and is likely to enhance cognitive ability. That means it’s great for the brain. And if we ever play basketball, soccer, or football, we’ll need this skill. So, I plan to add backward running at a recreation facility during the fall and winter and in the parks during the spring and summer.
Can meditation increase brain power? Meditation is thought to improve memory, learning, and focus, not to mention other benefits. Meditation may be the most beneficial thing we can do for our brains for free during a ten-minute increment throughout the day. I used to do single-nostril breathing and the Wim Hoff breathing methods. Now, I sometimes do exculpatory breathing, inhaling twice and then exhaling—like when we cry. It’s amazing. And if we want to increase our energy throughout the day, we can inhale longer than we exhale; if we want to relax, we can exhale longer than we inhale. And there are other techniques, like inhaling for four seconds, holding for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, and holding for four seconds. It’s called box breathing. So, what breathing technique might we add to our day to improve our memory, focus, and learning? This is one area I can truly improve. I stopped meditating almost entirely because it exhausted me when I was ill with chronic fatigue. But I rarely get chronic fatigue anymore. So, it’s time to amp up the meditation for extra brain power.
What about solving puzzles, learning languages, or playing musical instruments? Do they help us develop brain power? All of these activities are said to benefit the brain. And our learning at AU boosts our brain power, too. I’m not a puzzle girl but I love learning advanced critical thinking and problem-solving models. Oh, I can’t get enough of that. So, what learning or puzzle-solving strategies might we add to increase our brain power? For myself, I will use the Canada Job Grant to get ongoing professional certifications. It’ll mean I’ll need to find ways to improve my energy, reduce break time, and get more efficient to fit it all in. That in itself is a puzzle.
So, that’s how to increase brain power for study purposes. The good news is that it’s all fun! Learning, exercising, meditating, eating healthy, taking vitamins—it’s all a blast when we find our sweet spot. So, pick one item from each list to try out—or try out one thing in total. Whatever we choose is beneficial. And if a Ph.D. program is on our agenda, double down for the time of our lives!