It’s very easy to feel stupid these days.
Modern life piles lots of pressure on us and we can often forget to do the most basic of tasks, such as picking up the dry cleaning or even where we last put our keys.
Every time we act ‘stupid’ we chastise ourselves and may even wonder if we have early onset dementia.
But it’s very hard to be on top of your game if you have multiple projects on the boil and are unable to focus on one thing for a sustained period of time.
Our brains are designed to juggle only a handful of key tasks at any moment, yet many of us are juggling a lot more.
Furthermore, just because you routinely forget things doesn’t mean you’re stupid.
You see, there are a few different kinds of intelligence.
Some people are extremely creative and are great at thinking outside the box.
They’re the ones who usually come up with imaginative solutions to problems or even great works of art.
Some posses a bookish intelligence that makes them great with facts and figures, while others are emotionally clued-up and can read social dynamics and people’s hidden motivations with ease.
Most of us will possess some combination of all three, but may be dominant in one area.
And the good news is that if you feel you’re lacking in brain power, there are things you can do to improve your intelligence.
Like our muscles, the brain benefits from regular workouts to maintain optimal function.
Here are some very simple ‘brain exercises’ to help boost your intelligence:
DO THE CROSSWORD
The daily crossword is more than just a way to keep yourself entertained while waiting for the train or suffering through a long-haul flight.
According to a University of California Berkeley study, crossword puzzles may help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease because they seem to prohibit the development of too much beta-amyloid.
It’s a toxic protein that builds up in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s.
That’s why crosswords, and any other kind of brainteaser such as Sudoku, are great at keeping our minds nimble and young.
RUN ON THE TREADMILL
The benefits of exercise for our bodies is well known.
When we don’t exercise we become sluggish and lazy, and our brain is very much the same.
New research has discovered that regular exercise protects our memory and enhances our thinking skills.
A study conducted by University of British Columbia academics found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved with verbal memory and learning.
But here is the catch: balance and resistance training did not produce the same effect on the brain, meaning that for exercise to have the most positive impact on your verbal learning and memory you need to get the blood pumping and the heart rate up.
The researchers said to aim for 120 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
TAKE UP DANCING
You may have two left feet and think dancing should be strictly for the professionals.
But it’s worth keeping an open mind because the research is in and dancing is a massive brain booster.
It’s all in the steps.
Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found in a recent study that dance is a great way to improve a person’s cognitive skills.
The focus that is required in working out what step you need to perform next paves the way for new neural paths in the brain that make information transmission faster and better.
You don’t have to become an expert dancer to achieve these results.
You just need to take up a dance form that requires you to think quickly about the next move in a dance sequence.
So don’t write off that salsa or swing class just yet.
You may feel embarrassed at first, but down the track your brain will thank you.
Finally, you want to make sure you’re constantly putting your brain to the test and learning new things.
Take up an instrument or learn a new language, for example. So much is going on inside our brains when we do these things.
It’s been discovered in recent decades, for example, that practising a musical instrument may be linked to improved learning and memory.
Lecturers at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences found that young adults proficient in two languages performed better on attention tests and had better concentration than those with only one language — regardless of whether they had learned that second language when they were a child or later in life.
There’s no substitute for pushing your brain to use areas that have been dormant for a long time.
Sadly, we often neglect this most important of organs.
We think we’re born with a certain level of intelligence and we must work with what we’re given.
But this is the farthest thing from the truth.
As research is continually showing, the more we use our brains, and the more we challenge it with new experiences, the smarter we become.
Which means we’re less likely to keep losing our keys!