Many students don’t find college years easy at all. They have too many essays to write, too many courses to study, and too many things to remember. While all of the above is very important for everyone’s education, this might seem challenging at times.
However, it doesn’t have to be. We might have one brain capacity when we enter college – but this doesn’t mean we aren’t able to improve it greatly during college years.
Various researches prove that human brain doesn’t exist in one condition. It can adapt to new circumstances, change, and grow. Such ability is called neuroplasticity and basically means that you can boost your memory, improve your ability to focus, train yourself to learn new things much quicker and keep your brain functions sharp at any age.
So if we have this amazing opportunity, why not start making the most out of it when you’re still in college? Sure, your brain might be really active right now – but you can make it even more active. Moreover, increasing its functions will help you get good grades, recommendation, and even land your dream job.
Want to give it a try? Here are some useful tips on how to increase your brain functions and sharpen your memory.
1. Choose single-tasking instead of multitasking.
We live in the world where multitasking seems like a virtue. However, it’s not. Sure, you might be capable of doing a couple of things at a time but the researches show that doing so actually does you more harm than good.
When you multitask, you sadly achieve worse results than you would if you were focusing on one task at a time. Moreover, multitasking eventually leads to your concentration worsening. The more you multitask, the harder it might be for you to focus on a single thing in the future.
That’s why if you feel that your ability to focus has lowered or that you simply want to concentrate better, try switching to single tasking. It might be hard at first but it will lead to you finishing your tasks quicker and performing better at the same time.
2. Use music to help you.
Knowing that you need to learn how to concentrate better is one thing – actually learning how to do so is another. If you feel like you might need some extra help for better concentration, try listening to music while studying or focusing on other tasks.
Of course, the trick here is to use the right music. You probably already noticed that certain music calms you down, certain makes you feeling more pumped up and ready for a workout, for example, and so on.
There’s also music that aids concentration and helps you focus more easily. Usually, it’s classical or instrumental one. But even if you don’t listen to that kind of music much and so don’t know which one to pick, that’s not the problem. There are plenty of ready-made playlists created by other students for better concentration and studying. Choose the one you like the most and give it a try.
Sure, there’s no music that fits literally anyone. Maybe you’re the person who isn’t distracted by music that has lyrics and find it easier to write your essay while listening to some fast and rhythmical songs. Everything is fine as long as it helps you-you just have to find the music that is right especially for you.
3. Make your brain work more.
As you are a college student, your brain probably has a lot of things to process. However, most likely these things are something you (and your brain) are already used to.
When you stick to paths and habits that are more or less familiar, things do seem easier. However, sticking to those paths also means that your brain doesn’t work as effectively as it could.
Why so? Because it’s similar to workouts in many ways. If you want to build muscles, you need to load them with new exercises and make them work like they never did before. If you want to improve your brain functions, you need to do the same, only choosing mental exercises instead of physical ones.
Here’s what activities are good for your brain:
- ones that teach you something new or require you to memorize new things;
- ones that can be improved with time;
- ones that are challenging;
- ones that feel rewarding.
However, while these things are called exercises they don’t have to feel like ones. Building every new skill and trying every new activity considers as such exercise. So if you want to learn how to cook, to draw, to play the guitar, to dance, to master a new language, definitely give it a try. It will help your brain to function even better, after all.
4. Pay attention to your lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle becomes more and more popular these days – probably because it gives people something more than a fit body. It might seem surprising how much our lives can change if we discard some bad habits and try building healthy ones instead – yet it’s a rule that never fails.
Here’s what you can do to boost your health and brain functions at the same time:
i) Be more active.
It doesn’t mean that you have to work out every day – even a daily walk is good for your health. It is good for your brain as well: studies show that people who weren’t active much during their lives, start suffering from memory losses earlier.
ii) Add the right food to your daily diet.
A healthy diet that includes many vegetables, fruits, protein, whole grains and so-called healthy fats doesn’t simply make you slimmer and supplies your body with important nutrients – it also helps you improve your memory.
Moreover, if you consider adding a number of vitamins and nutrients (omega-3, green tea, walnuts, broccoli, spinach, etc.) to your diet, you’ll be able to boost your brain power too.
iii) Drink more water.
Water is what keeps both our body and brain hydrated, allowing them to function properly. When your brain receives enough hydration, it finds it easier to focus and memorize things.
What’s even better is that even if you weren’t used to drinking more water, you can build this habit quick enough. And once you build it, you’ll be able to easily make up for all those years of dehydration.
iv) Get enough sleep.
Many people underestimate the importance of sleep in their lives and the amount of sleep they need daily to function properly. In reality, more than 95 percent of adults need to rest pretty much each night – from 7.5 to 9 hours, if they want to be focused and productive.
Of course, a college life doesn’t always give you the opportunity to sleep enough. But even if you did suffer from sleep deprivation the previous week, make sure to compensate for that during the weekend and establish a healthier sleeping routine. Even going to bed and getting up at one time each day can increase the quality of your sleep (and therefore the brain functions) a lot.
5. Learn how to meditate.
Meditation might look like a technique that helps to decrease stress levels only, but it’s not. In reality, meditation teaches you how to be more mindful, how to be present in the moment, and how to focus on certain things (for example, on breathing) while shutting away all the distractions at the same time.
Mastering meditation is without a doubt not easy. However, doing so also helps you improve your focus, memory, creativity, and the ability to learn.
Researches show that meditation indeed affects the actual brain, increasing the activity in the left prefrontal cortex – an area, which is commonly associated with joy. It also increases connections between brain cells, therefore improving both memory and mental sharpness.
Of course, mastering meditation might be a real challenge, especially when you live on campus. If you’ve never tried meditating before, start with short sessions (10 minutes, for example). You can also use a program like Headspace that will guide you through the process easily.
6. Don’t forget to socialize.
Improving your memory and brain function doesn’t have to be a very serious and responsible process – you can actually enjoy it a lot. Moreover, each time when you meet your friends or at least talk to them via phone or Skype, you’re doing brain exercises too.
How exactly does it work? First of all, when you discuss things with friends, you practice expressing your point of view and defending it with arguments when needed. Sure, you might do so even when writing a cause and effect essay for one of your professors, but still, it’s a bit different. Verbalizing your arguments is not the same as putting them on paper – different features are responsible for that. And it’s very important for you to practice both of them.
Second, spending time with your friends means having a good time in the first place. You relax, relieve your stress, improve your emotional health and brain health as well. Therefore, it’s important to try and spend more time with your friend – or at least consider finding a pet that will keep you company.
7. Organize things around you.
We’re not talking about your room only here, though it is also important. Your brain finds it easier to remember things when they do have a certain order. For example, if you build a habit of storing your shoes or books in one place, you won’t need to spend time looking for them. If you try organizing the data you need to remember and actually learn, the whole process will become easier too.
There are various ways to do so. For example, you can try taking notes while doing your research or reading some of the data sources. You can also try writing down the quotes or other things that need to be listed exactly how they look like. You can even try a sketch noting technique if it’ll make it easier for you to remember things.
Either way, once you start organizing things, you’ll find it easier to remember them. And the harder the subject is to master, the more important is for you to learn how to organize it right.
Summing this up, there are plenty of ways for students to improve their memory and other brain functions. However, these ways don’t limit to memory exercises only. Actually, they cover so many areas of our lives, from our lifestyle to people we spend our time with and things we do to organize the whole learning process.
Therefore, it might take some time and efforts for you to find ways how to train your brain without actually noticing it and getting tired of it. However, this will result in you staying mentally sharp as long as you can – so don’t waste this opportunity.