7 simple tasks to improve focus and boost your brain power

7 simple tasks to improve focus and boost your brain power

Staying physically and mentally agile, and maintaining executive function skills, as you get older can be tricky. But keeping your brain active can be as simple as mindful colouring or a daily Sudoku.

Executive function is a mental skill set that includes memory, mental agility and self-control and it can help us to learn, work, and manage daily life.

As we get older, cognitive tasks can become more difficult as normal decline slows our processing speeds.

While the scientific community is undecided on the direct link between cognitive training and delaying mental decline in old age, sharpening your mind, staying mentally active, and nurturing your executive function is never a bad idea.

In the same way that regular exercise keeps our muscles strong, certain activities could help to improve your:

  • Attention span
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning
  • Working memory.

Keep reading for a look at some simple ways to keep your brain fit, helping you to stay focused and mentally active.

1. Meditation

We all live busy lives and that can make eking out quiet moments for ourselves tough. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are great ways to slow down, regain focus, and improve concentration.

Consider downloading apps like Headspace or Calm that include mindfulness exercises and meditation classes for everyone from first-timers to pros.

You might find 10-minute mindful boosts, fitted into a lunchtime, say, can be worked into your normal day. They could help to improve your concentration and productivity in the afternoon.

2. Colouring

An increased understanding of the benefits of mindful practises has seen a huge rise in adult colouring books over the last few years, with copies swamping bookshop shelves and Christmas stockings.

Intricate and adult-centred designs mean you can spend hours peacefully colouring in. While staying within the lines gives you something to focus on, the simplicity and mundanity of the task is actually clearing and quietening your mind.

This can lead to better focus on other aspects of your day.

3. Sudoku

Another pastime that has taken the nation by storm in recent years, the Japanese number puzzle Sudoku now has as many iterations as there are newspapers to publish them.

Puzzling is a great way to keep your brain active, encouraging you to focus while thinking several steps ahead.

Crosswords, word searches, and jigsaws can all help, so find the puzzle type that works for you. Another puzzle-based game that involves thinking ahead is chess, great if you want to stay mentally active with a partner.

4. Forest bathing

Nature can be calming and fresh air restorative, so why not look for ways to be mindful in the great outdoors?

Another Japanese export, “shinrin yoku” – or “forest bathing” – has been growing in popularity since the 1980s.

All you need to do is head out into a natural environment rich with flora and let the sights, sounds, and smells of the wood or forest wash over you.

Turn off electronic devices and take time to simply be present in the moment.

A great way to de-stress, it also encourages greater focus and concentration, improving your mental health.

5. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is good for your physical health, but studies suggest it can improve your cognitive wellbeing too.

You don’t need to run a marathon or take up rugby, just engage in moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week. According to the NHS, this could include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Dancing
  • Mowing the lawn.

Not only does exercise release endorphins, but it can also increase the volume of some regions of the brain, including the area responsible for memory.

6. Enjoy a balanced diet

Diet may also play an important part in keeping your brain trained and agile.

Age UK reported back in 2022 that nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, vitamins B, D and E, and choline are associated with improved cognitive function in older people. This means eating foods like berries, leafy vegetables, fish, poultry, and beans.

Foods to avoid include cheese, red meats, and sugary sweets.

7. Stay curious

Curiosity might pose well-documented dangers to felines, but as you grow older you’ll want to take every opportunity to try new things and indulge your interests.

And in the age of the internet, there are plenty of ways to explore new areas and ideas.

Read online articles on a topic you’ve never studied before or attend lectures, workshops, and online classes.

Inquisitiveness is your brain asking for stimulation so expand your horizons and be sure to never stop learning.

You might even try a new language or take up playing an instrument. If you’ve always been interested in art but never taken it seriously, maybe now is the time to take the plunge.

Anything that interests you that you haven’t tried before could give you a new lease of life while providing useful exercise for your brain.

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