BOOST YOUR BRAINPOWER
When you're getting ready
Put on some good music and listen while you brush your hair and pick your outfit. Music can boost concentration and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can slow cognition. Experts once believed classical music was best for the brain, but recent research suggests that any music you love yes, including the soundtrack to Mamma Mia sequel has benefits, says neurologist Barry Jordan, M.D., assistant medical director of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York.
Before you leave the house
Illustrate you're to-do list. Drawing something you don't want to forget, like a carton of milk, may be even more beneficial than writing it down, a University of Waterloo study showed. Researchers believe you're more likely to recall your sketch later because drawing taps multiple kinds of skills: motor, verbal, and visual.
While you're prepping for a presentation
Get in touch with your senses. Breathe in that coffee aroma; take note of the way light is reflected off of the table. The parts of the brain that help us process input from our senses may also play a role in storing memories, says Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., coauthor of the book Intelligent Memory.
On your way home
Take a different route. "The brain works largely out of habit," says Ian Robertson, Ph.D., distinguished scientist of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas. "When you do something unfamiliar, your brain fires off neurotransmitters that improve communication between its different regions."
Stash your phone. People who toggle between screens and human interaction don't process and retain information as well, found a Stanford University study. You'll want these memories later even of your kids' fight over whose cookie was bigger.
In the evening
Wind down with a board game or a good book. "both maintain and build intellectual engagement," says Cynthia Green, Ph.D., found of the Memory Enhancement Program at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Challenging your brain may help goose your "cognitive reserve" so if your brain begins to slow, it can call on extra neurons you've built up, she says.