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Family Living Focus: How to boost your brain power

Do you sometimes feel as if your brain is on “empty?” Here is how to keep it in shape so you can pump up your problem-solving abilities, fight forgetfulness and think more clearly and creatively.

Practice mentally. Studies of athletes indicate that imagining a tennis serve or ski run between competitions can boost performance. A possible reason for this is because mental rehearsals use most of the brain connections switched on during the real thing, so they help build mental muscle.

Capture creative peaks. Experts believe the brain to be in a highly creative state just before going to sleep and right after waking up. Therefore, you will want to use these times to think about solutions to problems and jot down any ideas that come to you.

Focus your attention. To help remember “where” something is, try the following. If you tend to misplace your car keys, for example, say to yourself, “I’m placing the keys on the shelf by the hallway mirror.”To help remember “when” try noting the day’s headline news or what you were wearing at the time of performing a task.

Use it or lose it. Research suggests that as you age, you can reverse a decline in thinking abilities by becoming more mentally active. A smart move would be to learn a new language, study a new subject, play games like checkers and do crosswords and other puzzles.

Keep fit. Evidence shows that people in their 70’s and 80’s who stay healthy can expand their brain power and easily match the mental abilities of a 30-year-old. This means that it is helpful to keep physically active, manage stress and maintain a positive attitude.

More mental muscle builders. Read more. Eat foods rich in brain-boosting beta-carotene (like apricots, carrots, papayas, and sweet potatoes). Use rhymes and acronyms to help remember facts and names.

If you would like more information on “How to Boost Your Brain Power” feel free to contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus ñ University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focusô information in next week’s paper.

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