Though it may seem difficult, it is entirely possible for an individual to take steps to improve his or her cognitive skills, including memory, concentration, and decision-making, among others. Some of the best methods for improving cognition are also simply good for the body, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting plenty of sleep each night. Other tips for improving cognition are directly related to using the brain, such as practicing memory by doing word puzzles, or by reading a book instead of sitting down in front of the television.
Steps to improving cognition are often directly related to the overall health of the body. Eating a healthy diet, made up of fruits and vegetables as well as the "healthy" fats and proteins found in items like fish or lean meat, is important for the health of the brain. In addition, regular aerobic exercise, even something as simple as a brisk walk at lunchtime, can boost blood flow to the brain as well as encourage the release of mood-boosting endorphins that help to combat stress. Stress is one of the biggest negative impacts on cognition, so this is doubly important. Drinking enough water throughout the day, and getting enough sleep at night, also help to keep mental processes quick and sharp.
Of course, improving cognition can also be accomplished through dedicated effort and memory exercises. In some cases, video games that force the player to think and react quickly, and to solve puzzles, can work to improve cognition. Low-tech memory or thinking games, such as crossword puzzles or number games, can also help to improve problem-solving skills and improve overall brain function. These can also help to improve memory, one of the most important aspects of cognition, particularly as an individual ages.
Improving cognition can be just a fun part of everyday life, too. Developing a habit of reading every night, rather than plopping down in front of the television for hours, helps to keep the brain active, and also helps an individual improve his or her vocabulary. Learning a new hobby or skill, such as playing a musical instrument, painting, or knitting, also engages different parts of the brain and improves dexterity. Even just taking some time each day to change up the routine by driving a different route to work, or making an effort to really notice the surroundings encourages the brain to "wake up" and become more engaged, which also improves cognition.