Mind flexing — keeping your brain fit

Thinking is a power-hungry process. One-fourth of all calories that you spend daily are used by your brain. And like just about anything in your body, your brain needs warming up to reach its maximum efficiency. This short article will give you a brief list of ways to shake your brain cells to life, gently.

1. Crosswords

Crosswords are believed to be generally beneficial for your brain function. That is true but what they really excel at developing is what they are basically about – finding words. Have you ever noticed yourself being unable to recall “that” word so in the end you had to resort to a more simple, generalized concept? Maybe your whole sentence crumpled because that phrase slipped away from your mind? This happens to everyone, even the native speakers. As the number of words you know goes up it becomes increasingly difficult to have every single one of them at hand right away.

This is when crosswords come to help. Solving a challenging crossword hones your ability to fish out a word or phrase you require. However, it is important for the crossword tasks to be difficult enough to stimulate your thinking process. Easy words won’t do the trick. Finally, the more complicated crossword are good to expand your vocabulary – it’s a proven way to memorize words
Good for: Writing, Speaking

2. Coffee

Coffee is the most popular stimulant on our planet. Some like the smell, others dig its taste. What we are interested is how it can help us think.

In order for the coffee to have positive effect, you have to stick to a certain dose. It largely depends on your tolerance and metabolism rate, but a safe bet is to limit your intake of coffee by 250 mg or less (one small cup). Higher doses will not lead to more noticeable effects. On the contrary, too much coffee can backfire and slow your thinking down.

Coffee kicks in after about 20 minutes with the heightened alertness and accelerated thinking lasting about as long. Use this knowledge to time your cup of coffee, usually before your speaking exam (FCE, CAE and IELTS speaking part of exam takes place at a different time, sometimes on another day). Because of its short-lived effect coffee isn’t very effective for reading, listening or writing.
Good for: Speaking

 

3. Glucose

Glucose is the fuel for your brain, it’s primary source of power. Lack of glucose in your body will impair your thinking ability, you will feel confused and unable to concentrate. Glucose is found in all carbohydrates-rich food – fruit and vegetables, pastry and pasta.
When you think actively (solving exam tasks is a perfect example), your supply of glucose depletes at a faster rate. Ensuring you have enough glucose in your body is crucial to keep your cognitive abilities at their peak.
Good for: Everything

4. Physical exercising

Try jogging, some push-ups, even a fast-paced stroll is fine. Whatever gets your blood circulating is good for your mind. Make this your routine to feel an overall improvement in your quality of life.
Good for: Everything

5. A conversation

Prior to your speaking exam you might want to have a chat with a friend or a colleague – basically anyone who speaks English. It’s good if the person knows the language as good as you do or even better than you. A native speaker is your best bet.

The purpose of this act is to make your mind ready for an english-speaking environment (the speaking exam). Another reason to do this is to boost your confidence and because of this don’t seek for help of a friend whose level of English is much higher than that of your own – you might feel inferior in comparison. This will result in a lack in confidence just before the beginning of your exam – not exactly what you would be willing to achieve.
Good for: Speaking, Writing

Extra tips

Chewing a gum before your speaking exam will flex your jaw muscles which helps with pronunciation. It will also makes your breath fresh – a nice way to make you feel more confident.

The warm-up session are especially important if you are going to your exam early in the morning when you aren’t wide awake.

The bottom line: Your confidence can be just as important as your language expertise. To make you feel better and more self-assured, know this – in extreme situations such as an exam your brain knows that it has to do its best — and this process is out of your control. Stay relaxed but keep focused. You’ll be alright.

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