Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
You CAN become a genius if you want. You are not too old nor are you too young to expand you mind. It is just like every other muscle in your body.
Your mind gets stronger and performs better the more you use and take care of it.
These are the least known secrets that separate geniuses from the rest of the crowd. These are the same secrets that you can use to hack that upcoming FRM exam or any other test coming your way.
You only acquire intelligence by active learning. Think of reading as feeding your brain with the material it needs to grow. Scientists believe that learning initiates a permanent change to the mind.
New information makes your brain grow larger and create new neural connections. You become a smart and efficient thinker in the process.
One of the best reading habits for gaining peak mental fitness before an exam include making notes. This action engages both your body and mind; you are less likely to forget what you read.
Smart people also boost their intellect by creating diagrams and charts that summarize what they have learned.
You need to continually challenge yourself intellectually, to push the speed and power of your thinking and memory. One way to do that is by tackling countless practice questions before the actual examination.
These questions need to be of varying and growing complexity.
Just like lifting weights, you start small then add the weights as you get stronger. Move on to more challenging practice questions every day.
One other important thing to note; you might get all the answers right, but after how long? Time is critical to consider.
You want to have a faster mental processing speed when you step into that room. Therefore, when testing yourself, try to provide the best answers in the shortest time possible with each sample you take.
That’s how you grow your brain. Weight lifters do the same by increasing the number of repetitions in each workout routine and not just lifting more.
Play a strategy game
What do you do during your study break? Here is an idea, play a strategy game. It could be actual games that test your planning, team building, and other skills.
The right intellectual games can simulate real life experiences, placing you in charge of a company or a team and tasking you with steering it to success against a complex set of challenges.
Strategy games can develop your analytical abilities. They can also sharpen your decision-making skills and improve your ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real life scenarios.
Some studies show that playing video games increases the cortical thickness of the brain. That’s because the mind uses more energy (in the form of glucose) when playing such games.
As a result, the subjects formed new neural connections, just like the case with reading, and their brains become more efficient.
Watching TV, especially reality shows and re-runs is the worst thing you can do to your mind. Your brain needs to be learning something new to grow. What you watch has to be fresh and stimulating.
Try a historical, educational or biographical documentary. Better yet- go out and be active, too much TV will rot your brain. Yes, you’ve probably heard that a lot as a child.
Well, there is some science behind the madness. Television gets in the way of creating new neural connections, and that is notably worse in children because they eventually fail to learn the right communication skills.
Too much TV can also be addictive. You slowly learn to ignore logic and become a puppet to your feelings and desires. That sets a dangerous precedence.
The line of thinking can easily spill into every aspect of your life, including in the exam room.
Eat brain food
Well, we already talked about reading being the food for your brain. The truth is the brain (as an organ) needs actual nourishment to remain healthy.
Your mind is 60% fat, and experts, therefore, recommend eating a sufficient amount of healthy fats to nourish it. Aim for a balanced diet with high amounts of plant fats and proteins.
Seafood sources also pack a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids that’s needed to grow your brain. Your diet should include plenty of fatty fish, but do not forget green leafy vegetables, walnuts, coffee, and tea.
Remember too that bacteria in the stomach will influence brain health. There are both good and bad bacteria in your digestive system.
You can keep your gut healthy and increase the count of good bacteria by consuming yogurt and high-fiber food.
The end result will be a robust and high performing brain.
Get enough rest
No fitness enthusiast spends all day at the gym. They work out for a short duration and then rest. And it is in that rest period that muscles grow.
It is the same case for your brain. It needs rest, so stop pulling all-nighters and catch a break.
Researchers have found a strong connection between mental efficiency and adequate sleep. Not getting enough rest leads to cognitive decline.
Sleeping removes waste from the brain and allows it to recharge. It enhances learning and memory abilities and even regulates mood.
Therefore, as you get ready for the exam, remember that sleep is critical and it will better your chances of success.
Get a physical workout
Exercise benefits both your body and brain. Cardio workouts like running and swimming are stress busters, and new studies show that these activities can enlarge the size of your hippocampus- This is the part of the brain responsible for memory and other functions.
Experts recommend 75 minutes of intense workout every week to boost your mental fitness.
A study by the University of Georgia reveals that even a 20-minute daily workout can significantly boost your information processing abilities.
How does it happen? When you work out, your heartbeat rises and more blood flows to your brain. That means that the brain gets more oxygen and nutrients to power its functions.
New workout routines also lead to the creation of neural connections, and therefore, your brain becomes more efficient in the learning, thinking and recalling tasks.
Manage your stress
Stress and other negative feelings often take up too much energy in the body. They also produce hormones, including cortisol, which can lead to memory loss. You can boost your mental fitness by practicing to stay calm.
Instead of thinking about the worst-case scenario, visualize success, and your neural wiring will follow in the same direction.
More energy will start to flow to the brain. Instead of following survival-mode, your mind becomes freer to think and create new learning connections.
Meditation for the soul
Some of the strategies you can use to calm yourself as the test approaches include yoga and meditation. Scientists have found that meditation helps your brain grow bigger.
A daily 30-minute meditation exercise could build you the sharpest mind in less than twelve weeks.
Every meditation session strengthens the grey matter in the regions of the brain associated with learning, memory, and thinking.
MRI scans done on subjects who practiced concentration and breathing exercises every day showed that these volunteers developed a more strengthened hippocampus and posterior cingulate cortex.
(Yes, these words really sound odd to us as well).
Make social connections
One may be tempted to think that locking themselves in with books all day every day is what makes them a genius. No, it doesn’t.
Your brain needs new experiences to grow, and one way to achieve that is by going out and making new friends. And…the right kind of friends will stimulate your intellect.
They will keep you thinking fast by challenging your knowledge, beliefs and encouraging you to try new things.
Loneliness is a significant risk. It is what ushers in memory loss and dementia. You can keep your brain healthy by maintaining your social connections even as you prepare.
These same people can turn out to be a reliable support system. They could give you the motivation and encouragement that you need to keep pushing your intellectual limits.
People with novelty-seeking personalities have one thing in common…they are quick-witted. When you are in an ‘exploratory mode’ you are continually putting your mind to the task.
You are continually experimenting with new ideas, new decisions, new hobbies and talents. All these activities can help to bolster your intellectual strength and give you an edge in the coming challenge.
So, today when you get a chance- put down those books.
Try cooking a new recipe, taste that unique brand of wine, go to the new restaurant, redo your living room decor, paint, draw- just keep yourself creative and your mind always working.
Mental fitness is about cultivating the right environments for optimal intellectual growth, including memory, learning, and thinking.
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