how to improve executive functions

How to Improve Executive Functions and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Executive Functions and Boost Your Brainpower

Did someone you trust mention executive functions and now you entered an internet rabbit hole on how to improve executive functions? Maybe, this started because you feel like you’re in a mental rut, struggling to break free from a cycle of lethargy, anxiety, or frustration. It’s like your brain is constantly hitting a wall, and the gears just won’t turn. If so, you’re not alone. Many of us grapple with this feeling from time to time, and it often stems from challenges in our executive functioning (EF) skills.

Before we dive into how to improve executive functions, let’s understand what they are and why they are important. Executive functions encompass our ability to navigate through complex tasks, make decisions, plan ahead, and ultimately, feel accomplished and satisfied with our efforts. In essence, they are the cognitive processes that drive our daily lives.

So, if you’ve found yourself at the question, “How to strengthen executive functions?”—the answer lies in optimizing your brain’s performance. Let’s dive into three practical strategies on how to improve EF skills that you can start doing today to reclaim control over your mental processes.

Three Easy Ways on How to Improve Executive Functions

1. Prioritize Sleep: It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is essential for overall well-being. But did you know that sleep plays a crucial role in supporting cognitive functions, including executive functions? During sleep, the brain consolidates memories, clears out toxins, and replenishes neurotransmitters vital for optimal brain function. I always tell my clients who want to know how to strengthen executive functions to aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Now, I get it, setting a goal to fall asleep and stay asleep every night can be challenging. Especially for those that struggle with anxiety and insomnia. This is where having a good routine can make a huge difference. Some of the helpful tips I give my clients are

  • Get morning sun exposure by taking morning walks or not wearing sunglasses when driving to work.
  • No caffeine after lunch and supplement times of drowsiness with cold showers, taking a walk, or going to the gym.
  • Put away all electronics 1 hour before bedtime and replace it with journaling, meditating, or reading a book.

As a coach and as a fellow insomniac, I know that sleep can be really tough and the results are rarely immediate. However, sleep is one of the most important components of how to improve EF.

2. Embrace Exercise: Physical activity isn’t just beneficial for your body—it’s also a boon for your brain. It is critical in how to improve executive functions for the long term. Engaging in consistent exercise promotes the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are essential for mood regulation and cognitive function. Moreover, aerobic exercise has been shown to enhance executive functions such as attention, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a gym workout, find activities that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine. Here are some more ideas that I have suggested to my clients in the past:

  • Hang up a pull up bar on the bathroom door frame and do 2 pull ups every single time you go into the bathroom.
  • Create a simple workout routine you can do at night right before you shower. This can be a simple 30 minute routine that not only gets your body moving but helps with no electronics before bed.
  • Make walks after dinner a daily routine. Use it to catch up with friends and family on the phone or in person. The more people involved, the more accountable we are to the activity.

3. Nourish Your Body: The old adage “you are what you eat” holds true when it comes to brain health and how to strengthen executive functions. Try consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that provide essential nutrients for cognitive function and energy metabolism. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds have been linked to improved executive functions, while antioxidants in colorful fruits and vegetables help protect brain cells from oxidative stress. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods to fuel your brain and optimize its performance. Here are some ways to stay accountable to your diet.

  • Keep a food journal and reflect on what you liked and didn’t like about what you ate. Oftentimes, a simple reflection motivates us to keep a habit going.
  • Get someone you know involved. Cooking together and enjoying a meal together makes the hassle of thinking about what to cook worth it.
  • Try to meal prep if you are tight on time. So many of my clients tell me that eating healthy just takes too much time and effort. Meal prepping is a great way to save time and keep accountable to your diet. If it is cooked already and tastes great, it is pretty hard to eat something else and throw away all of your hard work!

A Few More Ways on How to Improve EF

In addition to these lifestyle factors, fostering social connections and limiting multitasking can also contribute to improved executive functions. Meaningful interactions with others stimulate brain activity and provide opportunities for cognitive engagement, while minimizing distractions allows you to focus more effectively on tasks at hand. When we are more engaged, we are more likely to make progress on what is important to us.

But what if you’re still struggling to unlock your full cognitive potential? This is where a professional executive functions coach can offer valuable support on how to improve executive functions. At EFC, we specialize in helping individuals identify their strengths and weaknesses, develop personalized strategies for improvement, and navigate challenges related to organization, time management, and decision-making. Through targeted interventions and ongoing coaching, we empower clients to overcome obstacles, maximize their productivity, and lead more fulfilling lives.

Boost Focus & Productivity: Improve Executive Function Skills

We understand how frustrating it can be to feel like you’re not reaching your full potential. If you’re ready to take control of your focus and organization, our personalized consultations can provide the support and strategies you need. Take the first step – schedule your 1-on-1 consultation today!

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