You probably already know that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and ‘healthy fats’ like nuts, fish and olive oil provide a host of health benefits, but such a diet also improves your brain. With a stronger, healthier brain you are able to recall and process information quicker, solve everyday problems with greater ease and execute familiar tasks with minimum of mental effort.

However, eating a healthy diet is not all that is required to improve your brain. What you do is also very important for your brain. Here are some delightful ways you can boost your brain power today and enjoy yourself while at it. After all, we all want a stronger, more powerful brain, right?

1.   Do fun mental exercises.

Brain power, like muscular strength, requires you to use it or you might lose it. The more you exercise your brain, the stronger and more powerful it gets. Besides reading widely, exercise your brain with regularly activities that require you to use your hands. For example, play a musical instrument or game like ping pong (table tennis). Also, knit, juggle or do some needlework. These activities work your brain by challenging hand-eye co-ordination. They also call for spatial-temporal reasoning and stir your creativity. Wrestling with crossword puzzles, Sudoku and mastering chess also help workout and improve your brain.

2.   Do simple physical exercises.

Physical exercise is not only good for your physique, but also for your brain. It increases oxygen flow to your brain, enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and prevents risks of disorders that affect the brain, such as memory loss. The best part about physical exercise is that you don’t have to do high-intensity workouts to reap the rewards. Simple activities like riding your bike to and from work and taking routine walks around your neighborhood also help to improve your brain. Walk for 20 to 30 minutes per day, at least three times a week. It will clear your mind, bust stress and enhance your ability to process and remember information.

3.   Get enough sleep.

The importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be overemphasized, especially in our fast paced modern life where people think the harder and longer you work each day, the more you get done. Working longer hours each day at the expense of a good rest, does more harm than good to both your body and brain. When you are sleep deprived, your brain works sub-optimally. Your creativity dips, problem-solving abilities suffer and critical thinking skills are compromised. In fact, research shows that sleep is essential for memory consolidation. Key memory-enhancing activities occur during the deepest stages of sleep. Enjoy at least seven hours of sleep each night. It will give your brain function a real boost.

4.   Make time for friends and fun.

Human beings are highly social creatures. We are not meant to survive, let alone thrive, alone. Just hanging out with friends, family members and even total strangers stimulates our brains and is actually one of the best ways to exercise the brain. Countless studies show having meaningful relationships and a strong support system is vital for both emotional and mental health. One study from the Harvard School of Public Health, in particular, showed that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of mental decline. Make time for friends and enjoy lighthearted pastimes. Go watch a movie, join a sports club or volunteer for a worthy cause. A life that’s full of friends and fun brings marked cognitive improvements.

5.   Don’t forget to smile and laugh more.

Laughter is the best medicine. It engages multiple regions across the whole brain, which is markedly different from what happens during emotional responses. Moreover, working out jokes and funny punch lines activates parts of the brain that are responsible for learning and creativity. Learn from children and take life lightly. Smile and laugh and laugh—even at yourself. Laughter boosts your brain activity and enhances its performance. As Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the book Emotional Intelligence, observes “Laughter…seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely.” Besides, it is said you add a day to your life just by adding one moment of joyful laughter in your day.