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Welcome to part 2 of the prefrontal cortex GM series of posts!

Last week in part 1, I went over what the executive functions are specifically (decision-making, focus skills, “big thinking” abilities, planning, and emotional management – to name a few).

This week, I’ve looked into some basic tips on how to strengthen your prefrontal cortex (and consequently improve your executive functions) and I’m sharing with you some of my favorites that I found…

  1. Filter the information you entertain. Information overload negatively affects your brain’s frontal lobe capacity to think clearly and make strong decisions. This is the best argument I’ve heard for “not sweating the small stuff.” Who wants to be focused on the trivial when it detracts from the relevant?

  2. Think from your “wise mind”. This is a technique I learned a while back that I absolutely love. If you have difficulty regulating your impulses or emotions, pause for a beat and ask yourself what the wiser version of yourself would do. By using your critical thinking skills, you switch right out of your emotion mind and into a more rational state.

  3. Create a positive future story. Optimism promotes rising levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

  4. Focus on learning new and engaging activities to fire off neurons and develop a stronger PFC.

  5. Get good sleep. I feel like this tip might be on every health/body/mind tip list that’s ever existed, and that’s probably for a reason. When it comes to prefrontal cortex performance, studies (by Kate McGonigal, PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct) show that when sleep-deprived people start getting better sleep, their brain scans no longer show signs of PFC impairment.

  6. Meditate. Meditation improves not only your willpower but also your focus, attention, stress management, and self-awareness.

  7. Manage your willpower. {I love this technique – I think this one might be the most helpful and it also is the one I’d like to work on the most.} If you understand that your willpower is in limited supply and can ebb and flow considering various conditions (time of day, amount of sleep, stressful environments, etc), you can properly prepare yourself for those times when you’re mentally exhausted and have low self-control. You can’t necessarily control when your willpower is in low supply, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, control your environment and ensure that you’re setting yourself up for willpower success.

  8. Consume vitamin-rich foods and exercise. Nutrient-packed foods and exercise that is fun for you will boost your mood, improve the efficiency of cognitive function, and help persist against emotional resistance.

Hope these helped.

Looking forward to your thoughts,




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