Making decisions is an important part of life. Most people can manage to make wise decisions if they have plenty of time to gather facts and ponder the various possibilities. However, often life does not allow for that kind of luxury. In business dealings and in life, frequently decisions have to be made now, on the spot, or the opportunity will be lost forever. Most people struggle to make good decisions when under stress. However, there are several easy ways to improve your decision making skills.
1. Learn something new
Devote a few hours a week to learning a new skill- playing an instrument, learning a foreign language, mastering a new dance step. Any new skill that is challenging and different will improve your ability to quickly grasp new facts and situations, which of course will improve your ability to make decisions. There is another benefit in learning and doing something new or different: it changes your perception of time passing.
2. Eat fish
Eating oily fish such as salmon, or taking fish-oil supplements, is well known to improve the cognitive abilities of the elderly. However, these same supplements also increase reaction time and reduce mental fatigue when consumed by younger people. Eating seafood three times a week or taking fish-oil supplements will improve your brain’s function.
3. Exercise daily
Clogged arteries and a sluggish circulation don’t just affect your ability to play sports- they affect your brain, too. If your brain can’t get enough oxygen and glucose due to cardiovascular disease, your ability to think will decline even more rapidly than your ability to run a 5K. Playing sports that require a rapid response to changing conditions, such as squash or racquetball, may have a greater impact on decision-making skills than slogging on the treadmill for hours. But any kind of exercise will improve brain function.
4. Practice yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation have been shown to improve the ability to concentrate. Their biggest benefit to decision-making under stress is that they encourage the development of a calm mind. When others flip out and can’t think due to stress, experienced yoga and meditation practitioners can bring their minds into crystal-clear focus and make that decision.
5. Medications and supplements
There are medications and supplements available which may improve cognitive skills and enhance mood. It has been approved by the FDA for treating excessive daytime sleepiness. Students and corporate executives have used it off-label and report it enhances memory, alertness, and general thinking skills. Ginkgo biloba is a another supplement that has been used by many over the years. It seems to act primarily by improving blood flow to the brain. It may improve memory and enhance cognition. It doesn’t seem to have any side effects in most people.
These five easy steps will enhance your ability to think under pressure. They will improve your memory and help sharpen your cognitive skills. You’ll able to make wise decisions quickly and with authority.