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Science Shows How Crossing Your Arms And Legs Can Hugely Change Your Brain

Science Shows How Crossing Your Arms And Legs Can Hugely Change Your Brain

The human brain is fascinating and mysterious. It rules our very existence.

We can participate in a number of actions and activities to enhance our brain function, which influences our health and wellbeing — physically, emotionally, and mentally. These days, there are a number of brain-training methods to promote mental fitness. Lumosity is one of the best and most well-known programs. But, did you know that the simple act of crossing your arms and legs can have actual health benefits and change how your brain functions?

We know a fair bit about how the human brain works and how it governs our bodies, emotions, and our psychology. There is still so much that we have yet to learn. It was once thought that we only used 10% of our brain function because it is made up of 10% nerve cells called neurons, which direct our behaviors and thoughts. However, recent research has shown that glial cells, which make up around 90% of our brains, have a lot more influence on our neurons than previously thought. So, in actual fact, we do use more than 10% of our brains.

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We also know that the brain is divided into two hemispheres — the right brain and the left brain. The right brain is associated with emotion and creativity and governs the left side of the body. The left brain focuses more on logic and details and controls the right side of the body. Down the center runs the mid line of the central nervous system, or CNS.

”Research has found that when you move your extremities across this mid line, the opposite-sided brain will start to help regulate its movement, meaning both brain hemispheres are now activated and functioning simultaneously,” says Seth M., who wrote on the subject for ExpandedConsciousness.com.

The ambidexterity achieved while crossing your arms and legs can cause your brain to function optimally. It can dramatically reduce stress and help you to learn and cognate more clearly because it synchronizes both hemispheres of the brain and both sides of the body simultaneously.

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“Bringing both hemispheres in sync with one another allows you to achieve a sort of ‘super learning’ state of being where you are able to think with both logic and emotion.”

Humans are creatures of habit

We get accustomed to doing the same things over and over again. We live our daily lives doing repetitive rituals and we don’t challenge our brains to function in new and different ways very often. This is why it was thought that we use only 10% of our brains — because that is all it takes to fall into a comfortable pattern of behavior and thought, which is what humans tend to do.

Inviting ourselves to use our brains in ways that we aren’t used to can fire up neurons and their pathways that we don’t use often and can change our habits. This, in turn, can have psychological and physiological benefits. This is why people engage in activities like painting, writing, cooking, running, rock climbing, and yoga. These activities teach us to see the world differently. They force us to think outside of our habits.

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The ancient art of yoga has gained popularity in modern times

Yoga involves doing both simple and challenging physical postures called asanas that require flexibility, balance, and focus. It also entails mindfulness and concentration to achieve these postures and keep you in the present moment. It relies on the regulation of breathing to reduce the mind and body’s natural stress response to difficult stimuli. The interaction between your mind, body, and breath can have profound impacts on your health and well being.

“The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways. For example, if you’re stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking. Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts. Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases. Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking,” says neuroscientist Alex Korb.

The Eagle Pose, or Garudasana, is a perfect example of a pose that crosses the CNS. It can have excellent effects on the body and mind. It requires a fair bit of balance, focus, and flexibility and involves crossing your arms and legs — first to the right side, then the left and balancing on one foot. This pose can take a bit of practice.

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garudasana

    Keep it simple

    Crossing your arms and legs the ordinary way can have just as many health benefits as doing it in the opposite way to what you are used to. This means both in terms of increasing your ambidexterity and brain function. You don’t have to be a yoga master to do that.

    So remember, next time you are bored in a meeting or waiting for a bus, start crossing your arms and legs and know that you are doing something positive for your health. Just make sure your facial expression is serene and not impatient to avoid giving the wrong message — both to others and to your brain.

    Featured photo credit: wavebreakmedia via shutterstock.com

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    Diane Koopman

    Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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