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Last Updated on December 20, 2019

Feel Like Your Brain Not Working? You Need To De-stress

Feel Like Your Brain Not Working? You Need To De-stress

Have you ever sat down to complete a task or tried to focus at work and you felt so overwhelmed you just couldn’t get it together? Have you ever felt that your stress levels were at an all-time high and you felt like your mind is scattered and foggy? Have you ever felt constantly exhausted, irritable, distracted, and unhappy overall? Then you probably are suffering from something called brain fog.

The good news is you won’t suffer from this forever. There are many natural ways you can rid yourself of this debilitating condition and get yourself back to a happier you.

Symptoms of Brain Fog

  • Inability to focus
  • Processing information at a slower pace
  • Memory is poor
  • Feelings of grogginess and confusion
  • Anxiety

Keep in mind that brain fog typically tends to worsen when you are feeling stressed, worried, rushed and dealing with too much information at once. Here are 4 ways to de-stress and get rid of brain fog:

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1. Get more sleep

When suffering from brain fog, it may be difficult to shut your brain off at night. You may find yourself lying in bed for hours before finally drifting off to sleep, and when you do fall asleep, you may find that you’re unable to sleep through the night without waking up a few times.

There are quite a few ways that you can unwind prior to getting into bed so you’re able to relax and fall asleep much easier. For example, if you start reading before bed, it sends a signal to your body and mind that it’s soon time to sleep. Or, if you take a warm bath before bed, your body recognizes that the day is coming to a close and it’s time to relax.

Also, try listening to calming music in conjunction with some stretching and relaxation exercises. The whole point of having a pre-sleep routine is to prep your mind and body for sleep. Figure out when you want to be in bed by and then set aside 30-60 minutes for your pre-sleep time.

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2. Get moving

When suffering from brain fog, your brain is unable to get the nutrients and oxygen that it needs to function properly. It boils down to a circulation issue, which can be caused by not getting enough exercise, or having a somewhat sedentary lifestyle. By getting regular exercise, your neural connections increase, and your hormones balance out. Numerous studies have shown that one of the most crucial things you can do for your brain is to get up and start moving around. When we find ourselves stuck in brain fog, we may want to just crawl into bed and sleep away our stresses.

Get out and experience nature. Take a walk, ride a bike, and link up with a friend to join you. Having a workout buddy is a nice little trick to pick up a daily habit. The clarity you feel afterward will be such a relief.

3. Keep a journal

Keeping a journal is extremely beneficial for a number of reasons. You don’t need to just journal at the end of the day before bed. Carry it with you throughout the day. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, have a random thought that is bothering you, make a point to write it down, regardless of what time of day it is.

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In addition, keep track of the foods you’re eating, your daily activities, and your sleep patterns. It may seem a little time consuming, but by the process of elimination, you may begin to notice a pattern that triggers your brain fog.

Either way, sometimes the best way to get out your thoughts is to see them down on paper. Keeping thoughts in your head that cause you any type of mental and emotional discomfort is not healthy.

4. Meditate

Meditation is good for the mind, body, and soul. When a person meditates, the body produces less of those so-called stress hormones, better known as cortisol and adrenaline and this increases the neurotransmitters. Regular meditation is one of the most powerful activities to improve overall health.

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Start out practicing for five minutes a day until you’re able to practice for 20 to 30 minutes morning and evening. However, if you can’t dedicate that much time during your day, 10 minutes a day will make a significant difference.

Stress can cause you to feel overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious. It can make getting out of bed almost unbearable some days. The good news is that there are many natural ways you can reduce your stress and regain control over your mental wellbeing.

Using the above tips to get rid of brain fog reduces stress and helps us regain normal cognitive abilities like mental clarity, memory, and concentration. Get started today to get yourself back to a better and healthier you.

More by this author

Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

1. Performing Arts

One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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2. Visual Art

Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

3. Zone Out

If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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4. Practice Mindfulness

The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

Final Thoughts

So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

More Tips on Boosting Creativity

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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