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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.

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Erica Wagner

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

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Published on July 7, 2020

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

The Skinny on Mental Workouts

Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

1. Improved Memory

After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

3. Improved Work Performance

Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

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Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

1. Brainstorming

One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

2. Dancing

Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

3. Learning a New Language

Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

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4. Developing a Hobby

Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

For example:

  • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
  • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
  • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
  • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

5. Board Games

Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

6. Card Games

Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

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7. Puzzles

Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

8. Playing Music

Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

9. Meditating

Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
  • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
  • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
  • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
  • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

10. Deep Conversation

There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

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Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

11. Cooking

When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

12. Mentorship

Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

Final Thoughts

Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

More Tips for Training Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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