One of the challenges of surviving in today’s fast-paced, 24-hour perpetual society is that you are required to be “switched on” all of the time. The ability to keep up requires constant vigilance and mental agility, flexibility, and stamina. Most of us find ourselves mentally exhausted and struggling to maintain constant mental engagement at home, at work, in traffic, and even during our personal down time.
Being “in the zone” all the time is tiresome and virtually impossible. The brain, just like any muscle, gets tired the more it’s used. And like other muscles, learning to make it work for you is the key to optimizing its potential.
Harnessing the power of your brain
1. Challenge your brain
It may sound counterintuitive to add even more stress to an already taxed brain; however, research shows that by stretching your cognition and targeting portions of the brain you use less frequently, you actually increase your mental capacity. By simply learning a new language, learning to play an instrument, or acquiring a new skill—like juggling—you can increase your daily mental productivity and stamina.
2. Celebrate wins throughout the day
Our emotional outlook greatly impacts the brain—and positivity reigns supreme. Neuroplasticity is a sect of brain science that delves into the brain’s power to change its own structure. People with problems like strokes, cerebral palsy, and mental illness can train other areas of their brains through repetitive mental and physical activities. Repetitive positive thoughts and perceived positive activity can rewire and strengthen your brain.
Success promotes positive thoughts and emotions. The quicker you feel successful, the quicker feelings of excitement and positivity emerge and help fuel more behaviors that will set you up for more successes. Pausing to acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest successes—such as getting to work on time, or drinking more water—the more encouraged we become. This produces increased energy levels and decreases feelings of anxiety or even depression as our energy levels go down.
3. Focus on having good posture while you are seated
Really? Sitting up straight increases brain productivity? According to a 2013 Harvard study, researchers found that sitting up straight enhances your mood and increases energy levels. The study found that people who sit in collapsed positions are less assertive. From a purely cognitive perspective, positioning yourself in a powerless, crouched position can predispose your brain to hopelessness, as well as make you more susceptible to depressive thoughts.
4. Be physically active throughout the day
Research shows that physical activity directly affects brain productivity. Neuroscientists worldwide agree that physical activity is the most important element for maintaining brain health and promoting brain productivity for a variety of reasons, including:
- Increased blood flow, which improves cerebrovascular health
- Stimulated growth of new neurons
- Improved white matter integrity
- Improved brain plasticity and elasticity which leads to faster mental processing and better memory
Moving more throughout the day is as simple as taking frequent breaks to stretch and go for short brisk walks around the office or down the hall. Studies show that the incorporation of just 20 minutes of regular aerobic exercise is enough to change the brain’s information processing and memory functions.
In the end, better brain productivity is directly correlated to your overall brain health.
|||^||Fast Company: What It Takes To Change Your Brain’s Patterns After Age 25|
|||^||Medicine Net: Definition Of Neuroplasticity|
|||^||Harvard: iPosture: The Size of Electronic Consumer Devices Affects our Behavior|
|||^||Psychology Today: Why Is Physical Activity So Good For Your Brain|
|||^||National Center of Biotechnology Information: Effects of Acute Bouts Of Physical Exercise On Cognition|