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Start Reading! Reading Books Is How Obama Survived The White House

Start Reading! Reading Books Is How Obama Survived The White House

Remember those days as a kid, when you could be transported to another world and back all in a single afternoon? Sitting down with a good book was a chance to dream and imagine. Fortunately for adults, reading is not only entertaining and enjoyable, but also a great way to reduce stress and learn about the world around you.

Reading Reduces Stress

According to a study published in the Journal of College Teaching and Learning, reading for just 30 minutes can dramatically reduce stress levels. Researchers studied the stress responses of students enrolled in the Health Science program, a rigorous and high-stress set of courses, at Seton Hall University.

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They measured the heart rate, blood pressure, and self-reported levels of stress for each participant. After reading for 30 minutes, the participants scored significantly lower on the measurements for these variables.[1]

Reading is More Effective than Other Stress Reduction Techniques

When we think of ways to reduce our stress, many of us imagine relaxing and listening to music, or enjoying some other form of peace and quiet. Researchers found, however, that reading is a more effective way to reduce stress than walking or listening to music.[2]

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Reading appears to add another element to typical stress reduction techniques because it requires high levels of concentration. You are unlikely to be distracted by your own worries and thoughts while you are focused on reading. When your mind is fully absorbed in a good book, your heart rate slows and your blood pressure is reduced.

Reading Before Bed Improves Sleep

Not only does reading reduce stress during the day, but it also promotes a better night’s sleep. You don’t need to read for hours either. Reading for just six minutes before bed can help you sleep better. Researchers at the University of Sussex saw a 68% reduction in stress indicators when participants read for just six minutes.[3]

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Instead of texting your friends or scrolling through pages on Facebook, consider reading a novel for just a few minutes before bed. You will be amazed by how relaxed you feel.

Obama Used Reading to Stay Grounded

Researchers and college students are not the only ones to take advantage of the stress reduction opportunities that reading has to offer. Former president Barack Obama also used reading to clear his mind, gain perspective, and reduce his stress during his years in the White House.[4]

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Obama has been an avid reader since he was a child, utilizing books as a way to understand others and ease some of the loneliness he experienced in his youth. During different periods in his life, Obama was inspired by the writings of great thinkers like Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.[5] He also read the biographies of other presidents to remind himself that he was not alone in the challenges he faced.

While the benefits of reading have always been numerous, we can now add stress relief to the list. Whether you want to learn a new skill, understand a different culture, or simply relax after a busy workday, reading will help take you outside yourself. This experience of entering another world outside your own perspective is one of the best ways to ease stress.

So next time you have a particularly hectic day at the office, be sure to schedule some reading time before bed. Your heart and mind will both thank you.

Reference

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Lindsay Shaffer

Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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