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10 Surprisingly Simple Things You Can Do to Recharge Your Mind

10 Surprisingly Simple Things You Can Do to Recharge Your Mind

With the myriad of things that demand our attention in our daily lives, it is difficult to find the time to spend on keeping our minds healthy. We run our physical bodies on empty, stopping to refuel only when we can. Our minds get even less attention.

One thing we know for sure is that stress can kill us; at least it is killing our minds slowly. Results from one study examining the impact of stress on health showed that participants with the greatest stress reactions over an eight day period had the highest incidence of depression and anxiety 10 years later! So what we do now does matter for our long-term wellness. Keeping your mind healthy and running well is one of the keys to optimal health and well-being. I must admit that we are all pretty close to losing it sometimes and sometimes only self-care can help to redirect us.

Here are 10 ways to recharge your mind and return yourself to the path of optimum health and longevity in this fast-paced world.

1. Give it rest

It cannot be said enough and will continue to be a cardinal truth of wellness: your rest is the most important thing you can do for your mind. Can you imagine running 24 hours without a break? How would your body react to that? With fits of complete exhaustion and maybe even failure. We can’t imagine that unless we’re into extreme sports. Yet, we subject our minds to continuous work, never really taking any time for just rest and rejuvenation. Our best way to rest is to sleep at night. During the key hours of rejuvenation our mind gets a chance to shut down its major processes and get to the business of storing much-needed information. When we don’t allow those processes to happen as they should, we jeopardize our own well-being.

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    2. Exercise it

    It’s funny saying this after asking you to rest your mind, but after rest, exercise is the next best thing. The endorphins that you get as a result of exercising work wonders for your mind. During exercise, your body is filled with serotonin. Your blood vessels are expanding and contracting. When you are done, you feel great and your mind feels even better! University of Georgia researchers have shown that exercising improves overall brain function, long-term memory and information processing skills.

    3. Experiment with it. Push it to the limit … sometimes

    Ask your mind to remember things that you would not ordinarily try to. Do you remember reciting poetry in grade school? Recitation alone helps to build memory muscles in a way that helps our mind remain healthy. Use it to create new habits by way of 30-day or 21-day experiments. Erase some words from your vocabulary for the week, or month. Put your mind to work.

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      4. Redefine its hopes and dreams

      Creating a renewed hope in the future is another way to rejuvenate and recharge your mental systems. Hopefulness and looking forward to the future fill you with positive feelings. Developing new mental pictures of happiness and success creates new neural pathways in your brain, freeing up some of those much-overworked brain cells.

      5. Convert it to positivism

      Psychological research on positivity shows that thinking positive thoughts on a daily basis raises your energy levels. Positive thoughts energize you and help to open you up to new possibilities. When you don’t have time to engage in a lengthy exercise, thinking positive thoughts throughout your day can help to keep your mind energized and help you feel refreshed.

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        6. Fill it with gratitude

        According to neuroscientists, gratitude is one powerful act of kindness to yourself. Gratitude has been linked to decreased levels of depression, anxiety, insomnia and physical illness. Gratitude as a practice has long-ranging effects, but a brief gratitude practice is still good for your mind. One quick way to rejuvenate and re-energize your mind is to make a list of three, seven or 10 things that are positive in your day and/or your life. This could range from having a car to drive, a job, best friends, or even a latte. Being grateful for the things that you have increase your happiness levels and energize your mind to continue to do well.

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        7. Take it on a trip to the East

        The effects of mediation and, by extension, mindfulness practices are well documented and long practiced in the Eastern traditions. Lately Westerners have gotten wind of the mind-healthy benefits of meditation, tai chi and mindfulness practices. When you are running a long day and need to re-energize, take a break and go East. One quick meditation practice that I learned about recently and love is to follow the outline of a star in your mind while you deep breathe. For every point on the star, alternate your breaths, i.e., start at the top and take a deep breath, pushing your belly all the way out. For the next point, exhale deeply through your nose returning your belly to its original position. Alternate your breaths until you have drawn a complete star or stars (depending on how much you need).

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          8. Give it lots of sex

          Endorphins, endorphins, endorphins! Having lots of sex boosts the amount of feel-good hormones during the act and calming hormones after. After a good romp, your mind is not only at ease, it’s ready to tackle anything and everything. Take advantage of it.

          9. Feed it properly

          More than a physical requirement for maintaining health and wellness, feeding yourself well can have a positive, energizing effect on your mind. Mediterranean diets have been linked with decreased levels of psychological conditions. In addition, the knowledge that you are filling yourself up with healthy, wholesome foods that energize your body also serves to recharge your mind. So the next time you are running late, grab a healthy meal and experience its effects on your mind.

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            10. Challenge it to create

            When you are feeling swamped and in the middle of a stressful crisis, as counterintuitive as it sounds, one way to keep you sane is to take a break to find the creative parts of yourself. Put on some music and play air guitar and air drums to your favorite tunes. Put on a couple of Black Eyed Peas songs and go crazy dancing to them or get down on the floor and draw like you used to in preschool. It will give you a brief mental vacation and will re-energize you mentally and physically. After all, wouldn’t you prefer to be having fun?

            So there you are. Ten very simple things that you can do to recharge your  mind, no matter how busy you are. Put them into practice and you’ll be surprised how energized your mind (and body) will feel! What are some other really simple things that work to help you feel energized?

            Featured photo credit: Scent of a Woman/Flashflood via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on September 20, 2018

            8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

            8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

            You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

            Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

            When you train your brain, you will:

            • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
            • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
            • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

            So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

            1. Work your memory

            Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

            When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

            If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

            The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

            Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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            Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

            What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

            For example, say you just met someone new:

            “Hi, my name is George”

            Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

            Got it? Good.

            2. Do something different repeatedly

            By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

            Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

            It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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            And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

            But how does this apply to your life right now?

            Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

            Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

            Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

            So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

            You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

            That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

            3. Learn something new

            It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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            For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

            Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

            You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

            4. Follow a brain training program

            The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

            5. Work your body

            You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

            Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

            Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

            Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

            6. Spend time with your loved ones

            If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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            If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

            I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

            7. Avoid crossword puzzles

            Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

            Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

            Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

            8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

            Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

            When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

            So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

            The bottom line

            Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

            Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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