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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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