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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 July 10, 2020

            The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

            The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

            Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

            Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

            The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

            Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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            Program Your Own Algorithms

            Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

            Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

            By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

            How to Form a Ritual

            I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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            Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

            1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
            2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
            3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
            4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

            Ways to Use a Ritual

            Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

            1. Waking Up

            Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

            2. Web Usage

            How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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            3. Reading

            How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

            4. Friendliness

            Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

            5. Working

            One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

            6. Going to the gym

            If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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            7. Exercise

            Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

            8. Sleeping

            Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

            8. Weekly Reviews

            The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

            Final Thoughts

            We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

            More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

             

            Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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