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10 Things You Can Do Every Day To Benefit Your Brain

10 Things You Can Do Every Day To Benefit Your Brain

A mind is a valuable thing to waste. You’ve heard the saying many times, but it truly does ring true. Your mind is your most valuable asset. You need to take care of it. So here’s a list of 10 things you can do every day to benefit your brain:

1. Take a nap.

Refreshing your body can also help you improve brain function, increase memory, and improve your mood. Even just 15 minutes can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life. So take a nap, feel refreshed, and help your brain all in one. Naps improve your brain performance, so why are you still awake?

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2. Do something creative just before going to bed.

When you’re tired, your brain can be more creative. Take advantage! Whether you’re writing the next great American Novel or dusting off the old paint brush and canvas, finding your creative outlet just before going to bed can yield great results. So tap your inner Picasso and create something beautiful. Just don’t fall asleep with the brush in your hand.

3. Focus on one task at a time.

Did you know that it’s literally impossible for your brain to multitask? By focusing on one task at a time, you can keep your brain working at maximum capability and accomplish more than you imagined. Find a task you need to finish and focus solely on it. Leave the phone in the other room, turn the TV off, and focus. Your brain will thank you.

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4. Do cardio. And exercise.

You’ve heard that cardio leads to a healthier, better body. But it also helps the mind. Find 15-30 minutes a day and get moving! You don’t need a gym membership or any fancy equipment. Just a walk around the neighborhood can do wonders and benefit your brain.

5. Write. Like on a real piece of paper.

Computers, iPads, tablets, smartphones and the connection to the internet everywhere means it’s becoming less and less likely that you will pull out a piece of paper and write. But research suggests handwriting makes you smarter. So leave the computer on your desk during your next meeting and write your notes.

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6. Take a multi-vitamin daily.

Your car needs oil, your smartphone needs a battery, and your brain needs nutrients. A daily multi-vitamin will ensure that you get your body what it needs. And it will help your brain according to research from the British Journal of Nutrition. Pro-tip: Take your mutli-vitamin with a healthy smoothie to get your day off to a great start.

7. Learn a new language.

Learning a new language is one of the best ways to benefit your brain. It forces your brain to adapt. Learning a language can enrich your life and help you explore new culture, but also has great benefits for your brain. So grab your Rosetta Stone or use a free service like Duolingo and learn something everyday.

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8. Play Words With Friends.

The hit game Words with Friends is addictive, yes, but also has great benefits for your brain! Research has found that Scrabble or other word games help increase your IQ and improve your brain power. So play your favorite variation of “jabberwock” and have fun with your friends while benefiting your brain.

9. Meditate.

Meditation is one of the best, oldest forms of relaxation. But it also helps your body and mind! The benefits for your brain found in this study show that meditation benefits nearly every part of the brain. So spend time every day in meditation! You’ll feel more relaxed and truly will be in a better state of mind.

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10. Be optimistic.

Being optimistic not only helps you enjoy life, it also does wonders for your brain. When you think positively, research suggests that your brain can be a huge beneficiary. So start taking life with the glass half full approach and help your attitude and your brain.

Featured photo credit: illuminaut via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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