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10 Ways to Keep Your Mental Powers in Top Form

10 Ways to Keep Your Mental Powers in Top Form

Would you like to stay mentally active? Let me tell you that it is all about connections. Our brains weigh about three pounds and have about 100 billion neurons which are all connected by about 10 trillion synapses. This is a vast computer network and nobody is quite sure how they all work together.

But all neurologists agree on one thing. The more active the brain cells, the more mentally alert and active we can remain. We can stave off Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other mental conditions. Use it or lose it. Interestingly enough, there is a higher rate of Alzheimers disease among those people who have never had much mental stimulation because they had a very poor education. In other words, their brains are not utilized to the full extent. Here are 10 simple ways, which are scientifically proven, to keep your brain active.

1. Physical exercise boosts your brain power

Hitting the gym is not just about those muscles or that trim waistline you crave. It is a lot more because the brain is also going to thrive. Look at the benefits for the brain when you exercise for about half an hour every day:

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  • More oxygen for all organs, including your brain
  • Release of hormones which help brain cells multiply
  • Improved memory
  • Brain processes information more efficiently.
  • Increases power of reasoning

2. Eat a healthy diet

Your brain needs the right foods to function properly. You can have a better memory, sharper focus and a longer attention span if you eat smart foods. Here are some examples to keep the brain in top condition:

  • Fish is the number one because it has lots of omega 3 fatty acids which really help the brain.
  • Ginseng
  • Caffeine
  • Dark chocolate
  • Berries
  • Whole grains
  • Fruit

3. You never stop learning

Let your brain slow down to a snail’s pace by not learning anything new. This is a recipe for disaster. Basically, you have to go on learning so you can start a new hobby, learn another language, get computer savvy, or start writing that novel. Those easy crosswords may not be enough as your brain needs a challenge. One expert has remarked that if you remain in your comfort zone, you may well be outside your enhancement zone.

4. Plan your brain fitness program

Anything which can get those brain cells making connections is what counts. You may want to vary the games and also the difficulty. If they are always too easy or you only choose Sudoku, then this may not be enough. Chess, scrabble, word games and more challenging quizzes need to be added into the mix. Researchers have found that brain fitness programs can add up to 10 years of optimal mental health.

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5. Try the spaced interval repetition technique

This program was developed by the University of Illinois and is basically software which tells you how you store information and remember it. It tailors your learning style so that you can learn and remember information much more efficiently. Great for students and retirees who are learning new skills.

6. Socialize more

Loneliness is a killer. There are now alarming statistics that show that loneliness drastically shortens life. If you can keep your social connections flourishing, it will help you live much longer. I am talking here about real social interaction and not just a virtual one like Facebook. One American study followed 2,000 older citizens. Those who were desperately lonely were twice as likely to die during the research period. Other studies show unequivocally that the more active you are socially, the more your brain functions better.

7. Think positive

I know. Every article you read says this. What should you think about when you are trying to survive in freezing water? The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration advises you to keep a positive attitude as this will significantly increase your chances of survival.  But can positive thinking really increase your mental alertness in more normal situations? Research shows that negativity interferes with alertness and mental clarity. Positive thinking puts you in the fast lane and your brain loves being happy!

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8. Avoid multitasking

People who multitask are wasting so much of their mental energy. It is like leaving all the lights on at home when you are using only one room. But try telling that to the people who drive and talk on their mobiles!

Studies done on over 1,000 office workers found that multitasking was worse than smoking marijuana or not getting enough sleep. Their IQ scores after the multitasking went down by 10 points. It makes sense because when you do this, you cannot prioritize and you cannot concentrate fully on one task. One reason is that this ‘infomania’ is taking over but it is also affecting mental clarity and alertness.

9. Get dressed in the dark

Have you tried getting dressed in a dark room?  If you have, you will know that you have to use different senses and you have to use quite a few of them, like touch, smell and hearing. Using all your senses (except sight) to get the task done is a great mental exercise.

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10. Get in the zone

Have you ever got so engrossed in a task that time no longer existed? It is a wonderful accomplishment and many experts have defined it as getting in the ‘zone’ or getting into the ‘flow’.

But the perfect alignment of mood, concentration and task achievement is very rare indeed. It really does illustrate that mental alertness can be maximized, if the conditions are right .

Daniel Goleman has written about this in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.  If you can perfect this technique, your mental ability will reach stellar levels.

How do you keep your mind alert and active? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: 1 in 5 – Really?/Mark Turnauckas via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

10 Reasons Why You’re Demotivated and How to Overcome It

10 Reasons Why You’re Demotivated and How to Overcome It

Being demotivated is arguably one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel as though you have no direction and, despite the fact that you are not getting any enjoyment out of getting nowhere, you feel no urgency or drive to make the effort to change your situation.

While this may seem like a bleak situation, fret not! Motivation is like money; even if you have none of it at the moment, you can always get some more!

If you’re reading this, you have most likely run into a wall of demotivation. If this is the case, let’s dive right into the reasons why you may be experiencing this and what actions you can take to get out of it.

1. You Are Working Without Purpose

The biggest reason why someone may be feeling demotivated is that they are living their lives without goals or intent.

If you’re living a life without purpose, you are bound to go through the motions without any sense of direction, feeling as though you are doing things simply for the sake of doing things rather than to work towards something that you want.

Sounds familiar?

Fortunately enough, demotivation that is caused by a lack of life purpose can be easily fixed. All you have to do to work on this demotivational factor is to figure out what it is you are looking for out of life and to establish specific, bite-sized, achievable goals that can help you to get there.

With a life plan you are passionate about, you’ll feel motivated in all aspects of your life quite quickly once more.

This article can help you find your purpose to work: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

2. Your Lack of Motivation Stems From Fear

When we fear progress, we refuse to move forward, becoming stuck at a certain point in our lives that allows us to only achieve so much on a daily basis. Whether this is an obstacle you have created for yourself in your professional life or your personal life, it becomes more difficult to break free of this cycle as each day passes. This, in turn, manifests into discontent and demotivation.

So, what can you do about this fear when it affects your motivation levels?

The first thing to do is to take note of the fact that you are putting off progress because you are afraid of a certain outcome.

Next, it is important to ask yourself what you are afraid of hearing in relation to your situation and whether or not that fear should really be stopping you from moving forward.

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Finally, you need to start chipping away at that fear step-by-step until you face it head on and conquer it.[1]

True that life can be scary at moments. But is there anything scarier than missing out on opportunities and not living your life to the fullest?

3. You’re Doing Things for the Wrong Reasons

Our body knows how to react in any given situation and the lack of motivation that has you down may be a direct result of what you are doing.

Ask yourself, is everything I do done for the right reasons?

Say, for example, that you are currently working a job that pays well but isn’t truly fulfilling. You know you are working for the financial stability and this keeps you there but it is not truly what you want to do. This slowly wears you down and, because the position provides no purpose for you, you don’t have any real motivation to continue on with the position.

This concept is applicable to all areas of life and, if you feel unmotivated, it is quite possible that you are doing things for the wrong reasons instead of doing things that fulfill you.

4. You Take on Too Much and Are Overwhelmed

It’s great to be ambitious and it is also perfectly fine to take on quite a bit of work and achieve as much as you can during the day. However, when you take on too much, you stretch yourself too thin and become burnt out rather quickly.

If you’re too overwhelmed by the many projects you are pursuing, you are less likely to want to do them. If you fall behind, you lose further motivation and you wind up not enjoying the tasks you are supposed to accomplish and lose the drive to see them through.

The key to staying motivated with anything is to take as much on as possible without making it unenjoyable. Being able to get through your day without feeling stressed and pressed for time goes a long way in helping you to keep your purpose and motivation intact.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is important that you learn better time-management skills and more about your limitations in order to craft a better schedule for yourself immediately.[2]

5. You May Be Dealing with Symptoms of a Mental Illness

Although mental illness symptoms are easy to spot for some, others can deal with a mental illness without ever suspecting it.

For example, there are plenty of professionals who deal with dysthymia for years, which is a low-grade form of depression that leaves the individual able to engage in their day but still provides the classic symptoms of fatigue and lack of motivation.

You may also be dealing with full-blown depression, which can result in hopelessness and a lack of enjoyment in daily activities. It also carries more severe consequences if left untreated.

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If you believe that you may be dealing with a mental illness, it is important that you seek for mental health assistance immediately to help reduce the severity of the symptoms and learn how to properly cope with the condition.

You are worth it!

6. Your Goals Are Too Big

Having goals is necessary to leading a purposeful life. However, it may be your goals that are actually at the source of your current motivation problem.

Do your goals look like this:

I want to launch my website and fill it with 100 blogs by the end of this year.

Rather than this:

I want to launch my website by the end of next month and write one blog each week for my new website.

The difference between the two goals is that one is far too large and vague while the other one is achievable and specific.

Think about your to-do list. Is it filled with endless tasks that seem impossible to tackle or is it filled with small steps that foster achievement and excite you when you finish them?

If your goals are too large and you are expecting too much from yourself, you are not going to motivated to chip away at that goal on a consistent basis. Smaller steps are much easier to accomplish and will keep you motivated to achieve the larger end goal.

Break it down and keep it simple! Learn how to set achievable and specific goals here: How SMART Goal Setting Makes Lasting Changes in Your Life

7. You’re Engaging in Self-Sabotage

Perhaps you feel that you don’t have the skills to see it through. Perhaps you think others don’t think you’re capable of achievement and are purposely sabotaging yourself and prevent yourself from moving forward.

In either case, your lack of motivation may be due to your desire to stunt your growth rather than to unleash and prove your greatness to the world.

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Why do you feel that you aren’t capable of what it is you seek to do? If it is the other way around, why do you feel as though others don’t think that you are capable?

Sit down and write down a list of your accomplishments, skills, and strengths. Once you see it written down, you can easily begin to see your own value.

Whether it is to prove someone wrong, to prove yourself right, or to simply shine, breaking through self-doubt or self-sabotage can help you to regain your motivation that is lost under these circumstances.

Learn how to overcome your self doubt in this article: How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

8. You Believe You Should Have Accomplished More by Now

With the exception of a rare few, a lot of people put pressure on themselves and put themselves down because they think that they haven’t accomplished enough out of all of the time that they have been alive.

It can be easy to get into this state of mind. But the past is the past and the only thing you are in control of is the future.

When you allow yourself to indulge in the past, you fall into the habit of giving up and going through the motions. This habit strips you of motivation and prevents you from making any progress whatsoever.

As the old saying goes,

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

You can’t expect to meet your life goals instantly. Instead, work hard each day and measure your progress. Each step forward is a step in the right direction.

Don’t give up!

9. You Have a Habit of NOT Doing Anything

It can be hard to hear but some people are just one of those individuals who do absolutely nothing on a daily basis.

They have plenty of tasks and potential but they choose to not do it simply because they don’t feel like it. And when they finally sit down to take responsibility and move forward, they wonder why they feel demotivated and have such difficulty getting things done.

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The truth is that getting your life together is hard. You are going to have to do a lot of things you don’t enjoy to get back on track and live the life you want.

Sit down, show up, and do what you must in order to get to where you want.[3]

Lifehack’s CEO has some unique advice on this: How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

10. You’re Settling and Refusing to Push Your Limits

On the opposite spectrum of overwhelm is underwhelm. Underwhelm begins to set in when you are settling on accomplishing less rather than pushing your limits and doing what you know you are perfectly capable of handling.

This choice to not do what you are able to and push your limits can cause a lack of motivation as you are consciously deciding to settle for less and stay in mediocrity rather than moving forward and accomplishing more.

It’s something that we all do when we start to feel a little lazy or tired but it is up to you to hold yourself accountable.

If you can make it happen, it is up to you to make sure that you follow through.

Still doubt if it’s better to push your limits? This will change your mind: Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

The Bottom Line

Even the best of us become demotivated but it is necessary that we get back our drive to push forward and live our best lives.

Using these 10 points, you are guaranteed to find the reasons behind your lack of motivation and the next steps you need to take to recover that drive and passion.

Featured photo credit: S O C I A L . C U T via unsplash.com

Reference

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