If you’re feeling fried and fuzzy, you’re not alone! These days, we’ve all got a lot on our plates. Beyond the usual struggles of maintaining jobs, families, love lives and social circles, we’re plugged in 24/7 – and most of that time is spent multi-tasking.
Between Blackberry-ing, IM-ing, emailing, Twittering, Facebooking (nevermind all the actual face-to-face, day-to-day living), it’s no wonder our brains don’t work as well as they should – or they used to. The good news is there are simple ways to refresh and renew your brain, helping to sharpen the skills you’ve already got and actually make you smarter.
Take these tips for exercising your mind, and according to researchers, you will notice a difference!
Kill cruise control
You may think that going to work everyday requires using your brain – and it does. However, the majority of us are on cruise control most of the time, living in a routine and even if we’re not, we’ve developed the skill set to solve problems as they arise in our standard environments. We’re adaptive creatures by nature and sometimes we adapt so much that we zone out without even realizing it – and that can slow down our brain activity. So, how about switching things up?
The mind likes a change, so much so that learning new things and doing new things, from the simple to the strange, will help generate new brain cells and increase mental acuity. Whether it’s doing crossword puzzles or sudoku, taking a road trip into uncharted territory or a different route each time you do your local errands, or (and this may sound silly) brushing your teeth (or hair) with your non-dominant hand, even the smallest effort can produce fantastic results. You’ll find yourself sharper – and quicker – in all situations. Believe it or not, some video games (those which require strategy) count! That said, don’t discount the burn out modern technology can cause, and allot your time accordingly!
With all your standard activity, it’s also likely your brain needs some rest! After all, if it’s constantly in use, you won’t grow smarter, you’ll grow increasingly exhausted. Tired brains don’t function well. It’s just that simple. You’ve got to give it a rest, as impossible as that may seem, otherwise, you’ll simply burn out!
For starters, take at least a little while each day to unplug. Put your phone/Blackberry away, turn off the computer and the television and just chill. If the silence is too much, listen to soothing music. Meditate. Just breathe. Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the need to constantly be working or “doing something” productive or otherwise.
Be conscious of the fact that you’re helping yourself by taking time to unwind your mind. If you want to, you can even have a catnap. Studies have shown that taking a breather at some point in the day is great for your thought process. Just don’t let it go over 45 minutes – then you’ll just get fuzzier.
On that same note, be sure you get adequate sleep each night. Prolonged lack of sleep (you know, anything under seven or eight hours) has exponentially detrimental effects on your brain’s ability to function.
Lastly, your brain needs blood-flow (oxygen) in order to stay healthy… Exercising your body is the best way to increase your brain’s oxygen levels, improving memory and increasing creativity. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week made a difference in test subjects. Do your body a little good, and you’ll help your brain in the process. After all, there is no denying the two are connected.
Meanwhile, eating foods that are rich in Omega 3s, like salmon, avocado and flax help to nourish your brain and improve its activity. Likewise, small amounts of caffeine (a strong cup of coffee or tea in the morning) does have its benefits. Be careful though, as consuming much more than that causes the detriments (nervousness, anxiousness, jitters) to outweigh the benefits.
And finally, a more esoteric (but ultimately rewarding) way to boost your brain-power is to focus on tuning up your intuition. By learning to interpret your body’s signals – what induces positive or negative feelings – you’ll find yourself reacting quicker, stronger and from your highest self more and more often. What’s smarter than that?
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