Keep Your Mind Active When You are Not Doing Anything
Do you feel like you have a lazy brain? Do you have so many automatic processes that every time you need to think a little harder on something, is it painful? Well, you most certainly are not the only one, and there is a way of fixing it.
I started feeling like my brain was not the same a few years ago. It felt like it was progressing slowly from forgetting my keys up to not being able to focus. My mood also changed over this; I spent my days more stressed trying to keep up with everything. Even though I didn’t hold any family conditions history, I confess this scared me a lot.
I noticed most people nowadays show off their fitness routine, as going to the gym, marathons and keeping a balanced diet. But what about mental health? Well, I have learned that our brain, like our body, needs to be in constant activity, so it doesn’t get rusted or out of shape. A healthy brain will help you hold off some degenerative diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer. It can also improve memory, overall health, and even boost emotional well-being
Some benefits of keeping an active mind:
• Sharper senses
• Increase focus and concentration
• Better and positive mood
• Motivation and productivity boost
• Enhance creativity and intelligence
• Less stress
After several types of research and readings, I have found some interesting exercises to put on practice that I would like to share with you. Some of them are just perfect for those who have a busy agenda and needs to manage all free time carefully.
But, before you jump in and start trying all exercises at once, it is necessary to remember results don’t come instantly, it will need some time of practice. I have dedicated some minutes of my every day for it; otherwise, it wouldn’t have worked. Exercising the brain is like going to the gym; you won’t feel the difference with just one visit to the treadmill.
1. Connect with people
According to scientists, a strong social tie can help to avoid dementia risks. A study published on Elsevier Journal by the University Medical Center Groningen presented high risks of dementia incidents on people who had a lack of social interaction, a substantial risk comparable to other factors such as low education, physical inactivity, and depression.
We often get caught up with work and forget how to have some fun and take better care of ourselves. Remember you should not leave your social life behind, hang around with your friends and connect with your family.
2. Physical Exercises
You can choose either the gym or a peacefully yoga studio. Over the past 20 years, scientists are continuing to show how physical activity can have profound effects on our brain, such as hippocampus volume increase, development of new neurons, better infiltration of blood vessels into the brain and a great practice against depression and anxiety.
According to a Harvard article, exercising also helps your memory and thinking. Also, a study released by Cambridge University concluded that participants who practiced yoga had better physical and mental health than those who did not. The research also showed that the yoga-trainers presented other health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, reduced respiration rate, strengthened cardiopulmonary fitness, enhanced body flexibility, improved muscle strength, endurance, balance, and joints motion.
If you are a sedentary person, remember to start exercising slowly and seek for some trainer who will help you how to do it without getting hurt. Exercises are great, but you should be careful about how you do it, or it can cause more serious injuries.
3. Find new Activities and Hobbies
Get out from of comfort zone. As you challenge yourself to absorb new concepts, you will be exercising your brain on retention of information and memorization. Maybe you can start that cooking class you have been interested in, learn a new language you have always wanted, or take a painting course. And even though it looks tough at the beginning, don’t give up. Your brain takes a while to adjust with new skills, but compensation will come in the near future.
These projects will help you connect with other people, and keep your brain active.
4. Have a good night of Sleep
During your sleep, the brain is synthesizing new ideas and memorizing old ones. Your body might be in a resting position, but your brain is working to keep up the house in order. Maybe you have watched the Inside Out movie? Even though it’s a kid’s content, it helps to illustrate a little bit of what happens inside this fantastic part of your body. It is always working to associate feelings, sensory triggers, and information.
The Sleep Foundation, an organization, specialized on sleeping habits, says the sleep strengthens connections between cells, solidify memories, and transfer data between brain regions. The science of sleep is still an unknown area, although some parts of it have been already exposed by researchers. Some studies even claim the brain can learn while sleeping, with an association learning process.
Having a good night sleep besides giving you a well-rested mind during the day, can definitely help you focus, learn and remember information, and to be creative.
5. Maintain a Balanced Diet
Some health conditions can impact your cognitive skills, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, depression, and hypothyroidism. A diet low in saturated and trans fats can help you keep your body healthier; therefore, enhance your memory and brain capacity.
6. Add Supplements
Even though you have a balanced diet, exercise and so on, your body needs some extra help for proper functioning. That’s when healthy supplements can come and assist. Nootropics are among the preferred supplements available nowadays. If you have never heard this term before, it is also known as smart-drugs, made of natural and synthetic substances prescribed to enhance mental function. They can be used for motivation, memory and learning boost, as well for a sharper focus.
You can find the one that best fits your needs, as there are several types of them in the market. Some have been tested, others not, therefore it is important you research and ask for a doctor’s assessment. Although these drugs have a different application, all of them aim to improve cognition; while assisting people in overcoming anxiety and depression, issues that often affect the brain’s ability to function at its best capacity.
7. Escape routine
You wake up every day, put your right (or left foot) on the ground, make some coffee, brush your teeth… all in auto-pilot. If you change your daily routine, it will force you to think about what you are doing before actually doing it. And this helps to keep your mind sharper. You can try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, switch around your morning activities, and turn familiar objects upside down. These changes will not only help your memory as they will boost your creativity.
8. Brain workouts
Besides escaping your routine, other activities can help you exercise your brain. According to John E. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young, trying to remember your groceries list and games like Sudoku, puzzles and even comic strips can help to sharpen your mental skills.
9. Keep it active all times
Dr. Richard Restak, clinical professor of neurology at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health Sciences offer some additional tips on how to keep your mind sharp.
a. Playing video games improves eye-hand coordination and spatial visualization skills.
b. Learning a new word every day enhances the brain’s language centers.
c. Spelling exercises also will exercise language-related brain areas.
d. Monitoring your mood helps you changing your brain activity, from negative to positive thoughts and scenarios.
e. Manual work not only helps with dexterity but also your brain functioning.
So, even if you are stuck on transit or waiting on a line, you can practice some of these exercises.
The brain is the most complex part of our body, which is under constant study and research. Scientists and doctors could not decipher yet all the mysteries this amazing organ holds, and many further studies promise to bring surprising and marvelous answers.
It is proved our brain loses some of its mass and potential as we age, but doesn’t necessarily means we can’t fight back. It is never too late to start enhancing your capabilities and skills, and if you have any medical history, it is recommended to find a doctor to help you through this process. Many degenerative diseases can be delayed for some years, with a proper diagnosis and treatment.
I really hope these tips can help you, as much as it helped me, and boost your capacity.
Start exercising now, and if you have trouble with procrastinating, you can also find a post here, about 40 super-effective tips against procrastination.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES – ARTICLE BASED
About the Author
Steven Sanders is a fitness enthusiast, lifestyle coach, father and traveler. He writes for blogs he finds informative as well as for Nootropic Underground.