8 Unusual Ways to Jumpstart Your Brainby Carissa - October 8th, 2014
We all have those moments… You know the ones. Where you have a million things to do and your brain decides to take that moment to be uncooperative. Generally speaking, it happens even to the most devoted. Research has shown that the majority of us tend to try to strong-arm our way through – pushing our minds past their limits. We skip lunch breaks, don’t stop for a breather, or even get enough sleep to make our minds perform at peak.
What we don’t realize is these habits actually hinder us more than they help us in the way of being productive. Memory fails, productivity drops, and in the long run, our overall performance suffers. So what do we do when we have too much that needs to be accomplished, but not enough time to do it in?
Look no further. We have 8 unusual life-hacks to help you jumpstart your brain, and get you back on track.
1. Surround yourself in nature.This one is probably our most obvious, but I think I can make it a bit more unusual for you. Not only could you take a few minutes off your lunch break to take a stroll in nature, or visit a local park – but if you work from home, consider working outside. You don’t have to find yourself in the middle of the woods (though you certainly could!). Instead, try sitting on your patio, at your picnic table, or under your gazebo, etc. Any outdoor area that allows you a similar space to what you need indoors. Sometimes, just the change of scenery is enough to get your brain going in a more productive direction. This has helped me countless times when the dreaded writer’s block has reared its ugly head. In addition to the change, studies have shown that working in nature can reduce your blood pressure, and relax your overtaxed brain to manage the tasks at hand.
2. Talk to yourself.Yes, you read that right. Many of us, when we’re alone at least, will talk to ourselves when we’re engrossed in a problem. That’s because your brain actually responds to the vocal stimulus. It helps you to pay attention, steadies you emotionally, and depending on your self-talk, cues you to act. So while it might seem a bit odd to be walking down the aisle at your local Wal-Mart muttering about what’s next on your shopping list, remind yourself that you’re really just helping your brain stay focused.
3. Write something...with a pen. When we’re learning something particularly difficult, it helps to write out what you’ve learned. But you can forget typing it into Word, or texting yourself. Grab a pen and piece of paper and do it the retro way. For those of you my age and older, this might still be the way you handle some of your communication tasks, but for the younger generations, I often wonder if they know what a pen even looks like. However, it’s time to bring it back in style. Research suggests that by utilizing the hand-eye coordination required in writing via pen/pencil, you are more likely to remember what’s been written and have better memory recall because of it. **Added bonus: Speak what you’re writing while you’re actually writing it down for even more memory power.
4. Chew gum.This one might seem strange. I know it did to me when I was researching ways to keep your mind keen. Here’s the gist: a study held at Cardiff University in Great Britain found that gum chewers outperformed their non-chewing peers in two studies involving auditory pattern and visual memory tests. The theory is that exercising the jaw increases blood flow regions of the brain that are responsible for attention span. According to the study, the longer you chew, the better the benefit. So why not give it a try?
5. Mix up your routine.The doldrums of a tedious routine are the staples for productivity killing. Trust me. Sometimes your brain just needs a change in pace. If you find yourself in the afternoon slump and in need of a boost, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, try picking up and working from a new location? If you generally work on the same task at the same time every day, swap it around and try it at a new time, or a different day. Do you usually workout to a DVD? Try jogging outside. Normally drink soda? Drop it for some herbal tea. See where this is going? Pick something in your routine that is manageable to change around and do it. Your brain will thank you.
6. Translate your problem/question into another language.Sometimes we get so stuck on the inertia of a task at hand, that we often miss some of the blatantly easy aspects staring us in the face. One way to push past this is by allowing your brain a change in pace. You don’t have to be a master at a second language (or even know one!) to make this work. Take the problem you’re facing and translate it into a different language. Use the Google translator to help you, if you need it. Just by writing out your question, or a few sentences surrounding your task in a new language gives your brain a break from the way it was working to focus from a new angle. Often times, the shift is just enough to get you back on track.
7. Zone out.This can take form in a few different ways. We forget that our brains work so hard all day (and night!) long, and that means they sometimes need a rest in order to be more efficient. Making time in your day (20 minutes each day would do) to meditate, nap, or be purposefully mindful of the now, are great ways to zone yourself out of the problems of life and let your brain relax. Another way to zone out is through art, music, and reading. Find something that allows your brain to quiet down, envision something new and/or escape.
8. Walk away.When all else fails and you’re on the verge of needing a weave put in due to pulling your hair out – get up off your butt and walk away. Much like when you’re in the middle of a heated argument that is going nowhere fast. Stop dead in your tracks, shift gears, and go elsewhere. The abrupt change could be enough to jolt your mind. In fact, while you walk away from whatever it is you’re doing – why not actually walk away. Take a walk. Kill three birds with one stone and find yourself outside enjoying nature, taking a break, and getting some exercise. All of which is known to boost your brainpower, concentration, and creativity.
Do you have any of your own tips and tricks to keep your mind focused and on track? If so, leave us a comment in the section below or give us a shout-out on Twitter.
Carissa Andrews is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.
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