Face it; the winter is not just hard on your car. Our bodies and minds go through the wringer during the dark, cold months of winter. It is often hard to make the transition into spring and be energized for the upcoming season of family vacations, swimming pools, and the endless backyard barbeques. Here are just a few ways to recharge your mind and body for spring that won’t break the bank.
Most people love listening to music while they work or on their commute, but new research tells us that going to concerts on a regular basis can increase your life expectancy by nearly a decade. [Read more…]
If it feels like an increasing number of older people have Alzheimer’s or dementia these days, you’re not imagining things. One in three seniors in the United States dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. That means it kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. But a new study suggests that late-term dementia, the most common form of dementia, might be caused, in part, by mid-life anxiety. The logic follows, then, that reducing anxiety, especially in mid-life, can reduce your chances of developing dementia as you age. [Read more…]
You may not think about it much, but your mind really does matter. In fact, the health of your mind is so integrally tied to your overall health that it should never be ignored. How clear are your thoughts? Do things seem to get lost up there – fall into some black hole and become unretrievable? Do you lose your train of thought often, have problems computing simple problems or actually drop words from sentences? If so, you are not alone. We live in a crazy busy culture and most people don’t allow a whole lot of time for matters of the mind.
Sure, you may be acquiring tons of information on a daily basis but sooner or later your storage space up top is going to start to overfill. This is where these great mind hacks come into play. Clearing your mind, freeing up space is essential to your mental health and overall wellbeing.
These hacks are easy and effective… trust me, I have a very busy, very full mind. Once I learned how to dump and clear space, I felt 100% better about life in general.
Takeaway: Although you can’t see your mind, you must make time to keep it healthy or the rest of you will suffer.
Here are some things you can do right now to supercharge your mind!
Take 5 minutes to relax. When we follow simple steps to elicit the body’s relaxation response, it offers many measurable effects, including lowering blood pressure and pulse rate and even achieving a better sense of mental well-being. Many people think five minutes spent relaxing is five minutes wasted, but taking that short amount of time to de-stress the mind each day will not only leave you feeling calmer and ready to face the challenges and responsibilities that still await but with more energy to get those tasks done. You don’t need to go to a retreat, five minutes of deep breathing is all it takes to reap the benefits of relaxation. Close your office door or find a comfortable spot in a quiet place to concentrate on taking deep, slow breaths, breathing in for a count of five, holding for a count of three and breathing out for a count of five. Before you know it, stress begins to melt away. And as stress can impair centers in the brain involved in memory and learning, a less-stressed state will leave you with a healthier mind.
Banish your cell phone from the bedroom. A lack of sleep can result in many detrimental effects. If you’re sleep deprived, you’re at greater risk for serious health problems, including diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, as well as causing harm to the mind as sleep is crucial for the brain’s ability to learn and remember. Without enough sleep, the brain becomes foggy, judgment poor and fine motor skills are hindered. So what does this have to do with your cell phone? In recent years, researchers have found that chronic sleep deprivation is linked to these devices that are often brought into our sleep space. That artificial light that’s emitted from cell phones, tablets, computers and the like, prevent us from feeling sleepy. If they’re kept with us right up until bedtime and then kept in the bedroom, it affects both the quality of sleep and the ability to fall asleep in the first place, as it disrupts the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep.
Be present in the moment. Most of us continue to define and live our lives according to things that happened in the past, and what may or may not happen in the future. But eliminating those thoughts and focusing all of your attention on the present moment can not only make you feel happier, it can change the brain in a protective way, resulting in a healthier mind. Researchers from the University of Oregon found that meditation techniques like integrative body-mind practice can cause changes in the brain they may protect against mental illness. While being present in the moment can be easier said than done, is to meditate; stop and take a deep breath when you begin to worry about the past or the future and be grateful for what you have right now.
Keep your brain challenged. Like the body, the brain also needs to be kept in tip-top shape to perform at its optimum level. It’s just like a muscle, the more it’s used, the stronger it will get. There are lots of ways to do it, like solving lateral thinking puzzles which demand a creative approach, an open mind and the ability to come up with a variety of potential answers before determining the right one. You could also learn a new language or learn to play an instrument. When you learn something completely new, you increase the production of new brain cells. Reading helps to do the same, exercising cognitive skills to build your vocabulary as well as obtaining new information to use for future conversations with friends. Traveling to a new destination challenges the brain in a number of ways, from adapting to new situations, challenges, meeting new people and navigating unfamiliar roads.
Take a whiff of sandalwood or frankincense. Just taking in the scent of some essential oils can be good for the brain – it doesn’t get much easier than that! The author of The Brain Wash, Michelle Schoffro Cook, a doctor of natural medicine said in regard to sandalwood’s benefits that its natural scent has a “direct pathway to the brain and research shows that some chemical constituents of aromatherapy oils, particularly sesquiterpenes (a chemical compound found naturally in plants) can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase oxygen flow to the brain.” When the brain gets an oxygen boost, that increases energy levels, improves immune function, results in better learning and more positive moods. Sandalwood and Frankincense are two essential oils known to be especially effective at increasing the brain’s oxygen levels. Sandalwood is also known to improve mental clarity and focus by applying a few drops to the ankles or wrists at times of high stress or inhaling it several times a day.