Give your brain a break: These habits help

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To keep our grey matter healthy, we need more than just a good night’s sleep or a nap. These habits help the brain to recover properly.

Getting a good night’s sleep, taking a nap at lunchtime, or lounging on the sofa for hours are popular ways to recover from a stressful working day. While these activities relax our bodies, our brains need even more. After all, we live in a world in which we subconsciously expose our brains to constant hectic, sensory overload, and stress. This has a negative impact not only on our ability to concentrate, think cognitively, and be creative but also on our mental health.

Although sufficient sleep is essential for the health of our brain, this complex organ relaxes really well when we are active. Everyone should incorporate these habits into their daily routine.

Active relaxation
Our brain is not infinitely receptive and needs a break from time to time to be able to process newly learned information in peace. Breaks from exercise help with fatigue and improve our ability to concentrate. Why is that? During sport or a walk, brain activity is directed to the movement center and the area for logical thinking is relieved, allowing it to relax. Exercise also stimulates blood flow to the brain, which is better supplied with nutrients and oxygen. Although the body is exerted, the brain can relax better through activity than through a sofa break in front of the TV.

Whether it’s drawing, pottery, playing the piano, or birdwatching, engaging in hobbies that have nothing to do with your job relaxes the brain immensely. Small experiences of success release dopamine in the brain. In addition, hobbies create a certain routine that the brain likes. Studies also show that certain hobbies can help keep the brain fit in old age and minimize the risk of developing dementia.

Making a dentist appointment, calling the boss, writing an email to a colleague, and taking out the garbage—to-do lists are helpful when it comes to not forgetting anything. However, such endlessly long and task-packed lists can overwhelm the brain. In his book “Do Pause: You Are Not a To-Do List,” US author Robert Poynton therefore suggests replacing the to-do list with a “today” list: a list that only contains the tasks that need to be completed today.

Incorporate micro-breaks into the day.
There is often not much time for long breaks in hectic everyday life. It is, therefore, all the more important to take a so-called “micro-break” every now and then. These last at least a few seconds and a maximum of ten minutes and are designed to increase concentration. It’s enough to look out of the window at the coffee machine for a few seconds, take three deep breaths in and out before the next meeting, or regularly stretch out at your desk.

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