How to improve your memory and give your brain a break
Here’s an example of how the brain works. Have you ever been puzzling over a problem for what seems like an eternity, only to have the solution hit you in the face like a ton of bricks when you least expect it? I can’t count the number of times I have given myself a headache trying to remember where I left my cell phone (always when it’s on silent, of course) only to get busy doing something else and then bam! I can see the shelf in the pantry where I laid it when I was getting the dog’s food ready, and there it is! I have driven myself crazy trying to work through the right thing to do with friends or find a solution to a work issue only to have a flash of insight just as I’m drifting off to sleep.
There’s a reason you can solve problems and have great ideas when you are relaxed.
In the shower, just before sleep, or when you’re jogging: effort to solve problems involves a lot of brainpower. When you task your brain with a chore, it’s like standing in the middle of a busy train station with traffic going in and out, rushing around to make connections and categorize information. Throw in emotional energy of any kind and the hum of traffic turns into a deafening roar, so it’s no wonder you can’t hear the small voice of insights through all of that noise. And yet, we continually try to confront issues without even considering how our “cerebral congestion” might play a role in our ability to manage the things we must face.
Albert Einstein said it best: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” But that’s exactly what we do when we struggle to figure out what is best for ourselves when we make decisions during frenzied emotional states and don’t allow the insights to be heard over the roar of our personal thinking. Scientists are learning more and more about our brain’s “default mode network”, which is that state when we are resting but not asleep and can occur during meditation, daydreaming, or any time we are not focusing on an external task but just present at the moment. The default mode network isn’t just some excuse to sit around all day and stare at the clouds; it has scientifically been shown to help reduce stress, help with chronic pain, lessen the likelihood of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, and even increase creativity and productivity! As strange as it seems to daydream your way to better productivity, your brain is very active in helpful ways when you aren’t busy tasking it with your personal wants and needs. So when you give it a break, it gives you new ideas, fresh insight to whatever problems have been plaguing you, and access to creativity that you just can’t see when you’re stressed out or trying too hard.
Here’s how to give your brain a break and let that default mode take over:
- Stop attempting to solve all your problems. Put them down for a while instead of obsessing over what to do. Walking away allows you a chance to relax, and often a mental break is all you need to see it with fresh eyes.
- Stop doing so much at once. We live in a world of constant contact, multitasking our way through every task we have. We talk on the phone while we clean, conduct business meetings over the phone while working out at the gym, and parent our kids from behind our screens. In addition to a few of our multi-tasking ways being dangerous, running so many trains through the station at once can also lead to quick burnout. Studies show that multitasking doesn’t save time; it makes things take longer, and with more errors, so slow down!
- Take some time for yourself. It isn’t selfish to have a few minutes each day to meditate, pray, garden or just walk to unwind, relax and connect with yourself—you’ll be a better person for others if you do! Remember, an empty well can give no water, and the same is true for you!
- Watch the kids. Children are just present. They aren’t worried about Friday’s meeting or next month’s bills. They aren’t fretting over a future dinner party or rehashing last night’s arguments over laundry. They live in the moment, and that ability allows them to be fully there for whatever comes their way, which helps them absorb, learn and deal with it as it happens. We adults seem to feel naked without our cloak of worries and regrets, but the reality is worrying, and regretting has never solved anything. See how light and carefree it feels to shed that cloak for a day, and it will get harder and harder to put it back on…. so don’t!
- Breathe! Just taking 5 big breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth clears your mind, your mood and allows you to think clearly. It works every time.
The author highly recommends that you call us at 855-433-4480 for more information about how
Gulf Breeze Recovery could help you or your loved ones today.
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