Taking a Break for Improved Brain Health

Every so often we all need to give it a rest. To regroup or recharge, taking a break is essential.

What the experts say

Dr Sandra Chapman at University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth tells us that the Power of None, time spent with the goal of completely quieting your mind, leads to increased creativity. That means disconnecting from all technology, removing oneself from any conversations, refraining from reading or writing…literally spending time just BEing rather than DOing…is of benefit to the health of our brains. And, as a result, we will find ourselves open to greater possibilities.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Just as extra time is needed to relax after working on a big project or a runner takes time after a marathon to let his body recover, the brain needs R&R, as well.

Strategies for brain health

Some suggestions for giving your brain a rest might include:

  • Take a walk in nature. Give your senses permission to freely explore the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Take the time to touch the leaves or trees that draw you to them.
  • Practice mindful listening. Start with three deep, slow breaths to calm yourself. Close your eyes and simply list, in your mind, the sounds you hear, allowing yourself to repeat the names of sounds as needed.
  • Practice mindful breathing. Start with three deep, slow breaths to calm yourself. Then, silently, to yourself, count each inhale and each exhale as you breathe normally. You are not aiming for a specific number, but just want to pay attention to your breaths. Imagine each breath as it enters, travels through, and exits your body.
  • Engage in physical exercise. The increased oxygen that travels to your brain, as well as the release of hormones from your body, will result in multiple benefits for your brain.
  • Take a 20-minute break and notice how you are feeling. As in, how are you really feeling? Do a body scan to notice the sensations in each part of your body. Mentally start at the top of your head and work your way down your body to your toes, and then work your way back up again. Relax the parts of your body that feel tense, shake your arms, hands, or legs to help them loosen, and note the feel of fabrics or the air as they touch each part of your body.
  • If you are rushed or frazzled by the activities of your day, take the time to stop, take a few deep breaths, notice your heart rate and calm yourself. If you are late or overwhelmed, imagine the kindness you would show to someone else, and give that kindness to yourself.

All of these suggestions are a part of caring for yourself. We must realize that establishing a habit of self-care will positively impact us physically and emotionally. But it will also help keep our brains healthy. And, regardless of how long we live, maintaining a healthy brain is essential to maintaining a good quality of life.

 

Dr W

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