Wouldn’t it be nice to shake off that pesky brain fog that’s been holding you back? The amazing thing: It’s so easy to do once you know how! Here are six simple ways to boost your brain!
Heighten focus by buddying up.
One way to ensure you get outside for your afternoon stroll: Enlist a friend to walk with, whether you’re sharing the same path or checking in over the phone. Stanford scientists found that when people knew others were doing the same task, even if they weren’t physically together, they experienced less brain fog and plugged away at challenges up to 64 percent longer than those going at it solo. Researchers explain that feeling like you’re part of a team working toward a common goal spurs motivation, which heightens attention.
Or sip lemonade! Researchers in Singapore found that simply stepping away from a task for 10 minutes, whether to sip lemonade or water your plants, speeds the release of focus-enhancing dopamine for a mental pick-me-up.
Send creativity soaring by pretending you’re a famous writer.
When you’re stuck trying to figure out the solution to a problem, imagine you’re a genius poet, like Maya Angelou, or an eccentric inventor, like Albert Einstein. Research in the journal PLOS ONE found that picturing yourself as someone inventive shakes off brain blocks that hamper creativity. The result: You’re significantly more likely to come up with out-of-the-box ideas.
Stay sunny by visiting a dog park.
With warm weather finally here, take advantage of the beautiful days to head to a local dog park or nature preserve. Japanese scientists say that watching adorable animals play lights up the reward center of your brain, so you feel more joyful in seconds. What’s more, it shifts your attention away from worries and onto the happy details in front of you, like the way pups playfully wrestle, which is guaranteed to make you grin.
Or dip into peanut butter! Yum! Spreading peanut butter on apple slices or warm toast delivers enzymes that help your body churn out more mood-boosting serotonin, Stanford researchers report. This helps shake off that lingering “winter blah” feeling in 20 minutes. Bonus: Healthy fats in nut butter reduce mood-sapping blood-sugar swings by 40 percent, so you stay upbeat all day.
Foster hope by sending a card.
Popping a “thinking of you” card in the mail to your sister or sending an encouraging text to your friend not only brightens her day, it makes you feel sunnier and lift your brain fog, too. Psychologist Dacher Keltner, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, says that when we send positive thoughts to others, it activates the parts of our mind that produce feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. The payoff: You feel as uplifted as if you’d received well wishes yourself!
Or remember a win! Recalling a time something went exactly the way you wished it would increases feelings of joy and hope, according to researchers reporting in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
Boost productivity by cracking a window.
Next time you’re struggling to concentrate, let in a fresh spring breeze. Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York found that folks who listened to nature sounds were noticeably more productive than those who sat in silence. The balance between patterned sounds (like a constant breeze) and stray sounds (like birdsong) is a combo proven to boost your brainpower.
Or make a wish! Try this: Inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth as if blowing on a dandelion. Canadian scientists say 2 minutes of deep breathing ups productivity by as much as 65 percent.
Sharpen recall by doodling daisies.
Here’s a fun trick to hold on to vivid memories of planting a garden with your grandkids: Doodle what you did, like drawing a flower or a watering can. Canadian scientists say sketching helps you recall twice as many details later on than if you hadn’t picked up a pen. Because drawing requires both visual and motor skills, it locks in information in two ways so it “sticks.”
Or look left! Then right, then left… Moving your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds improves recall by up to 42 percent for 1 hour, UK scientists say. It boosts communication between brain cells to help jog your memory.
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