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Monday, April 20, 2020

Don’t quarantine your brain

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Five tips to creatively exercise your mind

As an intimate part of your body, the brain reacts to everything that is going on, including emotionally, physically and cognitively. Our goal is to calm our brain despite the pandemonium around us using known methods of prayer, meditation, quiet focus, centering, etc. It is essential to provide the right nutrition such as sunshine, which gives us Vitamin D, healthy foods and hydration, which enhances the ability of our brains to do the necessary tasks that affect our cognition engines. So while we quarantine our bodies, let’s not suppress our brainpower. Here are a few tips to keep you sharp and ready for the days and weeks ahead:

Tip No. 1: Count to joy! Focus on positives and gratitude. When the doldrums hit you, kick in the logic part of your brain by counting from 1-26 at the same time as you are saying the alphabet. This task switching will increase the load of cognitive function and will make your brain more versatile and better at the multi-tasking we all need to do these days. Here we go: 1A … 2B … 3C … Continue, then try it backwards. Now find five things you like about your day/situation/ persons around you … and SMILE!

Tip No. 2: Picture this! Visually processing the things that need to be done in the order/path of doing them before you do them makes the planning/organizational side of your brain more efficient. Not only does it force you to sit and think, but this planning makes the process of accomplishment more productive and wastes less time. Here goes: When I get up, I first need to (visualize your path/day). By creating this virtual map, you will spend less time forgetting why you went into a particular room or area as you already pictured it in your mind.

Tip No. 3: Make the brain hum! Humming is exceptionally good for the brain, and if you make up the words to rhyme as you go, even better. This process allows the mind to calm and focus on the auditory side of thoughts so that you might be a better listener, and the rhyming can even help with the reading/verbal parts of the cognitive function. Let’s hum a little tune; “Here we go round the mulberry bush …” Now continue humming and create rhyming words with hot: “Here we go round the hot dot shot ...” And laugh a little – laughter is great medicine.

Tip No. 4: Stretchy neurons! Do some physical stretching of those tight muscles like you are in physical therapy and imagine yourself on a beach getting ready to sun or surf. Describe the waves to yourself: What do they sound like? What smells surround you? Use those senses to stretch the brain while you stretch the body. Who’s ready to go surfing now?

Tip No. 5: Speedy synapses! Processing speed is critical to the ability to cognitive flexibility, so to make those synapses win the race, try a little retrieval fluency exercise while snapping or clapping. Might want to do this where others are not watching as it is contagious, and they might join you. Ready? Here we go. Name as many colors as you can while snapping as fast as you can. Name as many fruits as you can in alphabetical order while clapping your hands. How did you do? Now make a game of it with the family. The young ones can jump up and down while listing all the books of the Bible in order, or citing the names of family members from eldest to youngest.

How do you feel now that your brain has kicked in? Now it’s time to start again! (Bet you are smiling now – maybe even laughing a bit.)

Donesa Walker, M.Ed. BCCS, is owner of LearningRx and The BrainTrain Learning Solutions. For more tips/games or insights, call 318-797-8523 or email: Shreveport.la@learningrx.net to get our free game pack sent to you digitally or book an online assessment of your skills.

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