As writers, we’re all about endurance – sustaining our stamina and staying focused. Here are a few quick, easy ways to keep ourselves energized through the day:*
Just breathe: One result of staying indoors and busily punching the keys of our computers: shallow breathing that makes us sleepy because it allows carbon monoxide to build up in our bloodstream. The simple solution? Take a brain break! When you start feeling drowsy and frowsy, just stop whatever you’re doing for two minutes and reboot. Sit up straight, close your eyes, and take slow, deep belly breaths. Experts say this 2-minute pause refreshes instantly – it boosts your body’s intake of energizing oxygen by 30%.
Treat yourself: Love this one! A study in the journal Cognition & Emotion found that giving yourself a happiness-boosting treat – say a piece of chocolate – releases dopamine, which hels enhance your brain’s decision-making ability.
Switch hands: Fascinating finding from the University of Waterloo in Canada – using your non-dominant hand can clear brain fog in 60 seconds! Doing a familiar task – like opening a door or watering a plant – with the hand you use least often actually can challenge your brain. This spurs the release of a compound that enhances focus and alertness by 45%.
Tune up: Before tackling a new task, you can prime yourself for success by pulling up a playlist or cranking up a CD. Research in the journal Scientific Reports found that listening to music for 20 minutes boosts activity in the brain’s memory center.
Viva vino: There are lots of studies supporting that pouring yourself a glass of wine a day has many health benefits. Here’s another: French researchers (who surely know about wine!) say that enjoying a 6-ounce glass of wine daily revs up the body’s ability to produce a hormone that repairs worn-out neurons and helps form new connections in the brain, all of which offsets brain shrinkage and lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 55%.
Read a book: What better RX for a writer? Not surprising, research shows that spending an hour daily (all at once or throughout the day) with a hobby that engages your mind, like reading or doing puzzles, keeps your brain supple. Mentally energizing activities induce the brain to release a nerve growth factor (and anti-aging compound) that spurs the growth of healthy brain cells. So say a band of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.
OK, let’s all breathe deeply today, trying switching hands, and move to the music. And after a satisfying day’s work, we can boost those little gray cells by reading a great book and sipping some wine – one of my favorite things to do on my porch in the summer. Write on!
*Our brain-boosting tips come to us via Woman’s World (February 18, 2019)
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