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Boost Your Brain 5-Day Challenge

Mental health has shifted over the last two years creating unexpected challenges for most of us. Some of us fear being out in a crowd or even going back to the office feels daunting or exhausting. It is awkward being in social situations again and we might even prefer to stay home. Zoom and online meetings continue, with us staring into the blue light of the screen, exhausting us further.

 

It is important to have a way to regularly connect with your brain, your body, and your thoughts in order to slow them down, get clarity and have moments of peace within the chaos of today’s world. Stepping away from the screen for tiny moments throughout the day will support you more than you expect.

You can think about this practice as exercises for your brain that take just minutes a day to do. Like flexing a muscle, you can change the patterns of thinking and live in a more intentional and grounded way.

 

  1. For 5 days explore one of these Brain Boosting activities (you have 10 exercises to choose from.)
  2. Reflect and keep notes on a scratch pad or in your phone. Ask yourself, how do I feel before and how do I feel after?
  3. Identify one or two exercises that fits into your unique lifestyle and feel supportive.

After the challenge, consider adding one of these exercises to your daily routine.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

 

(5 Minutes)

Meditation is taking a moment to focus only on one thing while breathing intentionally and connecting with your body. The benefits start by calming your nervous system and if you practice enough, you can change the way different parts of the brain communicate with each other i.e. better performance.

  1. You can do this literally anywhere.
  2. With your eyes open or closed (easier when closed.)
  3. Start by controlling your breathing… and breathe in deep to the count of 3 and breathe out to the count of 4.
  4. Then check in with how your body feels. Is there tension anywhere, is there pain, is your body tired or are you feeling great?
  5. Bring your attention back to your breath. And continue to count with the breaths.
  6. Voila… you have just meditated!

Guided Meditation Resources:

If you want to be guided, because it is difficult to concentrate, try downloading one of these which focuses on different themes.

Self-Compassion Meditations with Kristin Neff

https://self-compassion.org/guided-self-compassion-meditations-mp3-2/

Various Meditations with Tara Brach

https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

 

(5 Minutes)

We hold a lot in our heads and our bodies. We constantly consume… think about social media, Netflix, books, conversations, meeting content and even our environments. Consider your office energy. When do you ever let it all out?

Journaling isn’t about writing your deepest darkest secrets on paper. This is about connecting your hand to pen to paper and letting the thoughts, words and emotions flow out of you.

 

Option 1) Get a blank piece of paper and free write whatever is on your mind. No filter.

OR

Option 2) Before you go to bed at night answer these questions (5-minute Journal)

  • What happened today that I am grateful for?
  • What is on my mind right now?
  • What is the best thing that happened today?
Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

 

This is the easiest way to rid your body of stress, negative emotions, and bad vibes. It is like hitting the reset button. You gain a fresh mind, lubricate your joints and you let go.

We do not often prioritize exercise or movement every day. My challenge to you is get moving for at least 5 minutes and figure out how to do it every day to feel its benefit enough to want to do it more.

Take a minimum of 5 minutes to move. Choose option A or B.

  • Go for a walk outside
  • Stretch your body at your desk
  • Kitchen Disco: Dance in your kitchen with the radio on loud

 

3-Minute easy dance routine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6wm2g682JM

5-Minute Morning Yoga

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C-gxOE0j7s

5-Minute Stretch at Work

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO2U5VH1Fn4

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

We spend so much time in offices, homes and in cities i.e. artificial environments. Did you know that plants give us fresh air that in turn gives us comfort to our bodies? By being in nature it creates space for reflection and allows for new perspectives to arrive. Why not try it out and see how your body and mind feels?

  • Set aside 15 or 30 minutes. (You can do more if you want.)
  • Go to a wooded forest or green space.
  • Walk with your eyes looking forward at eye level (not down on the floor.)
  • Sit amongst the trees and notice them.
  • Take a moment, to see how your body feels in this environment.
  • Breathe.

  • Botanical Garden
  • Park with trees, grass, or flowers
  • A plant nursery in a shop
Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

 

Fat is not the enemy! Our brain is made up of 60 percent fat (after you take the water out.) The key is to consume omega-3 fatty acids (also known as DHA/EPA*) which you can find in certain fruit, nuts, and seeds as well in some fatty fish.

 

 

  1. Decide if you want to A) add healthy fats to your diet or B) supplement.
  2. I recommend food first and plant-based where possible, but sometimes supplementation is just easier.

 

  • Add walnuts and flaxseeds to your breakfast routine, lunch salad or snack.
  • Discover chia seed pudding.
  • Explore the amazing taste of the trendy avocado toast.
  • Find an organic sustainable sourced Salmon steak and enjoy once a week.

  •  Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or health expert about what your goals are to see what supplement they would recommend.
  • There are Omega supplements sourced from plants and algae while others are sourced from fatty fish.
  • If you are curious, before your start, do a full blood panel with your doctor to see if you are truly low in the major nutrients necessary for optimal healthy functioning of the body and brain.

* DHA contributes to maintenance of normal brain function. The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg of DHA.

Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

 

(more than 5 minutes)

Checking our phones is an addictive habit and an absolute distraction. Studies show that letting our phones interrupt us keeps us unfocused, scattered, and unhappy.

  • Choose a time. I recommend 7 p.m. till morning.
  • Turn off your phone and place it in another room or drawer where you can’t see it.
  • Make sure your most important people know that you are going phone free so they don’t freak out if they can’t reach you.

See what happens. How do you feel? What thoughts come to mind?

 

 

(5-15 minutes)

 

Get out of your normal routines to create some novelty! Go outside, walk, and get your face into the sunshine. This not only gives your brain a well-deserved break, it gets your body in motion, reduces the stress feeling and gives you a mini-reset in your day.

  • Get up, grab your jacket ,and get outside. No phone.
  • Walk for about 5-15 minutes with your face towards to sun.
  • Breathe.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

 

(Less than a minute)

When in a downward spiral or constantly in your inbox, stop and take a moment to realize that there is an outside world with people in it. Compassion is a great healer and connector of people.

Many of us are overwhelmed by the world’s current situation. Take a moment to smile and you will be amazed how good it makes you feel when you get a smile back.

Enjoy and have fun with this one.

 

1.     Put your phone away.

2.     Put away your “I have to do x, y, and z thoughts.”

3.     Get out of your head and when walking through the office or on the way to work, make eye contact with those you see.

4.     *SMILE*

5.     And breathe…

6.     Check in… how does that feel?

 

(5-minutes)

 

Our Facebook or Instagram feed can be filled with people who we love and yet say stupid things or go against what we believe in. Constantly being exposed to these messages alters how we think and eventually how we feel.

Un-follow those people who don’t inspire you.

You can still be “friends,” just not see their daily musings.

Develop stronger connections with those who inspire you. And… start following coaches, speakers, and people who you love how they talk and are doing the things you want to do. This gives you an extra boost and helps you to visualize a better more promising future.

 

1.     Un-follow those who don’t resonate with you.

2.     Define what you want to see more of (more health, more science, more fun, more love, more special cars, more art, whatever it is… there is a coach out there for it.)

3.     Follow them and watch your feed boom with positivity.

4.     See if this changes how you feel.

 

(24 hours)

 

Designed to be addictive by attention engineers, social media fragments your attention and can permanently weaken your ability to concentrate. This reduces your productivity at work and ability to connect with those your love.

Psychologically the more you use, the more likely you are to feel lonely. Since most people’s feeds are carefully curated, social media can keep you in constant comparison and eventually make you feel depressed.

Watch this to see how social media impacts us.

Quit Social Media with Cal Newport (learn about attention engineers!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E7hkPZ-HTk&t=

 

“Treat your attention with respect.” Cal Newport

1.     Turn off or log out of your social media apps.

2.     Turn off all notifications/email notifications.

3.     Put your phone where you cannot see it.

4.     Make it so that only important people can reach you.

5.     Consider how you would like to spend your time if you are not on social media.

6.     Reflect on how much time you lose on social.

7.     Do you feel withdrawals or anxiety when not connected on social?

Thanks for your interest in Boosting Your Brain!

There are so many things you can do to support mental health. Creating a daily practice can be fun and rewarding. Below is a list of resources to help you continue with your mental health journey.

 

 

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