4 Activities To Calm You Down And Smarten You Up
One of the worst things for your mental health is high levels of chronic stress. Stress creates a chain of reactions both in the body and in the brain that cause many serious physical issues as well as causing anxiety, depression and a deterioration of the problem-solving and logical processes in the brain. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to engage in activities that strengthen the mind while simultaneously helping you to relax. There are a lot of simple and enjoyable activities that are easily accessible to choose from.
Just about any form of exercise that you do on a regular basis has the potential to positively affect your physical and mental well-being. But when you add the requirement that an activity should be relaxing as well, that narrows the field, so don’t run out to your local Rawlings sporting goods store just yet. Meditative physical practices such as yoga, qigong and tai chi foster high levels of relaxation, offer all the benefits of exercise and also require mental focus and deep breathing. None of these ancient practices require extensive equipment and they can be learned in the privacy of your own home through video or streaming services.
Games are great brain exercises, but you need to be careful of your choices. Some games like chess, Go or The Duke might be too mentally challenging to be relaxing. Simpler games like Scrabble, Tic Tac Toe, and many card games might be more suitable. Think games that require simple strategy but not high-level logic. Solo games like solitaire and many mobile games are a great option as well. Not only are they fun and thought-provoking, but the stress of direct competition is removed completely. Competition can be fun, but not so much when relaxation is your goal.
Puzzles are fantastic for sharpening the mind and the singular focus they require are incredibly mindful and can provide a healthy distraction from negative mental patterns. Jigsaw puzzles are an old-school and time-tested way to relax, but they require spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills as well. Getting lost in a good puzzle can be the perfect way to de-stress from a hard day. Word puzzles challenge and expand our verbal intelligence. Things like word-search, crossword and mobile games like Words With Friends allow us to engage in analytical thought while being calming and relaxing. Logic puzzles, sudoku and brain teasers can be good to use as well, just make sure that figuring them out doesn’t cause you too much stress.
The power of music to calm the mind and soothe frazzled nerves has been known for a long time. It is only in the past couple of decades that it has become common knowledge that certain types of music also stimulate the brain and enhance the intellect. In choosing music to relax and improve your mind, you can’t go wrong with classical. Multiple studies have shown that listening to classical music activates many centers of the brain. It’s not surprising that this kind of music enhances creativity, but it also seems to have a beneficial effect on the analytical parts of the brain that focus on math and spatial reasoning. Calming music mixed with nature sounds is excellent as well. Any contact with nature, even if it is artificial like a picture or recorded audio, is known to affect levels of serotonin in the brain and to reduce stress hormones. When you combine music and nature you get the mental benefits as well as the calming elements making this the perfect soundtrack for a focused and calming evening.
Everyone loves to multi-task these days, which makes combining the pursuit of relaxation and mental stimulation a big win. The majority of the activities listed here are simple and inexpensive but they offer significant positive effects. If you incorporate a few of these enjoyable pastimes into your schedule on a regular basis it will pay off in a more serene emotional state and a sharper mind.
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