I go through dozens of articles, podcasts and resources every morning when I wake up to fill my mind with the right type of focus and content. I do this to deal with all the negativity that I involuntarily receive every day. Well I want to go through an article with you today from Dr. Amen from the Amen Clinics…best selling author, podcast host and someone that has done hundreds of thousands of brain scans on individuals suffering from depression, anxiety and all types of negative emotions. I absolutely feel it is so packed with content I am going to read it to you rather than just summarize it. It’s got some critical information I feel can help each of you in the community.
Talk about stress. If you’re working from home, supervising distance learning for your children, and dealing with the anxiety of the pandemic, it can be overwhelming. At Amen Clinics, there’s been a big increase in people asking for help to cope with it all. The neuropsychiatrists at Amen Clinics have come up with the following 10 brain tips to keep you (and your kids) from getting frazzled, frustrated, or fed up.
10 Brain Tips to Keep You (and your kids) From Getting Frazzled, Frustrated, or Fed Up
1. Look for the positive.
The human brain is hardwired for negativity and during stressful times, like now, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong with your life. You need to train your brain to look for the positive to enhance your moods. An easy way to do this is to start each day by saying “Today is going to be a great day.” This causes the brain to search for reasons why it will be great. End each day with “What went well today?” This is also a very easy lesson to teach your kids that will help them maintain a more positive outlook.
2. Fuel your brain.
Feed your brain high-quality foods and start the day with some protein for better focus and energy. Also, be aware that your brain is 80% water, and being even mildly dehydrated can negatively impact your moods—making you feel more anxious, tense, depressed, or angry—in addition to sapping your energy levels and lowering your ability to concentrate. Being dehydrated by just 2% impairs performance in tasks that require attention, immediate memory skills, and physical performance, according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. This can be especially important for kids with ADD/ADHD who struggle with attention and concentration.
3. Exercise to boost blood flow to the brain.
Even though your brain, which weighs about 3 pounds, makes up only 2% of your body’s weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen and blood flow in your body. Anything that impairs blood flow hurts your brain and impairs function. Brain SPECT imaging measures blood flow in the brain and low blood flow on SPECT has been seen with ADD/ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, suicide, and more. One of the best ways to promote healthy blood flow to the brain (and to your kids’ brains) is to exercise on a regular basis. Exercise enhances moods, reduces stress and anxiety, and increases focus and energy.
Absolutely something I have benefited from…
4. Create a physical space for work and school.
This way, when you (or your kids) enter that space—even if it’s just a desk in the corner of the living room—it signals to the brain that you’re in work mode (or your kids are in learning mode).
5. Give your brain a break.
The ideal amount of time to work on a single task is 75-90 minutes, according to Bob Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity and a lecturer at MIT. Taking mini-breaks during the day boosts productivity. To reset and re-energize, try a brief meditation session (improves focus and attention), deep breathing (relieves stress and anxiety), or a quick walk (a natural mood booster).
Brendon Bruchard reinforces this…
This does not mean TV or Social Media Break…
6. Share the load.
Depending on your anxiety level, consider creating a learning pod or “pandemic pod.” Pods are small groups of children—about 3 to 10 kids—who learn together in person. Some pods hire a tutor to teach the children while others let the parents split the duties. This means your brain gets a break from classroom time so you can focus on your own work. It also creates a sense of community, which is beneficial for the brain.
The same can be said for small masterminds, groups or networking…
7. Practice mental hygiene.
In a pandemic, mental hygiene is just as important as washing your hands. If you find yourself (or your kids) saying things like, “Things will never go back to normal” or “We’re all going to get COVID and die,” it’s time to eliminate the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) that steal your happiness. Whenever you or your children have a thought that makes you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write it down and talk back to it. This can be so helpful for moods and behavior.
Recognizing these behaviors and thoughts totally empowers you…
8. Encourage active listening at home.
To make sure all family members know what their role is in the household, practice active listening. This is when you repeat back what you’ve understood when another person is talking. This helps avoid the miscommunication and conflicts that can harm relationships. When we have great relationships, our brains tend to do much better.
In business this is a great way to help others feel you are listening and respect and loyalty and performance…
9. Tell your brain it’s time to relax.
At the end of the day, put your work materials out of sight, if possible. This helps signal to your brain that it’s time to power down and relax. To promote relaxation, inhale calming scents, such as lemon, lavender, honeysuckle, rose, jasmine, or vanilla.
I’ve spoken about the idea of the Corporate Athlete…meaning the growth is in the recovery not the stress…
10. Stick to a sleep schedule.
While you’re sleeping, your brain is hard at work performing some very critical functions necessary to keep it operating at optimal levels. For example, during sleep, your brain cleans or washes itself by eliminating cellular debris and toxins that build up during the day (basically taking out the neural trash), consolidates learning and memory, and prepares for the following day. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children ages 6-12 get 9-12 hours and teenagers 13-18 years old get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep improves attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, moods, and mental health. Create a sleep routine for yourself and your children and stick to it.
Obviously there are seasons of life to consider with this, but overall it’s important to maintain this part of sleep…
Anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, and other mental health conditions can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.
I think it is so important for us to remember that we are not our minds. Our brain is a tool and like anything else, you MUST keep it sharp, clean and focused. I highly recommend any of Dr. Amen’s books on Mental Health and Brain health and he also has an incredible podcast that he and his wife do which gives you small nuggets of health and nutrition information as well as activities for the brain and life in general. check it out.
Thanks for listening. George Wright III