5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Brain

Spring always feels like such a time of renewal and awakening. People often use it as a reason to “spring clean” their homes – to tidy up and make things feel fresh and new. Reorganizing all your closets, cupboards, and drawers can help you feel re-energized, but doing a cleanup on you mind and brain can really help you feel like you are starting the season with a clean slate

If you are looking for a fresh start, why not begin by doing a little spring cleaning on your mind.

1
Get a good night’s sleep.

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A good night’s sleep can certainly leave you feeling refreshed, but getting regular sleep is actually critical to your brain’s health. Sleep has been shown to improve memory, and one study even found that sleeping after you learn something new results in actual changes to the brain and better retention. Some other important benefits of sleep? Research has shown that sleep-deprived people handle stress less effectively and that chronic lack of sleep might even contribute to obesity. One study even found that sleep deprivation might even result in serious and lasting brain damage, killing off cells in important regions of the brain. So if you are trying to refresh your brain, start by getting a good night’s rest.

2
Get out and exercise.

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Exercise obviously has a wide range of benefits, but research is increasingly demonstrating that being physically fit is vital to your brain’s current and future health. One recent study found that being fit early in life at age 25 is linked to better cognitive abilities during middle age. Another study revealed that people who were in poor physical shape in middle age experienced a greater loss in brain volume in older age than did those who were very fit at age 40.

Exercise has also been linked to neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells. In experiments, rats who exercised not only grew new brain cells - they were also smarter than rats who had not exercised. Other studies have also demonstrated that exercise can indeed make people smarter. Those who exercise do better on mental tests, have better memories, and are better at paying attention.

3
Eat right.

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A healthy diet can also help contribute to a healthy mind. Certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to mental confusion and memory problems, such as a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Fatty acids are also essential for proper brain function, since they help protect the brain and aid in oxygenation. Fish, nuts, and seeds are good sources of these fatty acids. Learn more about some of the best foods for the brain and be sure to check out the Nutrition site at About.com for more great information about healthy eating.

4
Meditate.

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While people sometimes make the mistake of thinking meditation is just for relaxation, there has been plenty of research to demonstrate the powerful impact that meditating can have on the mind and body. Studies have found a huge range of benefits including lowering stress, improving memory, better sleep, and better attention. One study found that the brain is able to process certain types of information better during meditation, and that letting your mind wander during meditation may be one of the best ways reduce stress and increase concentration.

If you want to reap some of these many advantages, consider become one of the 20 million people in the United States who practice meditation. Here’s a quick guide to practicing mindfulness meditation, one of the most effective types of mediation.

5
Manage your stress.

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Stress can wreak havoc on both your mind and body. It can impede your memory, suppress you immune system, and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help keep your stress levels in check and better manage the daily stresses you have to deal with. Start by developing a stress relief plan that suits your life. Identify your sources of stress and think about some of the things you can do to minimize or cope with such pressure. You can also explore some quick stress relief techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation.

These are just a few things you can do to help keep your brain in tip-top shape. Be sure to check out some of the following links for more information about your brain:

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