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Tips for a Healthy Mind

Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
August 17, 2008

There’s a good book called Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey.

The book deals with a wide variety of subjects and not just ADD. Among other things, the authors make some recommendations for basic principles of what you might call “Brain Management.” In other words, here are some tips for maintaining a well-oiled and well-working brain:

  • Take 30 second breaks from work or any activity that keeps your brain “on”
  • Get enough sleep
  • Rest your brain as you feel overloaded – just 30 seconds
  • Eat the right food
     – not too much carbs
     – not too much caffeine
     – not too much alcohol
     – whole foods
     – balanced diet
     – proteins with breakfast
     – omega 3 fatty acids
  • Exercise 3x week
  • Pray or meditate – even for 3-5 minutes
  • Have positive human contact. That is, do fun things with interesting people. Don’t stay in your room, isolated from the world.
  • Keep a Journal

These are interesting pieces of advice for everyone with a brain. In a very real sense, they apply to everyone, everywhere.

The authors contend that we don’t give our brains a chance to turn off. We don’t give it natural breaks.

Interestingly, there is research to show that, for most of us, the brain naturally takes a break between activities. We finish a task and the brainwaves settle down into a pattern of inactivity. In other words, our brain shifts into neutral for a few seconds before we go on to the next task.

But that doesn’t always happen, and it doesn’t happen for everyone.

The really great news is that you can simply do this for yourself. In other words, you can simply take a 30- to 60-second break and get a huge boost in productivity.

Your brain can never really be “off” at any time. But there are many parts to the brain. Your autonomic systems keep your heart beating and your lungs working. Don’t touch that part.

Other operations, such as conscious and unconscious “work” are another story. We can consciously choose to stop thinking about one thing and begin thinking about another thing. So taking a break with our conscious mind is very easy. It can be as simple as staring at picture, or closing our eyes for a few seconds.

At the same time, the unconscious mind continues working away. Giving it a break takes a little more effort — but not much. A 3-5 minute break in which we pray, meditate, or just do a breathing exercise, can be extremely refreshing.

I’ve had people argue that they don’t have time to exercise, relax, or spend 30 minutes a day in quiet time. Okay. I don’t agree with that.

But when I tell you that a series of 30-second breaks every hour will give you a major boost in brain power, isn’t that worth checking out?

Try it. What have you got to gain?

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