Below are ten simple, natural ways that you can help your child, your family, and yourself make better use of your amazing brains.
- Engage in real rough-and-tumble play, especially in the morning, as this increases dopamine levels for hours. Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground, roll around, and have fun!
- Lie in bed and belly laugh for five minutes first thing in the morning. Fair warning: once you start, you might not be able to stop! Laughing releases endorphins (positive neurotransmitters that help reduce pain) that will last for hours.
- When you feel stuck, no matter what you’re doing, get up and move. Take a walk, skip down the hall, or dance. If you can’t leave your desk, march in place—or find something with some weight to it and lift it above your head, and then lean to your left, lean to your right, and bend down to your feet. Do this at least five times.
- Take five deep breaths every hour to give your brain with the oxygen it needs to work properly. Be sure your stomach is expanding as you inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth, and purse your lips while blowing out. When you think you’re finished exhaling, blow out air for another three seconds. This helps get rid of stale air in your lungs.
- Go exploring, even if that means cleaning a closet you haven’t touched in years. Give yourself plenty of opportunities to stretch the brain, essential for the creation of new neurons.
- Take frequent play breaks, no matter how old you are. Playing activates your imagination and expands your sense of possibility. Play unlocks your brain when it gets overloaded or stuck.
- When you’re fearful or your adrenalin is pumping, go running as soon as possible to bleed out the excess adrenalin that can cause anxiety, reduced memory, and emotional slumps. Too much adrenalin can lead to disease over time.
- Sing, listen to music, or create art, all of which move us emotionally and expand us.
- Take care of a person or an animal to help stimulate the limbic system.
- Volunteer. Give of yourself and extend yourself while getting out of your brain for a while.
Rekindle that sense of wonder and play you had as a child. You’re never too old to play and have fun. Can you think of any other ways to expand and upgrade your brain?