You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!
Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by exposure to a highly traumatic experience. Symptoms usually include nightmares and flashbacks where the event is re-experienced over and over again. These recurring memories can become overbearing and interfere with the brain's ability to learn and consolidate new information.
PTSD is considered to be primarily an anxiety disorder that should subside after several months, but in extreme cases symptoms can last much longer. Long term stress like this can cause permanent damage to the brain due to the build up of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone that is release by the body in response to stress. Its effect on the body is to increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It also causes the immune system to get weaker, bone formation to decrease and inflammation to lessen. In fact, artificial cortisol, called hydrocortisone, is intentionally used to fight inflammation.
Short-term exposure to cortisol can actually improve memory. This is the method by which flashbulb memories are believed to be formed. Additionally, a small amount of stress can increase the mind's ability to focus on a task. However, long-term exposure to high levels of cortisol can damage the hippocampus which can cause serious memory problems. It is unclear how much time it takes to cause permanent memory impairment, but finding ways to reduce stress in your life is always a good idea.
The mind is very receptive to suggestions. If you repeat to yourself that you feel stressed out and uncreative, then you are going to be stressed out and uncreative. If you tell yourself that you are calm, creative and full of energy, then you will feel and perform better in your daily life.
An affirmation is a carefully crafted statement that you repeat over and over to yourself as a form of auto-suggestion. Affirmations can be a powerful way to reprogram the subconscious and become self-fulfilling. The key to crafting an effective affirmation is to make it appeal to your imagination. Imagination usually trumps intellect and common sense. For example, you probably don't have any problem walking in a straight line without falling down, but if you place a plank of wood over a pit of hungry alligators, you might think twice about walking across. Your imagination takes over and prevents you from performing the simple task.
To make an effective affirmation, choose words that are simple, positive and to the point. Avoid statements of fact that your intellect might reject. For example, a bad affirmation might be, "I am the most creative person in my company." A better affirmation would be, "I am confident in my ability to think creatively."
Stress has many physiological affects on the human body. As we have already learned, certain types of stress can be good, but too much stress can lead to all sorts of problems.
The first thing that stress does is to cause the adrenal glands to start secreting adrenaline and epinephrine. These hormones are produced to help use get ready to fight or run away from a threat. Fortunately, we don't face mortal danger on daily basis anymore; but unfortunately, this means that these hormones just make use feel a lot of anxiety.
The "flight or fight" reaction also causes our body to have an increased metabolism. Your heart rate increases, your breathing speeds up, you start sweating, and your blood sugar levels increase. If you are temporarily escaping from a lion this is a good thing, but if you are living your life in a constant state of stress, this can lead to some serious problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Additionally, the body turns off certain unessential functions. After all, if you are running away from a lion there is really no point in wasting energy with things like digestion, reproduction and growth. This is exactly why highly stressed people get ulcers, have trouble getting pregnant and under extreme conditions have stunted growth.
Finding and eliminating stressful parts of our lives is important, but for short term relief, relaxation exercises can be a big help.
Stress can cause all sorts of problems for us in our daily lives. Not the least of which is a decreased ability to think productively and creatively. Autogenic relaxation works by influencing the autonomic nervous system through self-suggestion. The goal is to learn how to relax your limbs, heart and breathing.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position in a quiet place. Concentrate on your legs and arms. Feel them getting heavy. Repeat to yourself over and over, "My arms are getting heavy. My legs are getting heavy."
Now feel your arms and legs getting warmer. Repeat to yourself, "My arms are getting warm. My legs are getting warm." Try to really feel them getting warmer.
Now, concentrate on your pulse. Feel it beating calmly. Repeat to yourself over and over, "My heart rate is calm and regular."
Now, focus on your breathing. Take deep and regular breaths. Repeat, "My breathing is calm and regular."
Focus on your abdomen and feel it getting warmer. Repeat, "My abdomen is feeling warmer."
Lastly, pay attention to your forehead. Feel it getting cooler. Repeat to yourself, "My forehead is pleasantly cool."
Repeat as many times as you desire. A feeling of peacefulness and relaxation should come over you as you progress through this exercise.