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Mentalrobics™

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!

In Caffeine I, we talked about what caffeine is and how it works on the mind. In addition to working as a brain stimulant, caffeine has also been shown to improve athletic performance and endurance.

Two additional things to keep in mind about caffeine are that it is a diuretic and it causes increased calcium loss. So, if you consume caffeine, you should make sure that you are drinking enough water to avoid dehydration and that you are getting enough calcium in your diet.

It's probably a good idea to limit your caffeine intake to 250mg per day (less if you are pregnant). Unfortunately, companies rarely label their products with the amount of caffeine that they contain. Here is a little chart to help you.

Drip Coffee (8oz)95mg
Instant Coffee (8oz)85mg
Decaf Coffee (8oz)3mg
Espresso (1oz)40mg
Coffee Ice Cream (1 cup)50mg
Brewed Tea (8oz)50mg
Instant Tea (8oz)28mg
Iced Tea (8oz)25mg
Snapple Tea42mg
Cocoa (8oz)6mg
Chocolate Milk (8oz)5mg
Chocolate Bar10mg
Mountain Dew56mg
Diet Coke47mg
Coke35mg
Pepsi38mg
Barq's Root Beer23mg
NoDoz Max Strength200mg
NoDoz Regular Strength100mg

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Visualize 5 things that make you irritated.
Try to get a clear image of each item in your mind. You may have to close your eyes to get a vivid image.
Now visualize 5 things that make you laugh.

The more you practice, the better you will get at visualizing images and recognizing your emotional state.

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This exercise will test your ability to recall and recreate sounds in your mind. This stretches the part of the brain where audio is stored. Close your eyes and try to hear the following sounds:

1. Your favorite song
2. A stapler stapling some paper
3. Fingernails on a chalkboard
4. A toilet flushing
5. A babbling brook

How well did you do at reproducing those sounds in your head? With practice, you'll get better at imagining sounds.

If you like this exercise, try Mental Audio I and Mental Audio II.

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This exercise comes from the book Conceptual Blockbusting by James L. Adams and relates to the idea of stereotyping.

Find someone that you do not know very well to help you do this exercise. Taking turns, say a label that describes you (blonde, student, carpenter, mother, chocoholic, married, etc). Avoid small talk and avoid having a conversation about each label. Just state your label and then continue. It will get difficult to come up with labels after the first few, but keep going for at least five minutes.

This exercise will demonstrate how you label yourself. Notice how each label is a stereotype. People stereotype themselves and others all the time. Without being able to qualify your labels with conversation, you are allowing the other person to stereotype you. How did your stereotypes affect your understanding of the other person? For example, if they said that they were a "marathon runner," what preconceived qualities would you instantly place onto them? Recognizing that you are constantly stereotyping things will allow you to look beyond these labels when necessary.

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Icebreakers are little exercises that help relax tension and loosen up a formal atmosphere in a meeting where you want to have creative ideas and group participation.

Here is an icebreaker for you to try:

Have everyone sit in a circle with one person standing in the middle. There should be one less chair than people. The person in the middle asks a question like "who has a pet dog?" Everyone who does must stand up and switch seats. The person in the middle must also find a seat (sort of like musical chairs). The only rule is that when you stand up, you cannot return to your own chair, nor to a chair right next to you. This is a good way to learn interesting facts about people while having a little fun.

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