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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!

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.

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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. Progressive muscle relaxation is a widely used method of relaxation. It can be used to reduce stress whenever you have a few moments of free time.

This method works in two steps. The first step is to deliberately tense a certain muscle group for about 8 seconds. Notice how it feels for the muscle to be tense. Now, fully relax the muscle and pay attention to the difference in feeling. Keep this muscle relaxed for about 15 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group. With the knowledge of what the two states feel like, you can learn to relax muscles at the first signs of tension. Once you can achieve physical relaxation, mental calmness will follow.

Choose a quite place to practice and wear comfortable clothing. Sit comfortably or lie down. Keep in mind that if you lie down, you may fall asleep. You should tense and relax one muscle group at a time. The most popular sequence is listed below. If you are left-handed you may want to reverse the sides.

1. Right foot
2. Right lower leg and foot
3. Entire right leg
4. Left foot
5. Left lower leg and foot
6. Entire left leg
7. Right hand
8. Right forearm and hand
9. Entire right arm
10. Left hand
11. Left forearm and hand
12. Entire left arm
13. Abdomen
14. Chest
15. Neck and shoulders
16. Face

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Having a good posture is very important because it allows you to breathe properly. With hunched shoulders, the volume of your chest cavity is reduced which limits your ability take deep breaths. Even a small slouch can cause you to have shallow breathing and increased stress.

Additionally, walking around with hunched shoulders gives off a negative appearance and can cause you to feel worse. If you walk proudly with your shoulders back and you head straight you will feel better and the people you interact with will feel better. If you want to experiment with this, take a 10-minute walk down the street with your head bent to the ground and your shoulders slumped. How do you feel? Now take the same walk with your head straight and making eye contact with the people you meet. You'll feel a lot better at the end of the second walk.

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Unfortunately, people often get into a pessimistic mood where they can only see the failures and problems with their life. This can cause people to experience stress and its many negative side effects.

One way to become more optimistic is to take a few minutes at the end of each day to think about the good things that happened. These don't have to be big events; it could be as simple as having a good sandwich for lunch. Record three of these happy things in a notebook, which you can review whenever you need a pick-me-up.

If you practice this exercise every day, you will get into the habit of recognizing the positive events in your life and forgetting the negatives.

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The breathing pattern of someone who is under a lot of stress is likely to be shallow and rapid. This type of breathing lowers the amount of oxygen that can get into your bloodstream and up to your brain. Decreased oxygen can cause dizziness, headaches and heightened feelings of stress. Learning how to breath properly is one of the most important things you can do to help relax yourself. It's for this reason that controlled breathing is a part of almost every type of meditation practiced in the world.

Proper deep breathing starts with your diaphragm. Instead of puffing out your chest, try to puff our your belly as you breathe. Use your entire lung capacity. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Whenever you feel stressed, take a full five minutes to concentrate on deep breathes. This type of breathing will increase oxygen flow to your brain and release endorphins and hormones that act to sooth your nerves.

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