Tips for Improving Brain Fitness for Recovery
How to Train Your Brain: Tips for Improving Brain Fitness for Recovery
Estimated watch time: 5 mins 31 secs
We can train our brain to be more resilient and to better regulate our emotions. Training our brain starts with learning to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be a powerful mental health tool.
This video guide covers the importance of training your brain, as well as how you can do it. You can learn how to strengthen yourself mentally through mindfulness practice and other exercises.
There are lessons accompanying each video that you can access through our recovery portal, Swell.
This resilience topic is on brain fitness, challenging your mind and heart.
Train our brain. How exactly can we do that? That’s going to be any activity where we challenge our intellect. We’re doing something that’s not what we’re keenly aware of, what we do on a regular basis. It’s something outside of the norm.
So a mnemonic strategy, that’s an instructional strategy that helps improve our memory. It connects new learning to prior learning. And it uses keywords like rhyming poems. Consider elementary school. Roy G. BIV. When I said that, did you think red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. The colors, in order, of a rainbow.
Additionally, there’s reasoning training, those are puzzles that challenge our logical thinking, like a series of arrows going in different directions. Well, which direction should it point next? Can be very frustrating, but it’s a great training process.
Then there’s speed of process training that aims to improve our processing speed and visual attention. It uses repeated related tasks that increase with difficulty. As you do more, you get better at them and they get harder. These are all different ways we can train our brain.
So we’re training our brain to help regulate our emotions, to be able to identify them when we experience them so that they can be controlled or they can be identified and dealt with in that moment.
Using mindfulness can be extremely helpful. That helps us develop a calm, a peace within ourselves. It helps us to pay attention to what’s going on around us in the right now, to live in that moment and then to accept ourselves. Self acceptance is a huge part of mindfulness and it can improve our coping strategies. And when we are mindful there’s a decrease or there can be a decrease in our stress levels and our symptoms of anxiety and depression.
There’s three components to mindfulness that we want to bring attention to, and that is:
- Intention. What are you doing and what are you hope to get from that experience?
- Attention. Are you paying attention to your inner and outer experiences? Are you being in that moment? Seeing what’s available in that moment for you to pull from?
- The last is your attitude. Do you have a positive attitude? Consider curiosity, acceptance of other ideas, other people, and remaining kind.
Our good friend sleep…Why is that important for our emotional brain? Because when we deprive ourselves of sleep, it creates risks for mistakes. How often have you seen the sleepy Dad In the middle of the night that’s trying to give his kid the bottle and it’s in the wrong way or something like that. That’s sleep deprivation and there’s the opportunity for mistakes, it impairs our cognitive and emotional performance when we don’t have enough sleep. We end up not performing at our top ability. It creates mood shifts.
Hey, when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re irritable. There are things that you don’t want to do. We can be grouchy. You can be reactive. It’s increased irritability. And you know what? You tend to lose your sense of humor. What might be funny on a full night’s sleep, is not so funny when you haven’t had any.
Again, sleep is going to help us deal with our stress, our anxiety and our depression. And when we’re not able to process information and see things for what they are in the moment, then it’s really hard for us to use our coping strategies.
So now we know why we want to train the brain. And we know different ways to do it. So what do we do now?
Well, all training, physical or brain training requires discipline, a plan. Plan out what you’re going to do on a daily basis and then execute it. Follow through. If it’s something that you haven’t been able to follow through with and revisit it. And learn from your mistakes, we are not expecting perfection. And if we are, it’s an unrealistic, unreasonable expectation and we need to reconsider that.
So be realistic. Like watching videos on exercise isn’t enough to train your body. Watching videos on brain training or watching other people do puzzles or play video games isn’t enough. Practice your skills. Don’t just wish for change. If we could all wish for change, it would make everything a lot easier. It’s just not possible. Let’s be realistic.
Identify what really needs to change. Sometimes we get sidetracked by things that aren’t necessarily important. That could be because we’re trying to ignore those elephants in the room. Identify and say,” hey. I’m working on this over here.”
Let’s be realistic, identify what really needs to change and then surround yourself with people who stimulate your personal growth. Surround yourself with people that are going to help you meet your goals, both physical and mental.
Next we will talk about cognitive and emotional flexibility.
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