Tag Archives: stress

Meditation for Beginners

meditation

We are often so busy we feel there is no time to add meditation to our schedule. But 10-15 minutes of daily meditation actually gives you more time by calming your mind and increasing your focus.

Your brain can adapt to a chaotic world, but it will function more efficiently over a longer period if you provide moments of inward reflection and rest. Mediation offers an easy way to achieve this. Taking a few minutes to meditate can also help you overcome stress and become more positive, happy and peaceful.  Below are tips for beginners to learn how to breathe right and relax the muscles for meditation.

Breathing 101

  • Sit with your eyes partially closed and turn your attention to your breathing.
  • Breathe naturally, preferably through your nostrils, without trying to control your breath.meditation
  • Try to become aware of the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils. The sensation of your breath is your object of meditation so concentrate on this and nothing else.
  • At first, your mind will be very busy; you might even feel that the meditation is making your mind busier. In reality you are
    just becoming more aware of how busy your mind actually is.
  • Resist the temptation to follow different thoughts as they arise; remain focused on the sensation of the breath.
  • If your mind wanders and is following your thoughts, immediately return it to your breathing.
  • Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind clears.

Muscle Relaxation 101

meditation

  • Squeeze your right hand into a fist as hard as you can.
  • Hold the fist and pay attention to how uncomfortable the tension is in your fist.
  • Now, slowly release your fingers extending them one by one.
  • Notice how the tension leaves your fingers.
  • Now try this with other parts of your body where you might feel stress.
  • Tense your shoulders, neck, forehead, stomach, and then slowly release.
  • At the end of the exercise you may notice that energy in the form of stress has left you and you feel better.

We hope this post has taught you how to easily incorporate a few minutes of meditation into your daily lives!  Make sure to check out the Fit Brains portfolio of apps when you are done relaxing and you’re ready to work out your brain!

6 Tips To Relax The Mind

Sometimes, the influx of work and daily to-dos are stressful for many of us.  Our brains will likely become exhausted on more than a few occasions so we need to remember how to relax the mind!

Here are 6 tips from the Fit Brains team to help you clear & calm the brain during those stressful days!

  1. Yoga / meditation – Practicing yoga or meditation will help relax the body, mind, and soul. Sign up for a trial yoga class, many community centers will offer the 1st class for free. You can also try meditating at home by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, clearing your mind, and thinking about one specific but stress-free thing for 10-30 minutes.
  2. Keep hydrated – Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and clean. Toxins can build up in the body if it is dehydrated, which will often clog up the mind.
  3. Listen to music – Listening to music you enjoy triggers natural endorphins in your brain, so take a break and listen to some soothing music that you love.
  4. Shut off your brain – Do something mindless and/or repetitive. Activities like easy chores or light exercises are good because they don’t require a lot of thinking. Good examples are swimming, folding laundry, going for a walk, doing the dishes.
  5. Eat right – Cut back on stimulating foods such as coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and candy. Also try to avoid processed & artificial foods. You are what you eat so you need to eat healthy to have a healthy mind!
  6. Treat yourself – Do something you love and know will lower your stress level. We have all been living in our bodies long enough to know the things we like to do that will help us relax. Sometimes all we need is a break! Take a nap, get a massage, melt away in a bubble bath…do whatever you need to do to recharge yourself!

While brain breaks are great once in a while, don’t forget to keep your mind active on a regular basis to maintain its optimal performance! The Fit Brains Trainer app is great for exercising the mind without any burden of stress.  If you have kids, they can develop their brain skills with our new Fit Brains for Kids app as well!

Games and Fun

Stress is an outcome of a diverse and complex interface physiology and psychology that results in increased cortisol, anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, and adverse bodily functions.

Research indicates a relationship between increased cortisol, increased depression, and increased risk of heart disease. Factors that promote stress and lead to this reaction need to be recognized, confronted, and changed. How does one reduce stress?

This is the million dollar question, but the answer does not need to be complicated. One simple remedy for stress reduction is to increase the amount of fun in your life. While this sounds great and even easy, Americans and others may actually find this difficult. Humans tend to fill up all the minutes in their day with tasks and forget to secure free time and fun time in their life.

Games are a good example of fun and stress reduction. Fitbrains.com provides online brain games for mental exercise and to promote cognitive functioning. These brain games are also fun and personal. Consumers indicate that two primary reasons they play online games (like the ones at Fitbrains.com) are for stress reduction and mental stimulation.

If you are experiencing stress in your life and need to try something new to help generate some fun in your life, I suggest you take a few moments and play a brain game or two at Fitbrains.com.

Have some Fun!

Sleep in America poll reveals that One-Third of Americans Lose Sleep Over Economy

economy.jpgThe world economic situation is fertile ground for anxiety, some realistic and other perpetuated from misinformation and personal agendas. According to the National Sleep Foundation, One-third of Americans are losing sleep over the state of the U.S. economy and other personal financial concerns. The poll suggests that inadequate sleep is associated with unhealthy lifestyles and negatively impacts health and safety.

The Brain Fitness Blog has reported on this in the past and we believe it is important to take some time to consider the following as methods for coping with these uncertain times:

  • 1. Information and knowledge will help to reduce anxiety, even when the information is not positive. Most of us experience anxiety or unease when we are confronted with uncertainty. As such, it is a good idea to spend some time researching the economic issues (stock market, credit, employment, etc) from a variety of viewpoints. You may have noticed that reading and predicting the economy is not a science, but for those in the stock market, there are predictable patterns based on many years of past behavior. This should provide some certainty even though the present represents a turbulent time.
  • 2. Meet with your financial planner to review all investments and liabilities. He or she will help you reduce your risk and loss while planning appropriately for the near and long term future.
  • 3. Have a family meeting to discuss the issues and to provide a forum to express fears and hopes. Make a family plan that adapts spending and saving to the current market demands.
  • 4. Place a focus on your emotional condition and make an extra effort to exercise and eat healthy. This will enable your body to handle the stress better.
  • 5. This is a great time to use relaxation procedures such as breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Meditation is also a good daily activity.
  • 6. Have faith in our human innovative and adaptive nature and believe that we will survive this period of uncertainty.
  • 7. Reach out to others who may be in a particularly difficult situation and offer them your time and friendship.

Fit Brains brain games.

Aerobic Exercise, Hippocampal volume, and Spatial Memory

It has been know for some time that aerobic exercise and physical activity helps to increase cognitive function and perhaps delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study provides some explanation for how this might occur.

It is known that deterioration of the hippocampus occurs as part of the aging process. The hippocampus (i) is the structure deep in the middle of the temporal lobe that helps to form new memories and spatial memory. Changes in the structure and function occur in the hippocampus with advanced age, chronic stress, and Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, studies indicate an enriched environment that includes physical activity can lead to neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

A recent study by Erickson and colleagues (2009) investigated high versus low levels of aerobic exercise in non-demented older adults on volume of the hippocampus and on spatial memory. Results indicate that higher fitness levels were associated with larger left and right hippocampi and larger hippocampi and higher fitness levels were related to better spatial memory performance.

The authors assert that higher levels of aerobic exercise are related to increased hippocampal volume in older humans, which translates to better memory performance.

Dr. Nussbaum, Chief Scientific Officer of Fitbrains, Inc. presents a brain health lifestyle that includes physical activity paulnussbaum.com .