Every animal you can think of – mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians has a brain. But the human brain is unique. Although it’s not the largest, it gives us the power to speak, imagine and problem solve. It is truly an amazing organ.
The brain performs an incredible number of tasks including the following:
- It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
- It accepts a flood of information about the world around you from your various senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching).
- It handles your physical movement when walking, talking, standing or sitting.
- It lets you think, dream, reason and experience emotions.
- All of these tasks are coordinated, controlled and regulated by an organ that is about the size of a small head of cauliflower.
These are 5 things you must know about the brain.
A study showed that people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQs. What’s the impact of a 10-point drop? The same as losing a night of sleep. More than twice the effect of smoking marijuana.
Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we’re getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don’t actually multitask. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.
Effects of Multitasking
a. Multitasking is a source of stress
Humans are inherently bad at multitasking and it’s a poor strategy for productivity. What you might not realize is that multitasking and frequent interruptions are sources of stress that can have a notable impact on your health and sense of well-being.
b. The vicious circle of multitasking
Habitual multitasking will keep you very busy, but your ability to complete even short-term goals will likely be compromised. Like a vicious circle, lack of accomplishment leads to frustration, stress, and a return to multitasking in order to make up for lost time.
How to overcome multitasking effect
a. Prioritize. Each morning, prepare a task list for the day and prioritize the tasks by importance in relation to your most important goals.
b. Start early. Get to work on your most important tasks early in the day so that you don’t run out of time.
c. Limit distractions. If you’re working on a computer, close down all windows that aren’t necessary for the task at hand, especially things like email, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.
d. Silence your phone. If possible, shut off your cell phone for a while to avoid unnecessary interruption.
e. Control your workplace. Work in an environment that is conducive to focus. If necessary, isolate yourself from people who might unnecessarily interrupt or distract you.
Brain is more creative when you are tired
As per the article published in Thinking and Reasoning a slightly groggy and tired brain may produce some of your best creative insights. According to Mareike Wieth, a professor at Albion College who led a 2011 study show that people perform better on creative, insight-based challenges when they are less awake. The reason may be that finding solutions to creative obstacles require seeing a problem from a new angle or point of view.
During the most productive hours of your day, your ability to focus is at its peak, and you can skillfully block out distractions. On the other hand, when you’re tired, your thoughts flit about more freely.
Clutter, whether it’s physical or mental, happens to be very stimulating for the mind; and it just so happens that our brains are the most cluttered when we’re tired. And there’s research to prove it.
This Scientific American article explains how distractions can actually be a good thing for creative thinking:
Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times, we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.
How meditation helps brain
Sara Lazar, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, said,
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day”
Last week, a study from UCLA found that long-term mediators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain
Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center”
One of the most interesting studies in the last few years carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.”
Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention
Meditation Can Help with Addiction – One study, for example, pitted mindfulness training against the American Lung Association’s freedom from smoking (FFS) program and found that people who learned mindfulness were many times more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the training
Benefits of meditation to human mind
- Meditation can help you deal with stress and negative emotions
- At the same time, meditation could boost positive skills like memory and awareness.
- There are also signs that meditation can help boost your immune system – or at least help ward off the flu.
- Meditation may help prevent genetic damage.
Brain and Exercise
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.
Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
Indirectly, exercise improves mood, sleep, reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.
Exercise Shields You from Stress and Depression – Exercise is one of the “secret weapons” to overcoming depression, and studies have shown its efficiency typically surpasses that of antidepressant drugs.
To Boost Creativity, Get Moving! – “Four experiments demonstrate that walking boosts creative ideation in real-time and shortly after… Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
- Benefits of exercise to brain
- Exercise prevents both brain and muscle decay
- Exercise can help you sharp well into old age
- Exercise shields you from stress and depression
- Exercise boosts brain growth and regeneration
While it’s never too late to start exercising, the earlier you begin and the more consistent you are, the greater your long-term rewards. Having an active lifestyle is really an investment in your future well-being, both physically and mentally.
Power Nap and Mind
Power naps can boost your energy, mood, productivity and creativity significantly better than the typical pick-me-up, caffeine.
A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance 34% and alertness 100%.
Some companies like Apple or Prentice Hall Publishing have quiet rooms or meditation rooms where employees can meditate, pray, or nap
Here are some of the many proven benefits of regular power naps:
- Power Naps increased energy and stamina
- Power Naps reduced stress due to decreased cortisol levels
- Power Naps improved mood due to an increase in serotonin levels
- Power Naps reduced risk of depression
- Power Naps improved memory and learning
- Power Naps increased alertness and productivity
- Power Naps improved accuracy, creativity, patience, decision-making skills