The coming of spring always feels like a time of renewal and awakening. People often use it as a reason to spring clean their homes and offices, making things feel fresh, clean and new. Reorganizing all your closets, cupboards, and drawers can help you feel re-energized in the moment, but don’t dismiss or neglect your mind — that needs a clean up, too. A cleanup of your mind can really help you feel like you are starting the spring season with a clean slate, and a de-cluttered brain. If you are looking for a fresh start, begin by doing a little less spring cleaning of your closets and more spring cleaning of your brain by incorporating any one of the methods below.
1. Get out and Exercise
Exercise obviously has a wide range of benefits, but research is increasingly demonstrating that being physically fit is vital to your brain’s current and future health. One recent study found that being fit early in life at age 25 is linked to better cognitive abilities during middle age. Another study revealed that people who were in poor physical shape in middle age experienced a greater loss of brain volume in older age than did those who were very fit at age 40.
Exercise has also been linked to the formation of new brain cells called neurogenesis. In experiments, rats who exercised not only grew new brain cells; they were also smarter than rats who had not exercised. Other studies have also demonstrated that exercise can indeed make people smarter. Those who exercise do better on mental tests, have better memories, and are better at paying attention.
2. Eat Right
A healthy diet can also help contribute to a healthy mind. Certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to mental confusion and memory problems, such as a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Fatty acids are also essential for proper brain function since they help protect the brain and aid in oxygenation. Fish, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of these fatty acids. Try to get these into your diet, and you will notice over time your mental sluggishness begin to evaporate.
3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep can certainly leave you feeling refreshed, but getting regular sleep is actually critical to your brain’s health. Sleep has been shown to improve memory, and one study even found that sleeping after you learn something new results in actual changes in the brain and better retention.
Research has shown that sleep-deprived people handle stress less effectively and that chronic lack of sleep might even contribute to obesity. Another study found that sleep deprivation might even result in serious and lasting brain damage, killing off cells in important regions of the brain. So if you are trying to refresh your brain, start by getting a good night’s rest, and make sure that happens on a continuous basis.
4. Manage Your Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on both your mind and body. It can impede your memory, suppress your immune system, increase inflammation and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help keep your stress levels in check and better manage the daily stresses you have to deal with.
Start by developing a stress relief plan that suits your life. Identify your sources of stress, and think about some of the things you can do to minimize or cope with such pressure(s). Having an action plan to tackle your particular stressors will help you feel more in control and, in turn, less stressed. You can also explore some quick stress relief techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation.
While people sometimes make the mistake of thinking meditation is just for relaxation, there has been plenty of research to demonstrate the powerful impact that meditating can have on the mind and body. Studies have found a huge range of benefits including lowering stress, improving memory, better sleep, and better attention. One study found that the brain is able to process certain types of information better during meditation, and that letting your mind wander during meditation may be one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase concentration. If you want to reap some of the many advantages of meditation, you can start by finding one that suits your particular needs, and start slowly from there.
These are just a few things you can do to help keep your brain in tip-top shape now that spring is here, but the most important thing of all is to at least start the purging process by releasing all of the toxic clutter from your brain that is preventing you from living a full life. This mental purge can be just one thing at a time, whether it’s toxic friends, an unsupportive family, a relationship that doesn’t suit your needs anymore, a job that you have outgrown — the list will be different for everyone. By completing this elimination, you will feel much lighter this spring, and in the seasons to come.