Hello, and welcome to a genius seminar on how to rest your brain.
Obviously, we aren't neurological or cognitive experts here at SignUpGenius, but we are very familiar with the struggle of juggling lots of different commitments, coordinating schedules and keeping your head above water with work responsibilities, all while also trying to spend quality time with loved ones. Exhausting, right? SignUpGenius wants to help you beat any busy-season blues!
So, we put together this post with research and thoughts from some bona fide geniuses on how you can take care of your brilliant brain. We recommend a good, long inhale and exhale to get started.
It gives you a longer, healthier life: According to an October 2019 study on the regulation of lifespans in Nature, a multidisciplinary science journal, slower brain activity can lead to a longer life.
"[Brain activity] is what you think of as keeping you cognitively normal. There's the idea that you want to keep your brain active in later life," says Michael McConnell, a neuroscientist at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, in a Washington Post interview. "The thing that is super unexpected is … limiting neural activity is a good thing in healthy aging. It's very counterintuitive."
If you want to dig deeper into the study, it also talks about how a protein called REST (which counteracts genes involved in sparking brain activity) is protective against Alzheimer's disease and can also potentially prevent early aging.
It improves cognitive abilities when your brain is doing lots of work: In a Harvard Health Blog post on secrets to brain success, Dr. Srini Pillay talks about the default mode network (DMN), a brain network that runs and consumes 20% of the body's energy while at rest.
"As you can imagine, this network is doing anything but 'resting' even though it operates largely under the conscious radar," Dr. Pillay says. "Instead, when you turn your 'focus' brain off, it will retrieve memories, link ideas so that you become more creative, and also help you feel more self-connected too."
It increases your empathy: Dr. Pillay goes on to say that along with understanding yourself better, the DMN also helps you to better understand the thoughts of others. Plus, maintaining a healthy DMN can aid in predicting things more accurately. Fantasy football, anyone?
Gratitude: The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence says, "More than any other personality trait, gratitude is strongly linked to mental health and life satisfaction."
In addition to emotional and mental health, the Center cites a study showing that people who experience gratitude cope better with stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health, including lower blood pressure and better immune function.
Yale recommends gratitude practice via these three methods:
The researchers examined studies that linked acts of kindness with brain chemicals like oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine — which help us form trusted bonds, regulate mood and feel euphoria.
Boundaries: Clinical psychologist and author of Boundaries for Leaders Dr. Henry Cloud talks about the brain's three essential processes that function best within boundaries:
Even if it feels small, there are always things that we can say "no" or "later" to, in order to give our brains a break.
The motto here at SignUpGenius has always been simplicity. That means eliminating unnecessary things (like paper sign ups and reply-all emails) from your life so that you have the time and space to focus on what's important.
So, here are a few of our takeaways on how to rest your genius brain: