Recharge your brain – learn something new!

Unchain Your Brain! Learning a new language, researching the competition before starting a company or learning to play a musical instrument are all exercises to unchain your brain. To plant or seed something new, challenging and fulfilling while waiting for the next big thing to take seed, it’s a good idea to engage in an activity that is not related solely to a work situation or family demand.

The following are a few reasons why:

Taking up new intellectual activities stimulates different neural regions and develops new pathways within the brain. This helps to re-energize the brain against the dreaded “brain-drain” many women complain about in middle age, and helps you see problems in a different light. As Dr. John Medina writes in Brain Rules, “What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it.”

The more you stimulate the neural regions and pathways, the more adept you become at the new skill or activity you’re learning. It’s that fluid intelligence thing again. One of the other major benefits of taking up new intellectual activities is that it increases your self-confidence that you can, indeed, learn new things.

Which of the 9 types of intelligence are you?

There are nine different kinds of intelligence, (which are you?) but most people neglect to explore, let alone develop, those outside their comfort zone. Conversely, we all know of artists, musicians, business-owners and scientists who did their best work after the age of 40, 50 or even 60. By developing different facets of their intellectual capacity, they surpassed the creativity and productivity of their youth in ways they never would have dared or imagined earlier in their lives.

Those are just a few of the reasons why planting something new – physically, socially or intellectually – can be beneficial both in the short run and over the long haul, even in times of stress.



Bond with your friends and feel your stress levels fall

If the only laugh lines you have are from watching late-night Seinfeld reruns on TBS, you need to get some real friends. When was the last time you had a conversation with a friend who made you laugh? More importantly, when was the last time you actually felt you could cry with a good friend who wouldn’t judge you? If you don’t have friends like that, maybe now’s the time to consider going beyond your current circle of friends (or all those online LinkedIn connections. Would you ever want any of them to see you with streaked mascara? I didn’t think so.)

Additional tips:

Be proactive about cultivating, engaging and caring about people you really want as friends, and weed out the ones who don’t feel that way about you. In this day and age it’s too easy to rationalize that there are many other things we need to be doing work- and family- wise rather than spending time with friends. Yet, connections with true friends and family members are what matters to our well-being.  Plus, even the most self-interested headhunters will tell you that networking that benefits your connections as well as your own agenda is the best way of finding a terrific job.

According to psychoanalyst, educator and author, Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., positive social interactions are a powerful mechanism for controlling stress. As women talk with other women about worrisome occurrences in their lives, their stress levels fall because oxytocin (the maternal friendship and bonding hormone) levels rise. Even during non-stressful times, having solid friendships has been proven to improve health and extend one’s lifespan.

To be best at work, you need to be balanced; connecting with your friends keeps you sane, helps you keep perspective, and recharges your batteries for the next business day!