Updated 27 June 2013

Brain burnout? Try this!

Feel like your brain is fried with all those tight deadlines after a nice long, relaxing weekend? Here’s how to recharge in no time.

Feel like your brain is fried with all those tight deadlines after a nice long, relaxing weekend? Here’s how to recharge in no time.

Think happy thoughts

When you're stressed, your brain has trouble sending information from the amygdala (basically your brain's gatekeeper) to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-level thinking, says Judy Willis, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Neurology.

But focusing on something positive – like your upcoming vacation or a date that you're looking forward to – can help lower stress levels and increase the flow of information to your prefrontal cortex, she says. Translation: You'll actually be able to start thinking clearly again.

Hit YouTube

Research shows that humour has a similarly brain-calming effect, says Willis, so watching Dave After Dentist or the latest Jimmy Kimmel stunt can help. The videos won't just get you laughing – brain imaging research indicates that they may also increase motivation and perseverance and decrease stress so you can regain control of your mental facilities. That's two minutes well spent.

Get A hobby

Anything from learning how to crochet to running marathons works, so long as it satisfies two requirements: It has to be something you enjoy doing, and you have to be able to make clear, measurable progress while doing it. The kind of on-going progress sends your brain a steady stream of the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine, which will help make your mind more resistant to stress in general, says Willis. Plus, when you're feeling brain dead, you can think about your latest accomplishment for a restorative effect, says Willis.

This is an edited version of this article. The full version, with advice on how to cope, can be found in the Women’s Health magazine (June issue, now on sale).

(Photo of happy woman from Shutterstock)


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