3 Strategies for Clarity and Focus
I know the whole left-/right-brain theory got very popular a while ago. Most of us found ourselves self-analyzing and firmly setting ourselves in one category or the other.
But the truth is we are whole-brained humans.
And the fastest way to increase intelligence, problem-solving capacities, focus, and creativity is to support the connections between both of your hemispheres. When your left-brain and right-brain are really good communicators, your mental capacities and creative capacities strengthen all around.
Here are 3 simple ways you can help your brain become whole and help each of its sides become super-social with each other!
(These are great ideas for kids too, who also need their growing brain to develop as a whole.)
1. Crossover Movements
Imagine your body having a line down the center, separating your right side from your left. Any time you make a movement that crosses that center line you are engaging the corpus callosum (the bundle of neural fibers that connect the two hemispheres of your brain). And the more often these neural fibers are engaged and activated, the stronger the pathways between the two parts of your brain become.
So, a simple movement I do often is the cross march. Standing in place, begin an exaggerated march lifting your knees up in the air while moving your arms in opposite rhythm. Be sure to cross your arms over toward the opposite knee (you can even gently touch the opposite knee with your hands). Continue this for about 2-3 minutes. Excellent to do first thing in the morning to get your hemisphere’s talking (not to mention get your energies moving in the right patterns!)
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing
3. Rotate Activity Types
Throughout our busy task-oriented days, we can often get bogged down with a lot of linear, logical kinds of tasks. Most of us tend to spend most of our time in the frontal lobe parts of our brain, collecting information, trying to make logical decisions, and coming up with right solutions to the complexities of our days.
This kind of thinking follows neural pathways all through the frontal lobes of your brain that mimics super-highways. They are direct and fast. And because we spend a lot of time there, they are well-patterned and carved out.
The problem happens when there is not a proper balance between this kind of linear, logical thinking and the looser, abstract, free-flow thinking that comes from activities that feel more like play than productivity.
When we are in a zone of down-regulation, different parts of our brain begin to light up. And they look different. Unlike the super-highways of data processing, they are more like the dirt backroads. Slower, less direct, meandering.
These kinds of neural pathways can use data in very different ways. You can begin to connect the dots, crossover ideas, and generate creative and out-of-the-box solutions that you wouldn’t have thought of before.
In our modern culture, we have to make intentional space for the latter of these kinds of activities. The times when we feel our thinking brains can be quieted and our perspective brains can have a go at things.
The activities that encourage this kind of brain activity could be creative in nature or rhythmic in nature (like doodling in a sketch book or folding laundry).
Or they can be intensely enjoyable or adventurous (like laughing with a friend over coffee or hiking through the woods).
Or they can be activities which engage your sense of beauty or tap into your inner spirit (like strolling through an art museum or watching the sunset or spending time in meditation or prayer).
What our brains need in our day are times of both superhighways and meandering backroads.
And we can help get there by rotating the kinds of activities and tasks we do throughout the day.
So the next time you feel you are hitting a brick wall and your focus and productivity are plummeting, shift gears and begin to do something that engages a different brain route. I promise when you come back to your to-do list you will be refreshed and far more efficient than before!
Where do you spend most of your day? On the superhighway or the dirt backroads?
Brain gym teachers edition has great exercises too! Thank you for always helping us access another entry point of self care, Lisa. I have told so many women about your site. I am encouraged by each of your posts. Thank you for all you are doing!
Thank you Jenny! So appreciate you being part of this community!
Would this be a good thing to do before going to sleep at night? I have taught my seven year old daughter to do some relaxation excercises that include deep breathing in through your nose, out through pursed lips slowly and completely. Or maybe we should try this one in the morning to wake up our brain? What do you think? I love this idea. I feel like some days my brain does not function very well. I lose words alot more than I used to. Maybe this will help !
Great tips! I agree that brain gym exercises help too. I love the idea of doing one thing at a time as you mentioned in your newsletter. We get so distracted and overstimulated that our lives become less meaningful and frantic. These are simple steps. I am do try to meditate daily. But I’d love to add hiking, laughing more often an having a coffee with a friend to my weekly routine. It seems like mothers have a harder time giving themselves permission to really relax and take care of themselves. I know I am guilty of that.
[…] favorite technique I learned on Lisa Byrne’s blog, WellGroundedLife.com. She shares ‘alternate nostril breathing’ in a video. It is similar to square breathing, but you are alternating sides of the nostril for the breaths. I […]