Stuck In a Mental Rut? Do This.

There is a wildly underestimated activity that has the power to hijack your brain in a fantastic way. If you had to take one guess, what would it be?

Eating more veggies? Considerable.

Drinking an additional glass of wine? Stop dreaming.

Using your Magic Wand? Hmm..

Alas, none of these things are the answer. So what could it possibly be?

I’ll tell you. It’s exercise. That’s right: EXERCISE.

Now, I realize that isn’t exactly the answer you were hoping for, but stick with me and I’ll give you some practical solutions.

You see, in just the past few years, neuroscientists have discovered so much more about incredible connection between exercise and the brain. It’s really fascinating stuff. There’s a reason we get great ideas when we’re out walking in nature, or crushing an intense workout. It makes our brains feel good, and function better. I’ll save you the sciencey details, but in a nutshell, our brains NEED physical exercise to experience peak performance.

“But I don’t need peak brain performance,” you may reply.

I’m just changing diapers and cleaning messes all day anyway.”

Uh, okay. Are you telling me you don’t want to remember where you put your car keys next time? Maybe accidentally putting a diaper in the laundry hamper instead of the trash is cool with you? Forgetting it’s early pick-up day at school doesn’t peeve your kids, perhaps?

Mmmhmm. Mommy brain is a real thing, people. Exercise is part of the answer (and more sleep certainly wouldn’t hurt, either…).

The relationship between physical activity and learning is hardwired into the brain’s circuitry. Simply put, we were created for movement. It’s an essential function that affects literally everything: mood, hormones, appetite, creativity, learning, physical health, emotional health, mental health…you get the idea.

In our modern-day lifestyle where much of what we do is sedentary, we are missing out on a LOT of opportunities for inspiration! So, okay–we aren’t wild cave women who have to gather the goods all day while wrangling our brood. That’s not our reality, and if I’m totally honest, I’m glad it isn’t (can I get an amen?).

The good news is, we don’t have to be human kind’s pioneers to reap the benefits of the brain’s powerful connection to exercise. Here are three practical ways to get out of a creativity rut by using your body.

1. Get daily exercise.

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You don’t have to crossfit every day to increase your smarts. Just do something intentionally active. Go for a walk every morning. Do an 8-minute HIIT workout. Move those old boxes in your garage. Dance around naked during nap time (just not in the slippery shower, mmmkay?).

2. Incorporate more movement throughout your day.

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Sure, we’ve all seen those videos with hashtag #fitmom showing some mom doing lunges between a load of laundry and a sink full of dishes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to bust my glutes after I’ve already done my share of deadlifts earlier that day. No, thanks. But I get the heart of the idea. There are lots of opportunities to incorporate more movement into our day if we think outside the box and get creative. What does that look like for you? Maybe it’s doing 25 jumping jacks after every time you pee. Or going on foot to places within driving distance. Or dancing to “Uptown Funk” for the umpteenth time with your toddler. It’s your time to shine, baby.

3. Sit less.

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I don’t mean to be all morbid and whatnot, but sedentary behavior is the fourth leading cause of death. Yikes. If we do our daily workout and proceed to just sit the rest of the day, that’s like popping a multivitamin and then eating ice cream and potato chips. Hence, tip #2 above. Really, if you think about it, how much do we moms actually get to sit, anyway? Unless you’re at a job that requires you to sit for extended periods, you’re probably up on your feet: All. The. Time. So this may be one more for the husbands…I’m just saying.

Let’s boost our brains and get that creativity flowing at max potential. And if you want to learn more about the incredible connection between exercise and your brain, check out Dr. John Ratey’s stuff. You’ll never think of exercise the same way again!

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