Our brains are very complex organs, and they consume more energy than any other organ in our body. And not unlike a computer, if you get too many processes running at once, the whole thing can slow down, and even freeze up. We all have had those moments when we cannot remember a special date, the name of a movie or actor that we KNOW we know! Or you run into someone whose name you know, but it just won’t seem to come to the top of your mind.
When our computers freeze up or slow down, we first try to shut down several processes by closing screens and applications. When that fails the go-to is to force the machine to shut down entirely and re-boot.
Ways to re-boot your brain:
Since we cannot entirely shut down our brains (that is called being dead!) we have a few natural re-set processes that help clear out the fog but shutting down unnecessary processes and enabling us to re-focus. A night’s sleep, or even a nap, is one such process. There is solid science behind the phrase, “Sleep on it.” During sleep a healthy brain resets while doing some problem solving, thus often providing clarity in the morning and that refreshed feeling. Sleep is not always easy to achieve, nor is it always healthy or good sleep.
And when we are not well-slept or tired, we yawn. Almost every animal on the planet does two things when it awakes, stretches and yawns. Stretching gets the body moving and the blood flowing, yawning triggers a response that sheds that sleepy feeling and increases awareness.
The Magic Bullet to Reboot Your Brain!
Stretching and yawning are two important rituals every human should intentionally perform as a ritual every morning. It is an evolutionary process that shifts you from one state, sleep, into the next, being awake. But most importantly, they just work.
In many cultures, we incorrectly interpret a yawn as just being tired, or someone being bored. When I was a child if I yawned when my parents or teacher was talking to me, covering my mouth or not – I would be sharply corrected for displaying bad manners! Unfortunately, this misconception robbed us of one surprising tool for kicking our brains into high gear. The yawn!
How Does A Yawn Make Such a Positive Impact?
A yawn triggers a whole series of biological and neurobiological events. In addition to giving you brain and body a deliberately forced rush of oxygen, it also triggers a whole series of chemicals to be released into your brain that stimulates alertness, motivation, memory recall and voluntary decision making! A yawn also seems to trigger a primal form of empathy – and likely why yawns are so contagious! By now, just reading this has likely prompted you into a few deep yawns! A yawn is a quick reboot for your brain.
How to Make It Work
Yawn! That is right, fake it until you make it. A few pretend yawns and your body will quickly respond with a real yawn, and when it does, dig in and yawn deep.
The next time you have that moment you can’t remember the name of the person or movie or walk into a room to grab something, and suddenly think you have forgotten what it is, take a minute or so and yawn. Once the deep yawn is passed that little gem of information is likely to pop right back into your head!
It’s time we started to teach our kids and friends to embrace the yawn – it’s the perfect quick, on-the-run brain re-boot! And for those of us of a ‘certain age,’ it’s pretty relieving to have a great brain hack so you have to ask, yet again, what that heck you came back upstairs for!
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