How to Reset Your Brain

Visual Freedom

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With everything that’s been going on in 2020, I know I’m not the only one who asked herself if there’s a way to refresh my mind and be more focused. As someone who barely watches the news, I still found myself worrying and feeling anxious way more often than I prefer.

That’s why I spent the past weeks asking myself how to reset my brain to let go of the negative emotions tied to 2020. My goal was to find a process that would help me end this year with more positive than negative feelings.

During my research, I came across brilliant minds such as Jim Kwik, who’ve been studying the brain for decades.

According to Kwik, the key to reset your mind is taking small steps to feel safe in the present moment. That’s because it’s impossible to feel well and perform at our best if we don’t feel safe.

Here are some more of these small steps that might help you untangle your mind and feel more relaxed, even during difficult times:

Honor Your Habits

The easiest yet most underrated way to feel safer and have a sense of control is by sticking to a daily routine.

The pandemic forced many of us to change our daily schedules and adapt to a new reality during our work and private lives.

Yet, what most people underrate is that we can still follow certain routines that make us feel safe and give us a sense of stability, no matter how noisy the world seems to be.

Even though you might have to work from home, take care of the kids, and follow other duties, creating routines will help you feel more relaxed.

For me, the cornerstone is to take care of what I do first thing in the morning.

My morning routine helps me start each day with a positive intention and take time for my personal and spiritual growth, no matter how busy the rest of the day will be.

I’ve already been working from home before the pandemic, yet, I’ve been spending lots of time outside. I’ve been eating out almost daily, joining events, and going to the gym. Now that I’m spending 99% of my time at home (mostly in front of my computer), I find it even more important to take care of myself.

Otherwise, I quickly find myself feeling overwhelmed.

When I wake up late or have a busy schedule, I’m often tempted to skip my morning routine and dive straight into work, but whenever I did that, I regretted it.

During the past months, I learned how hard it is to perform at my best if I try to force myself to do certain things instead of taking care of my wellbeing.

How you can do it:

Take a few minutes to remind yourself of all the routines that helped you feel happier, healthier, and more relaxed in the past.

Once you have a few ideas, ask yourself how you could incorporate some of them into your current daily life despite everything that’s going on.

Coming up with these solutions might not be easy, but it will be worth it.

You can think of routines to practice before and after work, exercise habits, eating habits, routines with your kids or partner, and rituals that might help you feel more relaxed.

Quite often, we tend to overcomplicate life. To give your brain a mental restart, allow yourself to honor the simple things such as a few calm minutes during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Your daily routines can be anything: a daily green smoothie that helps you feel more energized, a warm bath, a 30-minute walk, or anything else that enables you to regain mental clarity.

The most important rule when creating those new routines is to start small.

Aiming for five new habits all at once will likely end up in frustration. Instead, begin with one or two small steps and make sure you stick to them, no matter how busy life gets.

Untangle Your Mind With a Brain Dump

One of the most liberating exercises to free your mind is journaling.

By writing your thoughts down on a piece of paper, you not only process your emotions and fears, but you also realize that it’s not as bad as you thought.

You can give yourself an emotional release by putting your thoughts and feelings out of your brain on paper.

By writing your emotions down and allowing them to be present, you’re making sure that they won’t influence you as much as if you’d try to suppress them.

Even though we all go through a vast spectrum of emotions every single day, 2020 was even more intense and led to more insecurity than most of us have ever experienced.

It’s important to allow these emotions to be present because that’s the only way we can let go of them instead of allowing them to control us.

How you can do it:

To get the most benefits of journaling, do it daily and turn it into one of your routines.

For me, the best time to write in my journal is first thing in the morning because it helps me set the tone for the day.

But the reality is that there are no rules to journaling.

The goal of a journaling routine is that it helps you feel more relaxed and in control. If you’ve never done it before, you can start by writing down anything that comes to your mind.

Your journaling pages don’t need to make sense or lead to a higher purpose. The only goal is to free your mind.

While journaling is one effective method to process emotions, another way is talking to others.

Sometimes, a simple phone call with friends or family members can feel more liberating than anything else. Above all, these calls might help you understand that you’re not the only one going through a difficult time and fearing changes.

Disconnect to Connect on a Deeper Level

Due to fewer social interactions and local restrictions, I spent way more time glued to my screens. As a digital entrepreneur, I spend a lot of time online anyway, but the pandemic caused even more screen time as I spent way more time working than usual.

That’s why I consciously decided to take some time off from my screens and spend time doing things that are not tied to the internet.

I now spend more time cooking, ordered a painting kit, and spend more time reading books.

These activities help me to disconnect from the digital world and connect with myself. However, they also help me to be more present and productive when I get back to work.

How you can do it:

Ask yourself how you could spend less time on your digital devices and more with yourself or your loved ones.

Disconnecting from the world and connecting with yourself can help you be calm, relaxed, and mindful.

If you find it hard to put your phone away, you can start with small steps such as avoiding it for the first and the last 15 minutes of your day. Once you got used to that, you can increase the duration of your no-phone time and enjoy even more quality time.

Explore New Stuff

Our brains thrive on novelty. And according to brain coach Jim Kwik, it’s impossible to be anxious when you’re curious.

As Bryant H. McGill once stated:

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.”

And the best thing about curiosity in the 21st century is that you can find answers to almost any question.

The internet allows us to access infinite amounts of information and dive deep into new topics.

How you can do it:

The good news is that we can always try new things, even if we don’t have much time or financial resources.

You can try new workouts, new dishes, new hobbies such as painting, solve riddles or the Rubik’s Cube, learn a new language, and so much more.

All you need is curiosity and the burning desire to learn or create something new. Once you’re dedicated, you can explore hundreds, if not thousands, of new things.

Expand Your Dreams

After talking to hundreds of people, I realized that 2020 discouraged many of us.

You might have set courageous goals at the beginning of the year, which you couldn’t accomplish because of the pandemic or other happenings that have been going on.

But the truth is that your life is not about setting and achieving goals.

Your life is about who you become during that journey.

And each time you don’t accomplish a goal, you learn more about yourself and grow into a new version of yourself.

However, not achieving your goals doesn’t mean that you should devalue them or set smaller goals next time.

Instead, you should allow yourself to dream big and visualize your wildest desires, no matter how surreal it seems like right now.

How you can do it:

You’ll never be able to control everything that’s going on around you. But you’re able to control everything that’s going on in your mind.

And the truth is that there’s nothing more energizing than having plans for the future.

I had lots of plans for traveling this year, but couldn’t go on many vacations. However, I’ve already started to make plans for the upcoming years by downloading travel guides for the countries I want to visit. This helps me to stay excited about the future and look forward to it.

If you don’t have a grand vision of your future life, you won’t give your best to live up to it. If you, however, have a burning desire to turn your big goals into a reality, you’ll be giving your best and find solutions, even if you face unexpected obstacles.

“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.”
— Steve Garvey

Go on a Dopamine Detox

Did you ever wonder why your brain wants what it wants?

In many cases, the neurotransmitter dopamine is the driving force behind our wants and cravings. It’s what makes you want and desire.

Whenever we crave something, we’re on a dopamine high. Dopamine pushes you to scroll through one more social media profile, eat one more piece of chocolate, watch one more episode, or gamble one more time.

The problem with dopamine is that most of us experience a constant dopamine overflow. Rushes of dopamine force you to want more of whatever you’re doing, even if the completion doesn’t make you feel any better.

This kind of dopamine addiction is quite dangerous because it creates a toxic cycle that’s hard to escape. A typical toxic cycle is the overconsumption of sugar; others are shopping or excessive usage of social media.

Every time you refresh your news page, you get a new fuel of dopamine that keeps you addicted to the sense of excitement.

That’s why a dopamine detox can help you take control over your mind by obtaining from all the things that control you. Instead, you aim to take full responsibility for your desires.

If you ever tried meditation but failed to meditate for a minimum of 5–10 minutes, it likely means that you’re overthinking and overstimulated. That’s a good sign to start a dopamine detox and allow yourself to breathe instead of continually worrying about new updates and stimuli.

How you can do it:

A dopamine detox helps you focus on the present moment and be fully aware of your environment instead of chasing the next rush of dopamine.

The goal of such a dopamine detox is to eliminate or minimize something that you feel addicted to. Depending on your situation, this can be a 12-hour, one day, one week, or even one month period.

In most cases, a day is a great start, but it usually takes longer to make a lasting change. And sometimes, you might even realize that you want to eliminate certain things forever.

You can easily start your own dopamine detox by following these steps:

  1. Decide what you want to avoid. Is there anything you feel addicted to? Your phone? Social media? The news? Coffee? Junk food?
  2. How exactly do you want to stay away from it? Do you want to eliminate it entirely or reduce the amount or time you spend on it? Make sure to set a realistic time frame. Staying away from social media for 30 days might be challenging. 24 hours, however, are doable for anyone.
  3. Create a list of “cans” and “can’ts” that represents your rules for the dopamine fast. Keep your rule book handy once you start your detox period.
  4. How can you be prepared for challenging situations? E.g., if you want to go on a sugar detox but are invited to a birthday party — what will you do? Will you make an exception and eat the cake, or will you stick to your detox? What do you do if people call you while you’re on a phone detox? Do you let them know about your detox, or do you pick up the phone anyway? If you’re well prepared, it’ll be easier to deal with these challenges.
  5. After your detox period, take some time to reflect on your experiences: How did it go? Do you feel better and have more control over temptations?
  6. The final step is asking yourself how you could incorporate having more control over your temptations into your daily life.

In addition to detoxing from the toxic stuff, you can also build new routines that can help you be more mindful instead of reactive. The most common practice is meditation.

However, you could also do journaling, practice yoga, paint something, or listen to your favorite songs without any distractions. Anything that helps you enjoy the present moment is a win.

Another way to be more mindful is to honor daily practices such as eating. Most people distract themselves by watching tv when eating their meals. What you should do instead is fully enjoying the process of nourishing your body.

You can also be more present during downtimes, such as when waiting in line. Quite often, we’re impatient and instantly look at our phones when we need to wait in line at the supermarket or wait for the bus.

Instead, we can take a few deep breaths, think about the good things that happened throughout the day, and allow our minds to wander instead of bombarding ourselves with new information.

What a dopamine detox ultimately does is increasing your resistance to temptation. And removing temptations helps you to live life on your terms instead of being the servant of society.

A dopamine detox won’t turn you into a different person, but it’ll help you make your own decision instead of being reactive to your circumstances.

Bottom Line

Difficult times can destroy you or build you up. It’s all about the choices you make every single day.

Resetting your brain is not a one-time event, but these are all things you can and should regularly. If practiced frequently, each of those steps will help you feel more refreshed and gain clarity, even if difficulties arise.

  • Honor your habits and stick to them, even if it feels challenging: Our brains love routines, so make sure to follow patterns that are proven to work.
  • Untangle your mind with a brain dump: Write down anything that comes to your mind. Putting your thoughts on a piece of paper will help you get it out of your mind.
  • Disconnect from the digital world to connect with yourself: Allow yourself to be offline so that you can be fully present in real life.
  • Allow yourself to be curious and explore new stuff: Your brain loves novelty, so don’t hold yourself back from learning and exploring, even if you’re stuck at home.
  • Don’t stop dreaming: Having a vision helps us perform at our best and stay excited about the future. The best is yet to come, so don’t stop envisioning your future life.
  • Go on a dopamine detox to take control over your temptations: Don’t allow your surroundings to control your mind and life.

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