Your schedule is hectic, you go from work to home and take your job with you, all the way into the bedroom. Every day is ruled by schedules, meetings, and sales pitches; your brain is foggy and constantly tired. You find it hard to think critically, solve problems, or even pay much attention to things; it feels like you’re walking around in a daze and when you do try to relax, you find it hard – sound familiar?

This is because your brain has become conditioned to do these things over a period of time and it’s a physiological phenomenon. As you continue this stress-filled routine, neural pathways in your brain fix themselves and your mind conditions itself to working in this manner.

This ability of the brain is called neuroplasticity; it can be defined as the brain’s ability to organize and then reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout your life. In simple terms, the neurons in your brain adjust to compensate for your thoughts and activities.

Today’s fast-paced world demands so much that your neural pathways have been formed to facilitate anxiety, stress, and more work.

What you need to do is reset your brain and condition it to do the exact opposite. 

Our mind can be trained to do anything; it just requires a little bit of perseverance, determination, and time. An added benefit is that your body – which has also suffered from the negative consequences of a hectic lifestyle – also becomes healthier! So here are eight ways you can reset your brain and be more productive, healthy, and happy.

1. Have a definite bedtime.

Sleep is the first thing that goes in the wake of a fast-paced lifestyle and you need to condition yourself to build it back up. The first few times will be hard, but soon, you’ll automatically associate that 10:30 p.m., tick-tock to be your lullaby.

No matter what happens, stick to this bedtime until it becomes instinct for you to start drifting off around this hour. 

2. Have a morning and a bedtime routine. 

When you make something a habit, it soon turns into a natural instinct, which is basically how you reset your brain. One good bedtime and morning routine is to meditate for at least ten to twenty minutes.

It’ll take some practice, but soon, you’ll be able to stay focused without thinking about all the things you need to do that day or the next day.

3. Cut out the caffeine.

Coffee, while it helps wake you up and keeps you going even when you’re sleepy, is a bad idea for someone trying to turn their lifestyle around. No matter how useful a shot of espresso is, it’s not a replacement for sleep. It contributes to brain hyperactivity, which prevents you from resting.

If you absolutely must have caffeine, make it part of your morning routine but try not to make it a staple, especially in the evenings.

4. Make exercise a part of your morning routine. 

As soon as you’re up, get dressed and go for a walk. You needn’t go to the gym; just a quick walk around the neighborhood is enough. The fresh air – full of crisp oxygen – will wake you up and invigorate you.

The endorphin release is good for your energy levels and will keep your brain active.

5. Do breathing exercises.

You don’t have to do yoga; just simple breathing is enough. And you should do it early in the morning. This is when the air is the cleanest and freshest – breathing in deeply at this time is not only relaxing but forces more active oxygen content, untainted by pollution, to go to your brain, which is a definite must for a brain reset. It’ll give you energy and help reduce fatigue.

6. Watch what you eat.

A lot of people have sugar and junk addiction and those are not just terms – you are actually fighting a physiologically craving for sugar in some form or the other. Your brain is addicted to it. A brain reset may mean giving up sugar cold turkey for the next few days until you can detox completely. Unlike a drug addiction, it won’t damage your system, and it also will not be easy.

Switch from processed foods to protein and fiber rich foods; it will help get rid of the sluggish feeling in your body and give you energy instead of calories.

7. Turn off all gadgets at bedtime.

It’s tempting to sleep with your phone or your laptop, but the radiation from them has been proven to have a negative effect on sleep patterns. Plus those annoying pings are hard to ignore. Let work and social time be just that, and sleep time be a time of rest. 

If your phone is your alarm clock, use a traditional alarm clock instead. 

8. Have a designated playtime. 

You need to let loose, relax and have fun – go out with family, spend time with friends and try to remember why you’re working as hard as you are. Laughter has been proven to reduce stress, improve oxygenation, and lower blood pressure.

Ultimately, keep in mind that your brain needs rest, relaxation, as well as rejuvenation to be more productive. It’s as much physiology as it is psychology.

Switching to a healthier lifestyle will improve your brain and body by reducing your risks of other chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity — so, you’ll be happier and healthier!

Neuroplasticity dictates that you can change and condition your mind into anything!

All the best, 

Dr. Antwala