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People often say “the best things in life are free.” Certainly there are some people who would disagree with this, but that is not what this article is about.
4 Free Ways to Improve Your Brain & Reduce Stress
Our brains are amazing. All the things in your life like mobile phones, desks, tables, light bulbs, toilets, were all once a mere thought from a human being’s brain. It is interesting how important our brains are, and how little we focus our attention on maintaining and training the control panel for our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Without further writer’s fluff, I give you four free things to improve your brain.
1. White Noise App
This app, and the optional White Noise Market app, offer a large collection of relaxing sounds to sooth your mind. My personal favorite is “Ocean Waves Crashing,” which I am listening to as I write this. I fall asleep every night to “Brown Noise,” which is a specific “white noise” sound to drown out the sound of traffic and neighbors. If you like the sound of traffic and people chattering, they have you covered with “Crowded Room” and “City Streets.” I use this app to help me focus on tasks, meditate, and fall asleep. Best of all, the lite version is free and while ads are present, the ads do not disrupt the functionality of the app. Our brains respond well to sound, and process is quicker than light and visual stimuli. Using White Noise app can help you relax and process quicker than using a visual tool.
2. Morning Meditation
Meditation is building a reputation for helping people improve their productivity, reduce stress, and raise stress tolerance. Many successful people like Oprah Winfrey credit meditation with increasing their self-awareness—it is an amazing tool and it is so good for you. I know many Agnostic people whom struggle with meditation because it seems too airy fairy. Meditation is not made-up fluff, it is a human ritual with roots in new age philosophy, but it is also an evidence/empirical-based practice utilized in treatment plans for people with severe depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder.
LiveAndDare.com has a great blog post, “The Web’s Top Non-Sectarian Meditation Blogs,” which can be used as a resource for finding secular-based meditation exercises. You can also use the White Noise app for some pleasant sounds to meditate to. I also recommend YouTube accounts: Mantra Malta, I use their “Meditation to Start your Day” video almost every morning. The Honest Guys have so many great guided meditation videos for so many different meditation goals. And best of all, all these options are totally free.
3. Puzzle Apps
I was so resistant to this idea. “Why would I want to do something as stressful as a puzzle when I am already so stressed?” As I grow older, I am learning that so many solutions in life are counter-intuitive. It is very difficult to focus on your stress when you are making your brain solve a puzzle. These puzzles don’t need to be difficult, so if you are a beginner, don’t frustrate yourself by taking on the most advanced puzzle. In my house, we have a jigsaw puzzle of the Canadian Aurora Borealis localized entirely on our kitchen table (a little Simpsons humor). A real physical puzzle is a great way to relieve stress and feed your brain’s reward system that elicits the oh-so-sweet “I completed something” feeling. But unless you already have a puzzle, they’re not free! You can get a jigsaw puzzle app, but I prefer Sudoku, and Crossword apps. Completing a puzzle builds your critical thinking skills, and once you complete the puzzle your brain releases dopamine which feeds your reward system. This release will motivate you to complete other tasks.
4. A Library Card
Growing up, we were encouraged to “visit your local library.” Ah, the 90s. When the internet became a big deal, people were freaking out that it would eventually make libraries obsolete. Counter-intuitiveness wins again! It has made libraries even better, and the invention of e-Books means you can read stuff on your phone or tablet all the time for free. We live in an age where you can learn to do, be, or make anything.
Go to your library, get a library card if you don’t have one. Ask your local librarian if there are e-Book apps your library opts in to. My library has two e-book apps it subscribes to in addition to their own app.
The library is a great resource where you can connect to the internet for free, and get help for school work or job searches. I am always pleasantly surprised at what my librarian can help me do.