Spouse 101

5 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp

Photo Credit: Alessandro Valli

We blame the deployment gnome for the craziness that comes after our spouses leave. And many of us say the kids took away our ability to think straight. But maybe it’s not the gnome making everything fall apart or the kids who are making you feel out of sorts. Take a look at what’s going on in your life that is causing you to be distracted and giving you a fuzzy brain.

You might find that you are doing some things that are sabotaging your mental sharpness!

Yawn! I’m so tired!

The truth is that sometimes we stay up way too late to catch up on our favorite show or maybe you get up before the sun because the dog wants to be let outside. Too little sleep means you’ll be less focused, slower to react, and more forgetful during the day.

How much sleep do you need to keep your brain functioning well? The answer is not the same for everyone, but around seven seems to be the key number. Don’t go overboard. Too much sleep can make you as distracted as too little! But the right amount will keep you focused enough to remember to get the oil changed on the car so the deployment gnome doesn’t make it breakdown.

Need help with your math?

We get just as frustrated as our kids when it comes to their homework but, instead of throwing up your hands and walking away, help your kids work through the problems and exercise your brain. Challenging your mind with something new can be compared to trying out a new exercise. Just like your body gets used to doing the same activities over and over again, your brain needs new challenges to stay fit.

Your child’s homework may be an easy opportunity to get the work done. Don’t have kids? Try taking a class at a local community college or read a book that is outside your comfort zone or calculate the amount of change you’ll receive from the clerk before they ring it in. You’ll be surprised how these little mental exercises will keep your brain fresh to solve even bigger problems.

Where’s your leash?

Poor Major Doggie. You’re way too tired to take him for a walk since daddy deployed. But not getting out for your daily walk means less exercise and fewer trips outside. The truth is you may be busy and a deployment, a move, or a new job makes you even busier, but activities that get your heart rate up will help you to maintain better memory and cognition than a game of online solitaire. 

And getting outside is a great way to get those cobwebs out of your brain! Compare how you feel after sitting at a desk all day versus how you feel after taking a walk during lunch. There’s no disputing the fact that fresh air can refocus your thoughts to help you tackle the rest of the day (and everything the deployment gnome is dishing out!).

So he did what with who?

Scrolling through Facebook or staring at your phone can put your brain into a virtual coma. Have you ever seen kids after an hour of television? They barely look up from the screen when you ask them a question and probably won’t remember you even asked it.

I’m not going to tell you to cut out technology altogether (that wouldn’t be realistic!) but what about keeping track of it for just one day? Check out a new app for your iPhone called Moment which will track your usage and tell you when you are coming close to a pre-set cap. Maybe you won’t be surprised how much time you spend scrolling but see if you can cut back a little each day.

What’s the point of limiting your technology use? Looking at Facebook, a quick phone call, or texting are distracting and may actually be making us dumber! So don’t blame the kids for making you lose your mind. It may just be your phone or tablet that is sucking the life out of your brain.


Where are those yoga pants?

Military life is so stress-free. Not. All that stress can dull your mind and cause you to make mistakes. Instead of pushing relaxation to the bottom of your list, combine your need for physical exercise with your desire to sharpen your mind by practicing yoga. Studies have shown that the breathing and meditation aspects of yoga may extend outside of the classroom to help you focus during everyday activities. So dig out that Groupon for a local class and start wearing those yoga pants to do yoga! Not only will your body thank you but your brain will get an extra boost.

Keeping that brain sharp will keep you from having to search for those darn keys so often. You may also find you can get tasks down quicker and stay better organized which will help you avoid the curse of the deployment gnome. Pick one tip to try out today or let us know: how do you keep your brain healthy?


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