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Thursday, May 23, 2024

KidsMatter 2 Us – To be your best, give your brain a rest

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When it comes to giving our brains a rest, most teens (and adults) would agree that it is a great idea, but who has the time? One cannot take a nap during an algebra class (or client meeting); and while eight hours of sleep every night is a great plan, sports, homework or other obligations may prevent it. Fortunately, researchers have learned that refreshing the brain requires more than additional sleep.

Because resting brains are still active, overworked brains benefit immediately from what researchers call active rest. Active rest means regularly disconnecting from work and allowing the brain to play. For teens to do the necessary (classes, homework, outside jobs, sports) more creatively, efficiently and effectively, they should also engage in active rest.

Here are four habits teens (and adults) can cultivate to practice active rest:

  • Get physical. – Physical exercise – whether a strenuous workout, a walk, or light stretching – can reset the mind and allow teens to approach tasks with renewed energy and clear thinking.
  • Take a nature break. – Stepping outside, breathing fresh air, or just sitting in nature for a short time invigorates the brain. Just 20 minutes a day outside can improve mental focus and increase the ability to concentrate.
  • Practice a hobby. – Hobbies are a vacation for the brain. Though they may require learning, practice, and concentration, the enjoyment level makes them seem like play. The brain gets a recess, and you’ll return to work with renewed energy.
  • Turn off social media. – Many teens (and adults) relax by scrolling through social media.

Rather than refreshing the brain, this practice increases fatigue and uses time that could be spent exercising, experiencing nature or engaging in a fun hobby. Track social media use for a day and then cut it in half. Your brain will thank you for it!

We hope you will enjoy practicing these tips during May, Mental Health Awareness Month.
For more tips and information for youth and families, please visit kidsmatter2us.org.

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Nina Menis
Nina Menis
Nina M. Menis serves as CEO & Executive Director of KidsMatter. Nina grew up in Naperville and enjoyed raising a family in Naperville. Nina has worked in advancement for both public and private P-20 educational institutions and area nonprofits for more than 30 years. Contact Nina (pronounced nine-eh) at nina@kidsmatter2us.org or (630) 864-3974.
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