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05/04/2018

Warm-Ups: They aren’t just for workouts and choir practice

Anything you want to be able to do on command needs practice and training on a regular basis in order to work for you. If you want to sing on command, you have to practice and, often times, warm-up your vocal cords in order to sound your best. In athletics, you have to train and work your muscles until the sport you do becomes like second nature.

Anything involving thinking or your brain, you have to do what you do on a regular basis and get good at it before you can sit down and say, “Okay, I’m going to do this homework now.” It’s the same with writing and acting, and reading when you’re young. You have to practice a lot before it becomes easy.

So, how can you “warm up” your brain? Let’s say you’re going to college and you need to sit down to do your assignment, but this is your first ever class and you’re working in software you have no idea how to use yet… that’s the point of the class. You sit down to do it, and can’t even begin to know where to start because you’re thinking of what you’re supposed to come up with but have no idea how to get there. Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed and playing video games or watching TV instead of working.

How can you jump-start your mind into happily chugging along, working on your assigned work, and doing well at it to build confidence as well?

I have some favorite ways of doing this, which I’ll share with you now. Usually, my mornings consist of waking up, getting the kids ready for school, having my coffee – yum – and playing some games online or free-writing in my journal or in Word.

Especially if I have a crazy dream, I try to write it down as far as I can remember first thing in the morning, otherwise I’ll forget, and there might be some amazing imaginary creatures or characters in there that I could use for a story. Writing these down not only exercises my comprehension and memory, but it also give my imagination a boost while increasing brain activity in general. If this doesn’t wake me up, then I don’t know what will.

So, here are some ideas to get yourself jump-started mentally, whether it’s in the morning or in the afternoon, whenever you sit down to do work, try doing one of these activities first:

Free-Writing

Free-Writing is a pretty well-known writing exercise, although I didn’t actually learn about it until college. This exercise basically consists of writing down every single thought you consciously have for a specific amount of time – say, 10 minutes – and seeing where your thought process leads you. You might surprise yourself. Just like the funny and often confusing twists and turns in conversation, your thoughts have a tendency not to stick to a single track and association ushers one topic to the next.

This particular exercise helps to get your creative juices flowing as well as your mind working in general. This is also a good way to brainstorm, so if you need ideas for something, just start writing and keep track of your thoughts and ideas – you’ll be surprised how many you’ll come up with!

Word Games

When you sit down to undertake the solving of a word game puzzle – or any other kind of puzzle – it exercises your mind, too. By troubleshooting word possibilities, maybe doing some research, or just pulling the solutions from your memory, these types of games exercise all sorts of area of your mind, which can definitely help to get your productivity going.

Other games like this include a word search game, Scrabble, Facebook’s Words with Friends, and many more. In each of these games, there is a problem and a solution to find, which means your overall comprehension and learning skills are also being trained.

The human being is always learning – always adding new information, and always figuring out how to be more efficient, especially when it comes to thinking about things and solving problems. If you can do mind warm-ups by playing a fun game, why on earth wouldn’t you? It’s just one more way to learn, get your brain in gear, and be that much more productive in the long run.

Other Games

Billiards is a great example of a game that requires a little planning, some calculation, and some thought before taking a shot. It’s fun, it’s an intelligent game, and it makes you put your mind to work without even knowing it.

Another example of games that take into consideration the trajectory of a ball is anything having to do with pinball… and that game called Hot Shot, also on Facebook. Any of these kinds of games will make you consider a little geometry before taking your turn, which definitely trains your mind to think about angles and warms up your brain. One of these might be good to use for if you need to do math homework. I used one for brainstorming ideas, as sort of an “underlying” activity while I was thinking of possibilities and ideas.

It worked like a charm! Within 15 minutes, I had 5 good ideas and they came more and more easily as I went on. All this from playing a game! I love it.

If all else fails….

Get up and do some chores

Yep, I’m serious.

When I start my day unloading and loading the dishwasher while I wait for my coffee to brew, I’ve got a tendency to be less exhausted throughout the day than if I sit right down and start working or writing or whatever. It could be something a small as switching over the laundry, loading dishes, unloading dishes, or vacuuming a room. Who cares? Sometimes, your body needs to do something physical that doesn’t involve sitting down.

This is especially important for those people attending school or working online. The internet brings with it a plethora of new opportunities while also dragging its own unique challenges with it. If you’re getting your degree online or work at home as a freelancer, you definitely need to get out of the chair every now and again and do something physical. Even if that something is just simply going for a short walk. It works! It will make you feel better. You could also eat some “brain food” as I call it. This includes cereal, granola, and dried fruit. Eating things like this when you need a boost will definitely help you out energy wise as well as in your mind.

Speaking of which… I feel some tiredness creeping in, so I’m going to get up and do some work and drink some water. I hope some of these activities help other students as well as people in general to get the idea train going.

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