Did you know that the human brain boasts 6,000 miles of wiring and cabling, and is capable of processing up to 30 billion bits of information per second through its amazing 100,000-mile network of nerve fibres. A reaction in one neuron can spread to hundreds of thousands of others in a span of less than 20 milliseconds – about ten times faster than you blink! But how does this relate to intellectual wellness?
Your brain is so fast, that you are not consciously aware of all the input, calculations, and adjustments it makes on a daily basis to keep your body engine running like clockwork. Just as your brain keeps your heart beating and lungs breathing, it also works on other subconsciously levels, dealing with your personal set of values and beliefs and aligning your decisions with them. ‘Belief’ is very important factor when it comes to intellectual wellness, as we will see shortly…
Intellectual Wellness and Positive Thinking
Some personality types prefer to rely on facts and practical information, but other people realize the benefits of thinking positively, even when there are no facts to support their ideas or imagination.
The effects of thinking positively was studied by Emile Coue, who first coined the Mantra: “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” It was believed he had a 93% success rate in curing patients just by the power of positive autosuggestion or belief.
Positive thinking helps us deal with the effects of stress better. Some of the benefits of positive thinking may include: increased life span, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, better psychological and physical well-being, greater resistance to the common cold, better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.
When we get stressed our body releases a hormone called cortisol which is effective in times of real danger to enable the flight or fight response, however, is rarely needed on a day to day basis in the Western World. If this hormone is not controlled, it will destroy brain cells, resulting in loss of memory and premature aging.
To naturally reduce cortisol in your body, regularly repeat positive mantras like the one above, switch to a healthy diet, exercise regularly, do deep breathing exercises in Yoga or meditation, laugh – really laugh hard, have a relaxing bath with essential oils such as lavender or eucalyptus, and get a good night’s rest.
Despite living in a society richer with information and opportunities than at any other time in history, many people suffer from long-term stress. Instead of being the primeval stress of hunting and gathering or fighting against marauding tribes seeking to loot your supplies, now we are faced with a fast-pace of life, inflation, taxes, mortgages, spiraling debt, rocketing bills, social media with all its entrapments, and worrisome scientific innovations that make us believe we are living in a futuristic sci-fi movie now. As it is impossible not to be affected by stress, we MUST work hard to maintain and improve our intellectual wellness. If you think you are suffering from mental exhaustion, read our post here to recover.
How to Improve Intellectual Wellness?
All aspects of thinking should be challenged and improved. These include:
Other ways you can improve your intellectual wellness includes being open to culture, art and travel experiences.
Getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself in the areas of: public speaking, learning a new skill, volunteering or engaging in a stimulating sport, such as rock climbing or surfing.
Value creativity, curiosity and lifelong learning by reading at least 1 new book per month, learning a new musical instrument, or taking up a new language.
Make an effort to diversify your interests and hobbies so you have more in common with other people. Try and keep abreast of local news and events so you have something to say in conversation. Practice debating new topics of interest with a close friend so that you have more of a chance of remembering them.
Use flashcards when sharpening your memory. As you improve your memory on one topic, the rest of your memory will improve too, like a muscle.
Eat great brain foods fish rich with omega-3 essential fatty acids, blueberries, avocados, beans, nuts, seeds and grain.
Listen to great brain music such as Mozart or Beethoven, or try relaxing music designed to stimulate alpha brain waves which are said to be good for healing, increasing IQ, and encouraging creativity.
How Intellectual Wellness is affected by Social Support
Your friends can help you relieve much stress by letting you talk. You have probably heard of the expression, ‘vent’ and ‘let off steam.’ The stress that we hold inside our bodies, muscles, and lungs can be released, just by talking to someone we trust.
Other ways we can receive support is when we are respected and believed in. Case in point, a mother who believes her son is highly intelligent can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. This quote is from an interview with the well-known inventor, Thomas Edison:
“One day I overheard the teacher tell the inspector that I was “addled” and it would not be worthwhile keeping me in school any longer. I was so hurt by this last straw that I burst out crying and went home and told my mother about it. Then I found out what a good thing a good mother is. She came out as my strong defender. Mother love was aroused, mother pride wounded to the quick. She brought me back to the school and angrily told the teacher that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that I had more brains than he himself, and a lot more talk like that. In fact, she was the most enthusiastic champion a boy ever had, and I determined right then that I would be worthy of her and show her that her confidence was not misplaced.” – Thomas Edison, Famous Inventor
Whether it is belief that you will succeed, or belief that your problems are all too insurmountable, in all likelihood, whatever you focus on will become your reality!
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