Neuroplasticity Exercises to Stretch Your Mind!

If you’ve read my blog regularly, you know that I started stretching last year, soon followed by doing yoga (this was a post where I showed the inspiration for that). What I have learned is that being flexible is so important to our health. While I’ve been spending so much time on getting flexible, it’s gotten me to thinking. Our physical bodies aren’t the only thing that can benefit from being flexible. Our lives in general can benefit from having a flexible mindset and attitude, too.

A Flexible Mindset Allows Creativity

flexible mindset

It’s true some people are more creative than others, but we need to allow ourselves the opportunity to try to be more creative. Don’t just tell yourself, “Oh, I can’t do that xyz thing. I’m not a creative person.” Get flexible with yourself! See, you’ve been thinking so long that you aren’t creative, or that you can’t do that xyz thing, that it’s like there is an INFLEXIBLE thought rolling through your mind. Stretch that thought-puppy out!!

You might think I’m kidding, but you really can do this–and you do so, by doing new things or by doing old things differently. Neuroscientists call this phenomena neuroplasticity–essentially, that “experience can actually change both the brain’s physical structure (anatomy) and functional organization (physiology). Yup–found that on wikipedia (among other places).

Stop for a minute and consider the possibility and opportunity if you DID do that xyz thing. And then dip your toe into those unchartered waters, even just a little bit. You might be surprised, and find all sorts of things that you are good at that you never knew. Whether it is marketing, writing, drawing, crafting, sewing, or whatever, there are a lot of creative things you can be doing.

Creativity is an important outlet, offering stress relief, opportunities to bond with other people, and can be therapeutic, adding to your sense of satisfaction of life.

And I’m not just talking art! Creativity is useful in many aspects of your life. Use your creativity to re-organize your office (or whatever you need organized) in a new way. Use your creativity to market yourself on your blog or LinkedIn page. Think of new ways of doing things—do your research if you can’t think of new ways and see how other people are doing them—and try those things out.

10 Neuroplasticity Exercises to Flex and Stretch Your Mind!

Be flexible in what you do today. And to get you started, I’m going to give you a few things that you can do differently today or this weekend (small things) that might help get that creative muscle stretched out. Because sometimes just doing something differently than our normal routine can break up the fog in our minds. Consider these “exercises” for the mind, that will strengthen the creative muscle.

1. Drive home from work taking a different route.

2. If you walk around your plant/office building/place of work, getting from here to there, take a route that is different than you would normally take.

3. If you normally eat chicken for lunch, switch it up with something else, like tofu!

4. If you normally check your email when you log on to your computer, then don’t check it this time, until you have finished another online task.

5. Drink water instead of your normal drink of choice—just even once!

6. If you normally blog about fitness, blog about something entirely different and tell your audience you are doing a stretching/yoga exercise for your mind.

7. If you normally work out inside, go outside this time!

8. If you normally add sugar to your coffee or tea, don’t add any this time. And consider the taste and aroma as you drink it.

9. If you normally go home and watch TV, instead try reading a book. Or cleaning out your closet. Or something other than TV.

10. If you normally sleep in on Saturdays, try waking up early with a small project in mind to do.

Now go on out there and get your neuroplasticity on!

37 Responses to “Neuroplasticity Exercises to Stretch Your Mind!”

  1. Rena Hatch March 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Bethany!
    I love this post! You are so right on about the ability to change your way of thinking by trying something new. I often ask my clients, “What might you do differently?” when they are stuck in a habit of mind or habit of doing. It is so easy to get stuck in a way of thinking and being because it is safe and comfortable. Yet when we stretch ourselves, we create opportunities for possibilities and abundance!

    Hugs,
    ~Rena

    • Bethany Lee March 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Thanks Rena! That means a lot coming from you. And yes, I know you are often asking–what might you do differently–because I’m subscribed to your text messages–I love it when you ask us that–it’s a good reminder. :-)

  2. Jon Jefferson March 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    I have been working on just this very project of late. I am making a concerted effort to do things that stretch my mind and the boxes I live in a bit. No one ever wants to step out of their comfort zones, but it is when you step out that you find stuff you never thought you might find.

  3. Levi March 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    I like, I like, I like, I like!

    #6 – I am going to do this. Thank you Bethany! Time to stretch out my brain muscles!

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

      Yeah Levi!! Exercise isn’t just for our physical bodies, right?!

  4. Susan Cooper March 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    I really like this. I have always been one to find something to stretch my mind. It’s so easy to just be idle and not push one’s self but it really makes a difference in our overall life’s experiences when we do. I do love your list and have found a few good pointers for me from there.

    • Bethany Lee March 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Susan–you are totally a person to stretch your mind–I know this to be true. Glad you liked the list!!

  5. Susan Oakes March 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Great tips Bethany and only yesterday I was talking to a friend who has a business and she was quite inflexible in thinking about her business. I will pass this onto her.

    • Bethany Lee March 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

      Wow Susan! That’s a compliment to me–I really hope she thinks about it and maybe even tries something differently, or a different way of thinking about her business. It could be just the thing she needs!

  6. Geek Girl March 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Well done and well said my friend! How is it that you always come up with something I need at just the right time? Hmmm… :)

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Honey–I have no clue!

  7. Lea@runningfordummies March 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    I love this! I ALWAYS stretch my body, but never considered stretching my mind in this way. time to experiment. Thanks for the inspiration! SHARED! :)

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Awesome Lea!! I’m so excited that this post inspired you!! And it’s so true–our minds and bodies are connected–we need to do similar things with our mind/emotions that we do with our bodies. It’s all how we become stronger as a person. :-)

  8. Dan Meyers March 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Totally agree with this… It’s so easy to get stuck in one mindset and fight against anything that’s not routine. Gotta free your mind (and the rest will follow)

  9. Grace Duke March 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    I have to give this a try! Right now my routine is totally broken as I have a nasty cold, and so I’m not doing anything…but as soon as this subsides, I am going to mix things up and flex my mind with some of these exercises!

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      You go girl!! :-)

  10. Leora Wenger March 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    I like your list! Funny, some of them I do already, like reading instead of watching TV. I thought, instead of waking up early on Saturday, I should try sleeping in. I have a bad habit of waking up too early.

    Maybe one day when I need to walk to the bank or the library or the mailbox, I’ll take a longer route. I find if I take my camera with me, all sorts of possibilities open up. Especially now that spring is approaching.

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Longer routes to normal places = A+ in my book, as you know, Leora. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  11. Jeannette Paladino March 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Companies give rising stars “stretch” projects for which they may not have all the qualifications. They want to see how creative they are at problem solving. When I took my first blogging course it was a “stretch” and now I’m doing it for a living!

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      That’s really neat Jeannette–something that once was a stretch for you is now your break and butter! And kudos to you for doing it for a living. :-)

  12. Martha March 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    There are so many good suggestions in this post! I know when I’m having a hard time problem solving at work if I do something as simple as eat with my opposite hand sometimes the problem solves itself. Love your suggestions!

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Are you kidding me, Martha? I totally never thought of that one. I bet I’d spill a ton of food–but I’m going to try this one.

  13. Janelle March 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Bethany, I love this! I love the idea of stretching my mind. I was just reading with my boys a book that talks about leaving our comfort zones – stretching! – and it is a mental process.

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      Yep–leaving your comfort zone and stretching your mind go hand in hand. :-) Love that you are sharing this with your wonderful sons.

  14. Daniel Wallen March 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    I cannot like this enough. I already make an effort to do this, but you gave me some ideas. Very cool. This produced many smiles, thank you so much. :)

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      You are very welcome, Daniel.

  15. Jo-Anne March 20, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    I have been using the site Lumosity which they say is neuroplasticity to work out my mind so I get what you are saying here it is good to keep the mind active and to give it a work out. So often our minds are numb from no work……..

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      Yeah, we need to keep up the work, Jo-Anne. Our minds don’t just get numb, they get out of shape!

  16. Uzma March 20, 2013 at 2:56 am #

    “We all have fears. What matters is what we do when we are hesitant or nervous or afraid. When we turn away, we die a little inside, when we face a fear and do what we really want to do, we feel truly alive. Are you living?” — Jeff Haden

    We really need to challenge ourselves if don’t want to die a bud. By not doing the ordinary is when we evolve. Great post :)

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Uzma–I really like this quote–a lot! I also like what you added: “By not doing the ordinary is when we evolve.” This is so true. I think I could write a post on that. :-)

  17. Jeri March 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    The mind is most certainly a muscle that needs exercise, and the small exercises you list here can lead to taking on more challenges down the road. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a class on something new, but I’m starting to feel that itch…

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Take the class, Jeri! Just go for it!

  18. Crystal March 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Does cleaning out your closet count? That’s a “creative project” that I did last night that I don’t normally do! Ha! On a related note, you’re supposed to try to remember something you’ve forgotten on your own, before you look it up on google. Great ideas! Maybe I’ll drive home from work a different way tonight.

    • Bethany Jo Lee March 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Cleaning the closet totally helps Crystal! I love doing stuff like that because it feels like I’m airing out my mind at the same time. :-)
      And I love the idea of trying to remember something before googling it.

  19. Steve March 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Flexibility is such a good thing to have in both mind and body. When you’re too rigid, you can’t adapt to the world around you. At least that’s how I see things.

    I think your exercises for the brain are great. Go out and try new things. See what you like and don’t like. Even if you were to switch your chicken for tofu and didn’t like it that could be good for you. In fact, a lot of great experiences were when I did things I didn’t like. You never know what could happen if you just switch something up once in a while.

  20. Unis July 8, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    Good 1 ,, Mind is something great to be trained

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