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Winter Break for Your Brain

The benefits of “idle time” for your brain

· meditation,holidays,Idle Activity

Here at Thinking Habitats, we’ve been thinking pretty hard all year long. From our very first blog post about beating the summer slide, through our five-part series on the importance of college, career, and civic readiness, we’ve written about some high-powered topics in the world of critical thinking. But this week, in observance of the many wintertime holidays celebrated all over the world...

We’re taking a little break -- and we think you should, too!

The holiday season can be especially taxing on our brains. There’s so much to do, and between work, school, and family obligations, there’s really so little time. It’s great to take time to reconnect with friends, visit family, share gifts and stories, cook a wholesome meal, and everything else that comes with the holidays, but it can also be stressful to manage. Combine these with the regular stresses of our busy modern lives, and you’ve got a recipe for holiday “burnout.”

Thankfully, though, there are some simple ways we can give our brains a little time off, and the holiday season is the perfect time to start making a habit of doing so. In 2013, Scientific American published a great article sharing the benefits of “idle” activities like walking in nature, napping, and meditation can help to restore and replenish your mental, physical, and emotional energy levels (Jabr, 2013).

Meditation specifically, according to Julie Corliss of the Harvard Heart Letter, can ease many symptoms of generalized stress, anxiety, and pain. To some, the word “meditation” is a bit intimidating. It invokes images of intense concentration or some transcendental blankness of the mind. We love this video from Zen Circle World; it introduces the concept of meditation in a simple way. The techniques in the video allow you to practice mediation at any time, in any place.

So whether you’re enduring uncomfortable dinner table conversations, braving the crowds at the shopping mall, or anything in between, we encourage you to take a few moments to try out the art of meditation this season. Your brain will thank you!


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