Your brain thinks better after a vacationNicoElNino/Shutterstock
Don’t feel guilty about taking time off from work—studies show that vacations actually help you to be more productive. “Our brains are not machines that can work endlessly without a glitch,” says psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, author of Depression in Later Life and a professor at Adelphi University. “This is why it’s important to give yourself downtime, to allow your brain to rest, reboot, and return to functioning anew. Doing so allows the regulatory systems of your brain chill out.” Science backs this up: A review of research confirmed that downtime is necessary for mental processing.
Here’s why you have “a-ha” momentsRosa Araci Henriques/Shutterstock
Another reason why downtime is so important? It frees your brain to think creatively, leading to more mental breakthroughs, or “a-ha” moments, than if you were constantly working. Although they can seem to come on suddenly, studies show these eureka moments are actually the result of your mind working in the background. Other research shows why it can actually be better to take a break from the task at hand in order to solve problems—this discontinuity prompts a mental restructuring that leads to the solution. Here are genius ways have more “eureka” moments.
You can train your brain to be happyeakkaluktemwanich/Shutterstock
According to psychologists, our brains have a “negativity bias” that might have helped our ancestors better recognize threats to their survival. But in our modern world, it would benefit our brains to have a more positive outlook on life. “You can train your brain to think positively, formulate happy thoughts, and counteract negative ones,” Dr. Serani says. Employing new thinking habits are at the heart of psychotherapy, she says. “Changing how your think can improve how your feel,” she says. Studies show practicing new thinking strategies by being mindful about positive experiences can actually alter the structure of the brain. Try these other 23 ways to improve your mood instantly.