Looking for a simple yet effective way to refresh your mind? Try these five exercises:


  • Play mentally challenging games, such as crossword puzzles or chess. Or browse the dictionary to improve your vocabulary.

  • Refocus a tired mind by first resting your elbows on your desk. Then, drop your head and interlace your fingers over the top of your skull. Gently press the heels of your hands into the skull just above the ears. Breathe slowly and deeply for one to five minutes. This exercise relaxes and reconnects all the meridians (the energy circuitry) in your head.

  • Tone your brain. Hold your breath for 30 seconds, then dramatically exhale to release a flood of oxygen to the brain. Do this brain-toning exercise once an hour at work.

  • Increase focus while reading. Some "brain buttons" are located directly over the carotid arteries, and when massaged or held they facilitate a relaxed area for the arteries to carry fresh, oxygenated blood through the brain. Though one-fiftieth of our body weight, the brain uses one-fifth of the body's oxygen. To improve your focus, place one hand on your navel and the other hand just below the collarbone. Rub points to the right and left of your sternum and feel alertness return. If you have carotid artery disease, consult a health care professional before trying this exercise.

  • Stay alert and focused by using "balance buttons" to relax the neck muscles and to stimulate the neurological circuitry between brain and body. Touch two fingers of one hand to the indentations at the base of your skull behind one ear. Rest your other hand on the navel. Breathing deeply, imagine the energy in your belly rising. After a minute, repeat the exercise with two fingers behind the other ear.

    —L.D.

    Source: Barbara Smith; Brain Gym by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison (Educational Kinesiology Foundation, 1989).