Phase Two Practices

Recommended activities to fire the prefrontal cortex

  1. Organizing – if you like chores or yard work, this is an excellent natural evolution from Phase One to Phase Two. Organizing a cupboard or going through your closet is a highly beneficial mental activity. Don’t worry about doing the whole house at once, just 10-20 minutes. If you do just a little every day, you’ll soon finish entire projects and feel amazing for having done it.
  2. Thought-provoking reading – this is the step where you can up-level your reading practice. Good books for this section include educational books, philosophical books or maybe even self-help. You could also try reading some of the classics. The more difficult the read, the better it is for you.
  3. Learning something new – this can be something educational, like a language or entertaining, like juggling. The key to this option is ‘you need to be bad at it, at first.’ It must be something that requires your full attention. If you are naturally adept at anything, it goes in Phase One. Also, if you become skilled over time, you’ll move it to Phase One. You don’t need to take a class or commit to a program. You can check on YouTube or go to the library. There is no limit to the number of new things you can learn.
  4. Go somewhere new – vacations make us feel better because of the way they stimulate our frontal lobe. They allow us to relax, but you don’t need to go ‘away’ to get the same result.
    • a. Take a different route to places you go regularly.
      b. Go for a walk in a neighborhood you don’t know or take a drive in an unfamiliar area. Get lost. GPS will help you find your way home again if it gets too difficult but see if you can’t navigate a way back to more familiar surrounds on your own first.
      c. Check the tourist options for the city where you live.
      d. Do an online search to find quirky places or go geocaching.
      e. Search your town for parks or monuments.
      f. Even if you’ve lived where you are your entire life, there is likely a whole list of things you haven’t seen.
  5. Laughter – creating a laugh book or saving a few of your favorite memes to your phone is a great resource. There are stories upon stories of people using things like comedy to cure serious illness. Laughter is powerful medicine, and access to it exists in the frontal lobe of our brains.
  6. Upbeat music – play something that makes you want to sing and dance. Singing is a very complex function of the brain, fired by both the frontal and insular lobes. Songs that make you want to move your body also metabolize the excess norepinephrine. Spending some time every day in this state is very powerful.
  7. Non-dominant handwork – if you like coloring or paint by numbers or any of the other practices where you are filling a predefined space, switching the exercise to your non dominant hand is one of the favorites of the people I’ve worked with. You can also brush your teeth or lock and unlock doors. Anything you do with your dominant hand, doing it with your non-dominant hand becomes a great practice to trigger concentration. Remember, the rules to follow when coloring—yes, even with your non-dominant hand.
    • a. When coloring, remember to fill each space entirely.
      b. Try to stay within the lines. This will help with focus.
      c. Don’t judge the work. This isn’t about the art you produce. It’s about the brain function you’re stimulating.
      d. Take your time. It may be a month to complete a single page. That’s okay. Again, we’re focusing on the function, not the outcome.
  8. Complex craft patterns – if you like crafts, you might do a model airplane here or more complicated art projects like pottery or weaving. Again, remember to continue to up-level your skill, so you continue to fire the frontal lobe. Always remember; if it’s easy, it’s Phase One.
  9. Exercise – more strenuous exercise is allowed here. There are a couple of notes I would like to include when it comes to exercise.
    • a. Muscle squeezing exercises are the best here – Tai Chi, yoga, and strength training exercises are highly beneficial for metabolizing excess Norepinephrine. This function is one of the reasons it makes such a great anti-depressant. All early work should include an exercise program. Even if it’s five sit-ups, there is a benefit. One is better than none.
    • b. If you suffer anxiety or stress, please refrain from cardiovascular exercise until you have full control of your chemistry. Your heart is already being overworked and to continue to trigger adrenaline will only aggravate the imbalance already occurring in your system. I recommend not returning to any cardiovascular exercise programs until you are stress-free. Adding cardiovascular exercise is still a good option for people who suffer depression.
  10. Mindful meditation – if you are already adept at accurate mindfulness meditation practices, this is an excellent option for stress relief. If you are not an active meditator or if you struggle with meditation practices, take time to practice simple mindfulness practices. We all possess the ability to meditate when approached correctly. A good way to begin is a simple body scan. Begin with your toes or the top of your head. Pause and recognize each part of your body individually. Don’t try to change how you feel, just become aware.
  11. Finally, search online for ‘activities to fire the frontal lobe.’ They are everywhere. The frontal lobe conversation is a favorite subject of our time. There are videos and music and apps in abundance. Again, not everything works for everyone, so find the activities which give you the results of feeling better. Keep track of how you feel before and after your exercises and you’ll soon find what works best for you.

Questions for Contemplation