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4 Amazing Things Your Brain Can Do: Women’s Health

This April, we’re teaming up with Women’s Health. All month long on our blog, the mag’s editors will be sharing tiny tweaks that produce big results—meaning tips on easy ways you can improve your overall wellbeing. 

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You know your mind is great at solving complex problems and daydreaming about Ryan Gosling, but it can do a lot more than that. Your brain can actually control everything from your PMS to your weight. But there’s a catch: If you’re not taking care of it, your brain can throw all these areas out of whack. Here’s how to maximize your mind to reap big benefits in all areas of your life:

Switch Off Stress and Anxiety

Here’s the good news: Women’s brains are significantly more active than men’s brains, especially in the prefrontal cortex—the area involved in judgment, impulse control, planning, empathy, and more—says Daniel Amen, M.D., author of the new book Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. But a super-active prefrontal cortex comes with its own set of challenges. “Because of that increased activity, women also worry more and have trouble letting go of things,” Amen says. His advice: Give your brain a break with regular stress-management techniques—like meditation, guided imagery, or even a massage. “Just ten minutes a day to take your brain somewhere else will decrease cortisol production,” says Amen. And cutting that stress hormone will make you happier, wiser, and more productive.

Control Your Sugar Cravings

That irresistible urge to devour an entire bag of chips isn’t coming from your stomach — it’s coming from your noggin. Those cravings kick in when your brain is being deprived. Low levels of vitamin D, low blood sugar, and not enough sleep are all associated with lower blood flow to the brain, says Amen, which results in bad decisions. Boost your self-control by giving your brain what it wants: eight hours of sleep, healthy snacks throughout the day, and additional supplements as directed by your doctor.

Ease PMS

If you turn into an irrational, carb-obsessed mess before your period, blame it on your brain—not just your hormones. “Progesterone makes you feel relaxed and estrogen helps you think clearly, and both of them drop before your cycle,” says Amen. To counteract this effect, your brain needs a boost of serotonin. Carbohydrates will do the trick (which is why bagels look even more delicious this time of the month), but make sure to quell the craving with healthy options. “A smart carb would be a sweet potato or an apple,” says Amen. Still feeling cranky? Go for a run. Exercising gives you a huge boost of serotonin.

Increase Your Intuition

There’s a reason why women tend to have more gut feelings than men: Female brains are actually better at reading social cues and picking up on subtle differences. But just because your brain notices something—like an awkward glance from a coworker—that doesn’t mean you’ll always interpret it correctly. “It’s important to honor it, but at the same time question it,” says Amen. Plus, your gut is more likely to be wrong if you’re running on too little sleep or food. “There are different ways we tend to distort things, so you want to be good at talking back to your brain,” says Amen. The good news: The more you question your instincts, the better you’ll get at interpreting your gut.

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  1. citystarling reblogged this from birchbox
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  3. barelytolerable reblogged this from birchbox and added:
    UGH Jesus, Birchbox, because a woman’s brain is only good if it can KEEP HER FROM GAINING WEIGHT OR BECOMING...
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  7. birchbox posted this