Have you ever pondered over a problem, put it to the back of your mind and then found a few days later that your brain suddenly pops up with a solution? And you wonder why you didn’t think of it straight away?
Any problems we have tend to hang around in our minds and start to make connections. It keeps going until it finds a solution. Our brains are always hard at work, so instead of trying to find a solution, it can be better to just try and relax and let it go. Our mind will carry on working in the background, trawling through our knowledge and experiences until it finds connections that will help us.
How often have you decided to ‘sleep on it’ and told yourself that ‘things will look differently in the morning’? Giving yourself distance from a problem and then coming back to it fresh, can often help you to refocus and look at a problem differently, and thereby find a solution.
So, can we help our subconscious, to focus on our problems for us, by using other techniques?
As well as sleeping or forgetting about it, the following have been suggested as ways of helping your subconscious along:
1. Distract yourself by turning your attention onto something else, that is not too complicated, that allows your sub-conscious to keep working on the more difficult problem. The solution may then come to you.
2. Engage in physical exercise, which is also good for relieving stress and making you feel good due to the endorphins. When you come back to the problem afterwards you may be more creative as a result.
3. Write down your problem in a letter to yourself. Explain all the details and try and be as specific as possible, including your thoughts and what you have already tried. Leave it for a few days and then read it. If a solution doesn’t appear then leave it a few more days.
So if you have a problem why not try one of these ideas to help you solve it.
Generally, taking a break is good for us as it has many benefits. That is why we advocate taking a break, especially at lunchtime, and we have many wellbeing activities to help you get away from the lab/office and chat to other researchers as part of our #researchwell campaign. Sessions on the LMS include (when dates available) Papercraft, Board Games and Knitting/crochet