Every once in a while, the human brain needs to be reset in the same way as any system that computes.
One can’t think or function without the regular habit of sleep (or at least, power naps) – and certainly, one can’t play a proper game of bridge when you are too stressed or tired.
Playing against a tired bridge player is much like expecting tennis, but getting squash. Instead of an active player, you’re bouncing your plays off a solid wall.
Are you too tired or stressed, but it’s close to an active game?
Here’s a bit of advice for resetting your brain at bridge.
1: The Song Solution
Music has the ability to enhance flow to the thinking parts of the brain, and it triggers the release of different hormones depending on what you’re listening to and when.
It’s a basic, carnal response from the brain. Use it for bridge!
Listening to the right song allows your brain to wake up, get ready, and enter a mindset that means a better game.
2: Stretch – Really
Stretching is like the nutritional pyramid, or most announcement posters people pass by at their workplace. People know that it’s there (and they should follow it), but it’s just as easy to forget about as you move past.
A stretch, where possible, is always a good idea before a game. It helps blood flow to increase, and it helps the body to “work off” any muscle tension. Overall, it just generally helps.
No, experts are not kidding when they recommend a stretch.
And I’m definitely not kidding when I recommend it for bridge.
3: Feed Your Head
There are many world cultures who have unspoken rules to feed visitors, strangers, and friends whenever they pass by. It’s an almost universal rule of kindness.
As I see it, eating something should also be a universal rule of bridge.
The brain doesn’t function on an empty tank.
It can, for a while, but signs of dehydration and hunger are first distracting (and when left longer, dangerous).
Struggling to focus on your bridge game?
Feed your head.
4: Jog (But With Memory)
Reciting lists, remembering events, or recalling lyrics are just some of the ways in which players can “test” the current capacity of their brain. Ask your mind to recall basic things you are already familiar with, and the effect is often positive. It could be positive for reducing your fatigue at the table, too.
Jogging your memory when fatigued can extend your focus for just long enough to keep it on the game.
5: The Power Nap (& What It Means)
What people know as “power naps” is a sleep technique which allows the body to enter a certain level of deep sleep for a shorter stretch than a full night.
Simply, it involves sleeping without interruption for less than you think would be practical.
It works, and it has been working for night-shift employees for hundreds of years. When done correctly, the mind can function even with a short uninterrupted nap at the right time.
Aim for 20 minutes.
When you wake up, you’ll be far more ready for the game than before – and that’s a guarantee.