Mind Over Matter: Seven Daily Rituals To Enhance Your Brain Health
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Stress seem to be an integral part of business today, and it’s often been perceived as a badge of honor– something to attest to our professionalism and commitment to work. However, too much stress -especially in the times we are currently living through- can be counterproductive. Here are a few powerful, and perhaps most importantly, painless changes you can make today to enhance your brain’s health, and make you more productive and efficient, all while lowering your stress levels too.
1. Early to bed, early to rise A good night’s sleep goes a long way to make you more productive, because deep sleep facilitates healthy brain function, builds immunity, and even repairs muscle. According to research by LiveScience, lack of sleep impedes communication between our brain cells, which can lead to temporary mental lapses and affect our memory and perception. Therefore, try and commit to a fixed bed-time, ideally sleeping between 8pm and 12am (shown to be the prime bracket for rapid eye moment (REM) and non-REM sleep) to start forging a habit and regulate your circadian rhythm. Adequate sleep improves concentration, memory, and problem-solving capabilities. And, it’s no coincidence that a huge number of successful entrepreneurs are extremely early risers. The old adage wasn’t wrong!
2. Declutter your mind with exercise and meditation This has been scientifically proven to be an excellent way to kick start your day. Daily meditation coupled with exercise is a great outlet to both clear your mind and help you plan for the day ahead. In fact, just a 20-minute run in the morning will go a long way in boosting your dopamine and norepinephrine levels, improving your motivation and productivity for the day in return. (And no, this does not have to be done outdoors—several fitness enthusiasts have shown this can be done even while staying home and respecting self-isolation and social distancing measures!) Furthermore, 10 minutes of meditation right after waking up allows your brain to take advantage of its creative alpha waves to start off your day right. Some great apps to help you with that include Headspace and Calm. Meditation also facilitates visualization and prioritization, ensuring that your day can be as productive as possible.
3. Eat the frog, and follow the 80/20 rule The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of outcomes are a result of 20% of activities. So, prioritize your tasks, and focus on the most important things first. Not only will you get the most pressing business done early, but you’ll also spend less time on the small things, saving a surprisingly large amount of time and energy. Furthermore, this also minimizes the chances of procrastination seeping in, because handling one task at a time wouldn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed, which is a nice segue to the next step.
4. Break it down Big tasks can be daunting, so why not approach them step by step? Breaking a big job into a number of smaller tasks that can be accomplished relatively easily will greatly enhance your likelihood of completing it without feeling overwhelmed.
5. Consciously unplug from the grid Set aside specific times of the day and plan breaks. Whether it’s with reading a book, making a coffee for yourself, or a chat with a friend, it must be a total unplug. This means no checking your emails mid-read, no answering calls when you’re sipping coffee, no distractions when you’re catching up with a friend. Be mindful of what you’re doing in the moment, and really try to switch off. You’ll return to your work sharper, and with more enthusiasm.
6. Use hidden time There are many bundles of time scattered throughout our day that we take for granted. Often, when we’re in the process of completing a task there is a lull in our activity– this is a great opportunity to use this time to get something else done. Waiting for feedback from a client? Why not tackle some administration you’ve been putting off! Waiting on a delivery? That’s perfect time for a stock take! Make use of hidden time; it’s a marvelous thing.
7. Be blown away by brain training Brain training is a powerful way to not only conquer stress and anxiety, but also improve focus and productivity. Non-invasive brain training techniques like neurofeedback use our own brain’s self-regulation mechanisms to improve its performance. At its essence, it’s like being able to put a mirror inside our brain, so it can see the flaws, and then go about correcting them. It’s an amazing tool to enhance brain power, and make our minds sharper.