7 EASY TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BRAIN
Working in harmony with your brain will achieve increased productivity, reduced stress, and better mental well-being. Simple to implement, these brain-friendly strategies do not require any financial outlay, massive commitment or hard work – yet so many organisations appear to discourage this healthy way of getting things done. So, inspire others and:
Prioritise sleep: Sleep is essential for your brain to function properly. Find the amount that works for you to awake without an alarm. Research suggests this is likely to be 7-8 hours of sleep per night to allow your brain to declutter itself, rest, and recharge. Ask yourself these questions (be honest!): Do you go to bed when you’re tired in the evening, or do you watch ‘just one more’ episode? Is your bedroom reserved just for sleeping (and maybe one ‘other’ activity), or do you work, game and spend time on your phone there? Is it a dumping ground for all sorts of things not related to sleeping? How comfortable is your bed? How dark is your bedroom? (My sleep is deeper since using blackout blinds).
Break for your brain: Your brain is not a machine so needs down time from cognition using the Pre-Frontal Cortex. Plan short breaks into your day every hour such as:
- Stretch – create a 10-minute stretch routine, one that wakes up your legs, back, shoulders, neck, and arms. Your body will thank you, and you’ll return to your desk feeling invigorated, refreshed, and empowered.
- Walk – enjoying some sunshine, fresh air and nature will increase the benefits. Regular readers will know I call mine my ‘daily dose of green’.
- Play – do something unrelated to work – as counter intuitive as it sounds, doing some ‘non work’, can lead to improvements in your ‘work’. Sorry, looking at your phone will not help – as social media doesn’t work so well for the brain as the other items on this list. My clients read work related magazines, spend 10 minutes journalling, or even networking with someone new.
- Eat lunch away from your place of work – if possible, outside. Be mindful and savour your meal, rather than multi-task.
- Meditation – start as little as 1 minute, gradually increasing to 5 minutes, then building up to 10. This isn’t about how long each session lasts or being good at it – it’s about how consistently you do it.
- Tidy something – your desk, your kitchen, someone else’s kitchen, it doesn’t really matter. Just enjoy the feeling of a job well done, of becoming a more organised person, and knowing you’ll return to your desk in a better mood than you left it.
Prioritise tasks: focus on the most important ones first. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and increase your productivity. There are all sorts of books and tools that can help you here. Create or adapt a system to work for your brain. My executive coaching clients are enjoying feeling more in control by giving themselves permission not to make this complicated!
Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential for optimal brain function. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and decreased concentration. Please don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Go and pour yourself a glass of cool, refreshing water right now. Enjoy!
Eat food that works for your brain and body: not someone else’s. Trust your energy and focus levels to decide whether what you eat is serving you.
Manage stress: you know that stress is harmful to your health, and long-term sustained stress will change the brain – not for the better. Find ways to manage your stress and enjoy them regularly. Never mind incorporating even more activities into your schedule to do this, saying ‘no’ more often could be what you need to do instead.
Stay organised: will help reduce stress and improve productivity. Having to hunt for the file, email, keys or whatever, wastes your valuable time and promotes stress in those around you! Decluttering will change your life for your better!
Obviously, I’ve barely scratched the surface of each of these 7 Brighter Thinking tips, however, I trust they spark your curiosity. Challenge yourself to take action on at least one of them today. I promise, the results will be amazing!