What would you think if I said you could feel more confident and upbeat, consistently process and recall what you learn, and perform at your optimum day in day out? Now what would you think if I said you could achieve all this in 3 simple steps? In this post, I’ve written down the secrets you need to perform at your mental and creative optimum for the duration of the day. I’ve also put together a bonus five minute refresh routine that you can easily complete in your office or wherever you work. This is the exact routine I used while efficiently completing my books by giving my mind the chance to relax and refresh. That routine will be waiting for you at the end of this post.
One of the most important things to be aware of, and one that many people don’t realise, is that a daily exercise routine is not just about looking after your physical needs. In order for your brain to function at its maximum potential you need to provide it with the right stimulation and nutrition too. One of the first things you need to do is avoid registering signs of anxiety or stress over situations you have no control over. Most of us have, at some time or another, found ourselves becoming anxious or stressed about things in the future that may not even happen. Being aware of and avoiding this stress helps keep your brain functioning and focused on what’s most important. So here are the three steps to increase your productivity and maximise potential.
Step 1 - The Fuel
As soon as your brain becomes even mildly dehydrated it tends to lose some of its most important functions. Each day your brain needs to process information, ideas and memories, while at the same time running all body functions. Dehydration causes the whole system to slow down and lessens your mental and physical abilities. Water is the fuel your brain wants and needs. Staying hydrated provides this and is step one to maximising your productivity and potential.
Step 2 - The Nutrition
Neurotransmitters. These are the biochemical messengers whose job it is to carry signals from one brain cell to another. These brain cells transmit various signals to the different parts of your body which allow you to carry out individual tasks. The better these messengers are nourished, the more efficiently they can connect and send the vital messages. The proteins in your diet will greatly affect your brain’s performance as they provide the essential amino acids that make up our neurotransmitters. Simply put, protein is made of amino acids.
One of the main chemicals which affects our moods is serotonin. When we don’t eat enough good protein our brain can’t produce enough neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Proteins (amino acids) therefore play a large part in regulating our moods and are essential for our happiness.
Step 3 - A Clear, Relaxed & Positive Mind
What are the three things you absolutely must do today to move yourself and the projects you are working on forward? This is the first question you should ask yourself when you get up in the morning. Grab a piece of paper or a notebook, write them down and then move them to one side.
Next, you should think of a few things you are grateful for. When we think back to a positive event in our lives our bodies release waves of these same feelings. When you think of something you are grateful for or a positive event, you induce a surge of positive hormones that will very quickly make you feel more confident and upbeat. You should then focus on building these positive feelings for the next 5 minutes by keeping your eyes closed and your body relaxed.
These positive feelings will put you in a position to carry out your top three tasks swiftly and efficiently. What I love about this technique is that you can always drop back into it at any stage during the day.
BONUS! Five Minute Refresh
By completing the three simple steps above your brain and mind are now available to work at maximum capacity and you can work on enhancing your physical abilities. I think it’s important to develop 2 fitness routines. The first is what you are probably used to; going to the gym, playing a sport, running three or four times a week etc.
The second routine is ideal for when you’re working under pressure or when sustained creativity levels are required. This is the five minute refresh.
I always start my five minute refresh by standing up and focusing on my breathing. Keep your eyes open and take 5 smooth deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should drop your shoulders away from your ears each time you breathe out.
If you take more than 5 breaths it’s possible that the sudden increase in oxygen levels may make you a little light headed. Five breaths should be enough to take you away from any stressful situation and start the relax and re-focus programme. I then move into more physical exercises, starting at my feet and working my way up the body:
- Take off your shoes and roll a ‘spiky ball’ over the soles of both your feet. About 20 seconds on each foot
- Then move into ankle rotations and complete 6 in each direction
- Stretch your calves and lower back while leaning against your desk
- Stand up straight and do 6 hip circles in each direction
- Move into a standing forward spine stretch. Hold at the bottom of the move for complete breath cycles and repeat the exercise 3 times
- Next you should work your mid back and shoulders. 10 reps each of dumb waiter, split arm raises, or elbow lifts
- Next is 10 neck rotations in each direction
- Finally take any food or water if required
The secret to any project is to break it down into bite-sized pieces. These pieces should then be placed within your daily routine to help you achieve the success you deserve. When I have a large amount of creative writing to get through, I always set my countdown timer for 45 minutes and work flat out until I reach that deadline. I then use the exercises above coupled with five minutes for a nutritional snack and finally five minutes to relax my eyes and clear my mind. The tips that I’ve shared with you in this article have helped me in so many positive ways and I hope you enjoy and take advantage of the positive energy and motivation they bring.
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