Train Your Brain to Think Differently
You need to upgrade your brain. It’s not enough to just set intentions for the New Year. If you want to do things differently, it is critical that you train your brain to think differently, or you’ll find yourself slipping back into old habits. Part of my personal mission this year is to simplify what I’m working on so that I minimize excess energy expenditure. Information overload, fear of missing out, adrenal dysfunction, fatigue and burnout are becoming all too common in our non-stop tired and wired society. Here are a few simple tips to help you upgrade your brain in 2015.
This super simple brain recharge process – balance, build, boost – can be implemented to jumpstart your day, getting your brain in an optimal state to do the best work possible, as well as throughout the day to recalibrate your operating system.
1. To balance brain chemistry: move your body. This may be a full workout, or something as simple as going for a walk, stretching your body, gently pedaling a stationary bike at the gym, or climbing a few flights of stairs. Gentle exercise not only increases positive endorphins in the brain, but it also decreases toxic cortisol, which is typically highest first thing in the morning.
2. To build brain health: think about what you’re grateful for. We are constantly bombarded by challenges in our immediate environment, in addition to negative news of what’s going on in the world around us. The brain is hard-wired to pay more attention to the negative, increasing our sensitivity to stress. By focusing on what’s good in life, we allow the brain to create a more optimistic lens through which to see the world. This not only boosts nourishing chemicals in the brain like serotonin and dopamine, it also strengthens neural connections that help us focus while increasing mental flexibility and overall resilience.
3. To boost brainpower: focus on who you want to be before what you want to do. Rather than jumping right into work mode first thing in the morning, spend a few minutes thinking about what type of person you want to be as you go about your daily tasks. Consider what it would look like and feel like to operate in a mode that is in alignment with your deepest values, such as being a great listener, an effective leader, a supportive colleague, or a creative mastermind. Whatever matters most to you, focus your mental energy on how to be that person before you allow your to-do list to take over control.
If possible, set aside at least 30 minutes each morning for this move, feel, focus exercise and then revisit these recharge steps for at least 3-5 minutes each hour for optimal brain performance.