Business Leadership Achieving success takes effort and attention for most of us, both personally and professionally.
My nearly 30 years of working in the technology sector drove me to find the latest devices, applications and techniques that I could add to my daily routine to help me think better, sleep better and perform better. Like many other busy executives, my weekly schedule of traveling and back-to-back meetings could be challenging. I often found that I was unable to wind down and get a good night’s sleep in the evenings — which, in turn, affected my focus and engagement for the following day Business Leadership.
When I was first introduced to the concept of brain optimization or brain fitness, I was intrigued by the science behind it, but I could never have imagined that it would improve my brain and overall wellness as much as it did.
Understanding Brain Plasticity
The brain makes a model of the world, interpreting external stimuli to respond and operate effectively. When the world around us changes, like in the past two years, the brain’s ability to adapt to everything it experiences (good and bad) is called brain plasticity — scientifically known as neuroplasticity. Business Leadership Our brains have 8 billion neurons and based on our experiences, they form trillions of connections that result in our present-day thinking and behaviors. The more experiences we have, the more outcomes we can consider. Whether running a company or planting a garden, we can expand what we envision by stimulating the growth and organization of the pathways in our brains.
Brain fitness equals peak performance.
Any challenges and accommodations to new experiences, people or environments are all exercises for the brain. We know that regular exercise leads to fitness, which allows us to perform better. That’s what brain fitness is all about — implementing practices that train the brain to function optimally as it adapts to new stimuli.
In instances when the brain is in chronic low-level stress and is focused on survival first, it devotes less energy to accomplishing anything new. Implementing brain fitness into your daily routine can improve your performance when dealing with stressors, ultimately leading to a more productive, successful and happier life.
Timing is everything.
We all can access our best selves by thinking, sleeping and performing better Business Leadership, especially at key times during the day and night. There are three times throughout a 24-hour cycle when you can implement brain exercises for optimal brain fitness.
• Overnight, our brains are hard at work adapting to all of the input we receive during the day. Therefore, it is essential that we get a great night’s sleep to restore balance to the brain and body. Sleep is the most important and natural way to enhance our brain plasticity.
• How we start our day is essential to productivity. In the morning, hydrate the brain by drinking water, 22 ounces at least. Watching the sunrise daily, a practice recognized Business Leadership by yogis and monks for ages, really can transform your life, as the energy from the light changes your brain waves and inspires you spiritually as well as physiologically. Energizing and engaging the brain in the morning can take us naturally from a sleepy state to fully awake.
• Mid-afternoon is another opportunity to reset your brain waves and increase brain plasticity Business Leadership. Oftentimes, we can feel a slump later in the day and need to destress and refresh our brains. Naps are tricky, as they can put you into a deeper delta sleep state, ultimately making you groggier than before. Sugar and caffeine artificially stimulate the brain and can lead to an insulin crash or energy dip — the opposite effect you are going for. However, using brain fitness techniques is the best way to make 3 p.m. feel as optimistic and energized as 8 a.m.
Technology mirrors nature to aid in brain optimization.
Just like using the right equipment to work out your body for optimal fitness, there are techniques and tools that also exercise the brain for optimal fitness. Business Leadership We’ve seen the recent emergence of a thriving “digital wellness” industry. Technology for brain optimization, in many cases, is built to mirror the aspects of nature — like sleep or watching a sunrise — that help us perform at our best. Here are three examples of emerging technology that use cues from nature to provide much-needed assistance in optimizing our brains.
• Sounds and music. Nature provides sound vibrations that guide our brains into more relaxed states. Think about the feeling and experience of spending time at the beach or reaching the top of a mountain. Perhaps known more widely as the Mozart effect, listening to different sounds such as healing music, binaural beats or guided visualization has been proven to help balance brain waves.
• The power of light. As much as we’d love to have time to watch the sunrise and sunset each day Business Leadership, this isn’t practical for most of us, so using light therapy to mimic these experiences is a shortcut to a similar positive result Business Leadership. Red and blue light therapy, as well as pulsing lights, can have a relaxing effect on the mind and body, affecting serotonin and endorphin levels. Not only does it promote calming feelings, but it also produces powerful effects in maintaining a positive outlook and optimistic thinking.
• Breathing and breathwork. With the inevitable daily stresses of work and life, our natural and uninhibited breathing patterns are impacted and restricted. There are a variety of apps available today Business Leadership, whether for meditation or relaxation, that offer a variety of breathing techniques, like 4-7-8, and can be helpful in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
Integrating these brain fitness techniques into my routine has had such an immense impact on my professional and personal life. Whether you’re managing your stress, striving for clearer thinking and better sleep or looking for paths to peak performance, implementing a brain fitness routine can make a meaningful impact on your health and happiness.