We’d all love to be more productive and creative, and to perform at our best 24/7. But the reality is, we all have ‘off days’. Sometimes not even a double shot latte can get you through a dreaded 9am strategy meeting or help you clear your overflowing email inbox.
The good news is, there are simple strategies you can use to ensure you’re working at your best. The following tips by Performance Coach Andrew May will help you get more done, turbo charge your brain power and see you performing at a high level without hitting a wall.
MOVE: Physical activity is essential to overall wellbeing. It influences how you feel, improves energy levels, reduces risk of disease, and improves brain function and mental health.
FUEL: You are what you eat. Nutrition and hydration underpin cellular function, metabolism, energy levels and brain function.
RECHARGE: Relaxation and switching off (physically and psychologically) are key to sustaining energy levels, reducing fatigue, nurturing creativity and enhancing emotional intelligence. Restorative sleep is vital to recovery, hormone balance and brain function.
CONNECT: A clear purpose, flourishing relationships, sense of community and regular exposure to nature are fundamental to pleasure, meaning and fulfillment in life.
THINK: The ability to learn, change and grow is essential to thrive in the modern world. A flexible and positive mindset is important for relationships, wellbeing and mental health.
PLAY: Play and regular doses of fun keep you healthy and young at heart. Recreational play generates optimism, is the gateway to vitality, enhances relationships and boosts learning.
Here’s three ways that activating these levers improves day-to-day performance.
- Physical activity makes you smarter
Regular exercise helps you grow more brain cells. Recent research shows exercise helps prevent age-related decrease in brain matter, enhances cognitive flexibility and reduces the risk of developing dementia. Once the extra neurons are firing, you need to make them nimble. Exercise helps to improve the connection of the neurons by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). Most brain changes have occurred from cardiovascular exercise such as walking or running, but all forms of physical activity provide benefits.
So whether you’re training for a marathon or using the stairs instead of the lift, moving will improve your brain power.
- Regular movement boosts energy levels
Exercise builds more mitochondria — the tiny cellular structure responsible for producing energy in the body. When you feel foggy and fatigued at work, the last thing you want to do is a series of burpees. However, even a small burst of activity (say 20 minutes) will dramatically boost your energy levels.
A University of Georgia study reported that sedentary people who normally complained of chronic lethargy increased their energy by 20 per cent and decreased fatigue by as much as 65 per cent by participating in regular, low-intensity exercise.
- Food fuels productivity
Eating high protein foods, nuts and veggies will help to increase dopamine — the neurotransmitter that enhances alertness, creativity, learning and concentration. Foods don’t actually contain dopamine, but your body creates it by breaking down the amino acid Tyrosine.
Dopamine is linked to brain processes that control movement and emotional responses. Eating nutrient-dense foods such as nuts also increases the satiety index (feeling of fullness) which results in more control over potential hunger cravings.
One study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology showed eating fruit and vegetables throughout the day is beneficial to your brain. Study participants reported their food intake, mood and behaviours over a period of 13 days and they were more creative, more engaged and felt happier the more fruit and vegetables they ate.
Regardless of your age, sex, fitness level, whether you’re a complete stress-head or a chilled-out monk, pulling these six levers will improve the way you feel and allow you to thrive personally, professionally, physically and mentally.
Source bio: Andrew May is recognised as one of the world’s leading strategists on workplace performance and wellbeing. He presents inspiring keynotes around the globe and is the author of the newly released book, MatchFit. Andrew is coach and confidante to a number of Australia’s leading CEOs and executives, elite athletes and performing artists.