Who wants to be calmer and fitter? We all do right? In this month’s informational e-mail series I covered some science-backed habits that can help add structure and productivity to your day. Here are some of the highlights I’d like to share more widely.
Most of us are very aware we should exercise, but how do we make it a habit? The science is pretty evenly split between the benefits of morning versus evening workouts. Both have real benefits-including stress relief and better sleep. However, consistency turns out to be the most important thing. Take into account whether you are a lark or an owl-plus your other time commitments-and then pick a regular time that you can commit to a workout.
According to author Charles Duhigg, the next step is to lower the “activation threshold” on an activity like exercise. He writes in his New York Times best-selling book The Power of Habit that the key is to make the new activity as easy to start as possible. Tell yourself you will roll out the yoga mat and do ten minutes of stretching. Make an agreement with a family member to enjoy a walk around the block after supper every evening. If you can get yourself through the first few minutes of the new activity on a regular basis you are well on your way to setting a healthy habit.
Let’s All Take a Break
Most of us also know that working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. It can be tempting to push through but that can lead to burnout. Maybe what you need is a good laugh. In a paper for the Journal of Business and Psychology, an Australian study found that when experimental subjects were given a focused job to do, then they were briefly exposed to something funny, they worked twice as long afterward. So, sharing a Dad joke with a valued coworker – in person or on the phone- will boost your mood and productivity.
Finally – It isn’t necessary to become a master meditator to take advantage of this recommendation. Studies have shown that intentionally pausing and taking a few deep breaths can help calm your central nervous system. Take a deep breath in- to the count of 4- and then out to a count of 6. You can repeat the cycle a couple of times to gain further benefit from this simple deep breathing exercise.
Go ahead and move, write, breathe deeply, and laugh and see if these simple, science-backed suggestions do help you feel more focused and productive. Maybe even calmer and fitter overall.
Looking for additional helpful tips? Check out our Reboot Resources post too.