Taking downtime to power up
In our modern world, it sometimes feels like there’s no downtime any more. It’s like there’s an expectation that, no matter what’s happening in the world around us, we’ll just keep going. And, when things get tough, we’ll just dig a bit deeper and keep going until we no longer can and we lose all motivation. I can think of some examples.
In winter, we now expect to be able to keep eating the same food as we did in the summer, and if it’s not available, we import it.
As the days get shorter, our routine stays the same. Our ancestors had to work with the daylight: no luxury of light 24/7.
Our working lives no longer stop at the office door or the factory gate when we leave; our electronics often keep us connected when resting and relaxing would serve us better.
I’m sure you have your own examples.
Of course, there are lots to like about our modern world, and it’s for each of us to manage our own well-being according to our individual need.
It’s all about making sure we boost those feel-good hormones, particularly in winter.
According to Kay Cooke, creator and developer of Happy Brain™, there are six brain chemicals which can easily power us towards well-being and success.
Here are six ideas I’ve learned over the last few years to boost them:
1. Adapt your nutrition
Consider adapting your diet to make sure you have a range of vitamins and minerals. Nourish yourself with local produce where you can. Eating whole foods and vegetables promotes the production of GABA, a brain chemical which regulates stress chemicals in our body.
2. Change your routine
Can you change your routine to make sure you get outside during daylight hours Sunshine is at a premium during shorter days so make the most of it. Serotonin and vitamin D are essential to your well-being, helping with sleeping, eating and digestion.
3. Manage your time online
When we want to hunker down during winter, and perhaps go out less at night, use your time wisely. Social media is fantastic for many things, but if you’re like me, it’s easy to lose hours scrolling, sometimes past bedtime.
Managing your time online will make you feel you’ve spent your time more productively, and making sure you get enough sleep is also essential to boost levels of acetylcholine which helps maintain blood flow and slow our heart rate.
4. Boost dopamine
Although daylight hours are shorter, we can still boost our dopamine levels by exercising or meditating.
5. Enhance endorphins
Studies have shown that listening to music, along with laughter can lead to the release of endorphins, our natural pain killers.
6. Maintain connections
Although we may not see people so much face to face at the moment, making a connection with others is essential to release oxytocin. Even being part of an online group can give us that sense of belonging.
So, as we embark on a new year, where we face much change and uncertainty, you now have some super easy ways to hack your brain chemicals to help you feel better and have some of that all-important focus on your well-being.
I wonder which ones you’ll explore first as part of your personal development? Be great to hear from you when you’ve tried some.
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