Ready for a brain reset? How to re-wire your brain in 15 mins a day
If you’ve found back-to-back video meetings during the pandemic stressful and de-motivating, you’re not alone. But you can fix it.
Recently published research from Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab has confirmed we all need to make time for breaks. Taking short breaks changes our brainwave patterns and boosts positive levels of frontal alpha asymmetry, leading to higher engagement. In essence, they found that brain breaks, or resets, are not only good for our personal wellbeing, they also improve our ability to do our best work.
It’s hard to stay focused and engaged when our brain is stressed
We can all get stressed for many different reasons. Our brains have evolved to operate in ‘survivor mode’; when we’re faced with a threat or challenge we instinctively respond with survivor brain emotions, such as fear, frustration, tunnel vision and self-doubt. Such stresses all negatively affect our performance.
“Your mind is your best friend. But it is also your worst enemy.” Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence
The good news is that operating in survivor mode is not inevitable. We are not simply passive victims of our emotions. It is possible to consciously and proactively reset and re-wire your brain.
How you can boost your mental fitness
Mental fitness coaching works on three muscles. It reduces the influence of your instinctive, survivor brain muscles – what we call your Internal Saboteurs. When your Saboteurs are in charge, you respond to challenges with stress, self-doubt, frustration, regret or guilt.
At the same time, we work on strengthening your positive mental muscles – what we call your Sage Mind. When you boost these muscles you learn to respond to challenges with curiosity, empathy and creativity. In this calmer state of mind you’re more focused and perform better.
We also work on your self-command muscles. You are not in full command of your mind. If you were, you would choose to entirely silence the saboteurs in your head. You would not stress over what you can’t control, you’d push away self-doubts and recover from disappointments immediately and spend little time in anger, regret or blame.
If you want to know more about how your Sages and Saboteurs work, I’d recommend reading Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine.
You can reset your brain in just 15 mins a day, over 6 weeks
There are many effective exercises to reset and train your brain in mental fitness. Many are short (just 1-2 minutes) and can be done with your eyes open in the office or in a meeting. I explore these in my Mental Fitness coaching programs that are proven to significantly boost mental fitness scores (your PQ) with just 15 minutes of daily practice for 6 weeks.
Here are 4 power breaks you can use to reset your brain right now
Rather than zoning out or just letting your mind drift, take a more effective mind power break instead. This involves commanding your mind to actively focus on just one sensation or one object of attention at a time. Actively let go of any other thoughts as they come (which they will!).
- Go for a walk and just pay attention to the sensation of your feet hitting the ground or to hearing the sounds around you.
- Listen to music, but instead of zoning out, zone in on one element such as a particular instrument playing.
- Take a coffee or tea break, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the cup in your hand.
- Take 4 deep breaths and focus on the rising and falling of your chest/stomach.
The effect of these short power breaks is deeply recharging and energizing. Much more so than if you took a regular break and simply let your mind drift. Just remember to keep focused on one thing and actively let go of other thoughts as they come.
Over time, and with practice, you’ll start to notice moments during your power breaks when the wisdom of your Sage Mind bubbles up. You’ll gain more clarity when solving problems or making decisions. This happens because the power break quietens your saboteurs and enables you to hear the whisper of your intuition and inner wisdom.
You don’t have to do the work alone
We explore these techniques (and many more) in my Positive Intelligence Mental Fitness coaching. You and your team can follow a fully supported program where we work on significantly improving your mental fitness score (PQ) in 6 weeks and with just 15 minutes of daily practice. You’ll also have access to an app to guide your daily practice and an interactive Mental Gym to build those Sage muscles!