1) Time To “Tech Off”
Did you know that our electronic devices emit ‘blue light’ which impacts our body clock, and stops our bodies producing melatonin (the hormone which helps us sleep)? The solution to this is to stop using our devices at least a couple of hours before bed. Ok, we know that’s tough, but hear us out...we propose a ‘tech off’ hour that you incorporate into your daily routine. Focus on reading or doing tasks that don’t require technology for the last hour or so of the day, and enjoy the perks of a more restful night's sleep.
If you really must do some late night work - consider getting F.lux on your computer (software to gradually tint the screen), or even some blue light blocking glasses. You can also find out more about how to improve your sleep in our previous blog post - The Health Benefits of Sleep.
2) Show Gratitude
It's such a simple action - but regularly showing gratitude can change your world. Life and business strategist Tony Robbins often talks about how the human brain is wired for survival - so it’s actively looking for things that can hurt us, and often, it magnifies the bad, which can lead to a negative outlook. He suggests that each time you have negative thoughts, you should remember what you’re grateful for - “To change your life, change your expectations for appreciation.”
A lot of people find the thought of a gratitude diary with 10 things you're grateful for each day a bit well,...cheesy. This approach can work wonders, but if it isn't the one for you, why not just focus on training your brain to give negative situations a positive twist. Each time you feel negativity, try and look for something about that situation to be thankful for (we understand how tough this can be when you're frustrated about something!) That could be the simple fact that a negative situation has acted as a lesson, or taught you something.
3) Move! (Especially First Thing)
It’s tempting to dive right into work, but give your mind a chance to wake up before bombarding it with tech, and move your body instead. This could be as simple as a walk around the block, but you’ll be surprised how this small change can improve your focus and attitude for the day. In addition to this, we all know how important it is to incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Did you know that movement helps the brain grow, reduces the effects of stress (by lowering cortisol levels), and helps fight depression and anxiety? [Source]
4) Tech-Free Bedroom
Relating to our first point about having a “tech-off” hour, having a tech-free bedroom can work wonders too! As much as it’s tempting to use our phones for alarms, and have a quick check of our social accounts and emails first thing, your bedroom should be a sanctuary for relaxation. Why not opt for an “old-school” battery powered alarm clock? You’ll be amazed how this simple change can improve your sleep.
5) Keep Learning
Never stop learning. Whether it’s listening to inspirational podcasts, or learning a new hobby, or even adding more books to your collection - education, such as learning a second language can actually slow down brain ageing[Source]. This is because each time we learn something new, our brain either adapts the structure of its neurons, or boosts the number of synapses that exist between neurons, so they can fire information between cells quicker. This can improve our memory, and cognitive skills dramatically.
6) Be Present
How many tabs do you have open on your computer? How often do you check your phone? How many times does your mind wander off-topic when someone is talking to you? Our world is full of distractions, and our attention spans have dramatically decreased over the years. It’s a skill to be completely present and focused on the ‘right now’, so decide to proactively try and keep your attention on what’s happening in front of you.
Doing multiple things at once doesn’t save time - it actually slows us down, reduces our ability to focus, and even diminishes our creativity. (Source)
If you’re the type of person who has constant ideas or tasks - then do something called ‘The Parking Lot’ technique. Have a bit of paper where you write down (park) any ideas that come into your head. You can keep this on your desk, and then when you’ve finished the task at hand - go back to this list and decide when to action the points.
7) Eat Well
If you’ve read our recent article - Everything You Need To Know About Gut Health, you’ll know that it’s important to eat for our gut microbiome, as well as our tastebuds, and that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. At HIIT, we champion healthy, natural, balanced food with plenty of vegetables, protein and wholegrains, and no artificial ingredients.
8) Spend Time Outdoors
How often do you go outside and take a break in nature? The Japanese believe in ‘Shinrin-yoku’ - which translates as ‘forest bathing’, and simply involves spending time in a forest/woodland area. Incredibly - studies have shown that trees and plants release a special chemical called “phytoncide” which helps boost the immune system. Phytoncides are produced in order to protect the trees and plants against bacteria and insects, but these natural oils have a positive effect on human wellbeing.
Forest bathing can help reduce stress and anxiety, and even lower our blood pressure. [Source] On top of this, a 2019 study found that even spending 2-hours a week in nature can boost your health and wellbeing. [Source]
Meditation is fantastic for mental as well as physical health.
A way of training yourself to be better at ‘being present’ is to incorporate meditation into your routine. If your mind wanders when you meditate - that’s ok, just focus on your breathing, and bring yourself back to the present moment.
People meditate for lots of reasons - including stress reduction, controlling anxiety, improving self-awareness, attention-span, memory, and sleep. There have been many studies [like this one] that show the effectiveness of meditation as a way to reduce psychological stress, and stress-related illnesses. If you’ve never tried meditating before - why not start with a guided meditation such as this Meditation for Anxiety by Yoga With Adriene?
10) Give Back
Sometimes it’s easy to get absorbed into solely focusing on our own path and all the challenges, hopes, dreams, and ambitions that go with that - but why not change your focus and ask yourself "what can I give back?" This doesn’t have to be financially-related, your time is just as (or even more) valuable that money. This can be anything from volunteering, to offering some specialist knowledge without expecting anything in return, or even helping someone in your community who is in need.
Giving back is good for us! A study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for 2+ organisations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than non-volunteers. [Source]
Similarly, a study by Harvard Business School found that giving money to someone else lifted a person’s happiness more than if they spent it on themselves (despite the participants prediction that spending money on themselves would increase their happiness more.) [Source]
So whether you donate to charity, volunteer, or even just help out a neighbour - giving is good for everyone. At HIIT Kitchen, we do whatever we can to help our local community - such as donating to the West Herts Ambulance Service during the coronavirus pandemic (below). We're always keen to hear your ideas for new fundraisers or things we can do to help others, so please feel free to get in touch and let us know if you have any thoughts.
So that’s it - a whistlestop journey into habits for a healthy mind. We hope this inspires you to try new things and incorporate more of these actions into your daily routine.