Incorporating habits into your day which influence your mindset and productivity, can help to re-frame your state of mind so that you are able to lead a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. We are creatures of habit and sometimes making big changes all at once can be both overwhelming and unsustainable. I would suggest establishing small adjustments like the following to help you feel happier, more present and more successful each day.
Establish a morning routine
I love mornings – I’m one of those people. I think a morning routine is important for productivity and positivity, as it creates momentum for the day, whilst ensuring that you are grounded in the right mindset for each fresh start. Psychological studies suggest that when it comes to doing cognitive work, most adults perform best in the late morning so, it makes perfect sense to create a routine that sets you up for your peak productivity point. Here’s what my mid-week routine looks like.
- Firstly I choose a consistent time to wake. A regular waking pattern can make rising easier, less stressful and more relaxing.
- Snooze button? No thanks. Why would I want to have less time asleep? Isn’t it just a disaster waiting to happen? Isn’t this the secondary reason (no 1. being train delays) why people are late to work in the mornings? Yeah, thanks but no thanks, that does nothing for my anxiety levels in the morning.
- Down a glass of water like it’s a Friday night to help re-hydrate the body after sleep.
- Put my work out gear on. I have this ready at the end of my bed so I can pull it on without even thinking about it. As above, I try to wake up at the same time, even on a rest day.
- Brush my teeth.
- Grab my prepped overnight oats, lunch and any snacks. Prepping meals in advance will help with your routine and it also ensures you make good choices wherever possible whilst saving on the dollar bills.
- Head to work for training. I’m lucky to be able to work out at my office but for most people this is not the case, either way though, I think starting the day with a workout at home, at the gym or outside is the perfect way to start the day.
- Stretch & Shower.
- Finally I have breakfast. I don’t advocate using food as a reward but admittedly the idea of chocolate banana overnight oats really helps to get me through my workout and to my desk for 8am. Recipe HERE.
I think establishing your own routine could be particularly useful if you’re freelance or a stay at home parent. It may require getting up super early to train but trust me, you’ll feel so much better for it! On the weekend, my routine is a little more relaxed.
Establish a night time routine
I’m far more focused with my morning routine than my night time routine and this is something I’m continuing to work on. When I was suffering from depression and my eating disorder, I struggled more at night than I did in the morning. Nights were filled with fear, worry and guilt for me, as the weight of the day pulled me under. I had negative rituals that appeared only at night and sleep was something I did not welcome, as it took me a long time to settle and relax. I have however, been able to find ways to make nights more manageable for me and find the following things really help to keep me feeling balanced and calm.
- Eating a nutritious, filling dinner without restriction and finishing with a decaf or peppermint tea (and dark chocolate).
- Preparing my food and clothes for the next day. Essentially an optimum morning routine, starts the night before.
- Having a bath.
- Lighting candles and using aromatherapy oils.
- Putting.Down.The.Phone and avoiding screens after 9pm.
When incorporating a morning and evening routine, I suggest you try not to overhaul everything about your current routine at once. Experiment, change things up and introduce one or two changes at a time. Be consistent with these new changes every day. Observe any differences. Adjust and repeat until you find something that works for you.
The foods we eat and the way we consume our food affects us more than we realise. Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why we need to be considerate of the choices we make if we want to be both energised and productive. I’m all about eating intuitively and actually listening to your body but it’s so important to understand the science behind food and the fuel it gives us, before we start putting intuitive eating into practice.
In brief and in basic terms (because I’m not a scientist or dietician), just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, it’s much harder to stay focused and our attention can drift.
Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate, some spike our glycogen levels and then quickly drop causing a post meal ‘slump’, whilst others keep us satisfied for longer periods of time (think whole foods – a good source of protein, whole grains, beans, dark leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds etc,). In an ideal world, if you want to eat mindfully and keep your energy levels up, you need to consider:
- Planning or preparing your meals in advance before you get to that ravenous point where literally anything will do. This is when you might make less intelligent and mindful choices. If you haven’t prepped, just make a mental decision about what you’re going to eat, before arriving at this point.
- Opting for snacks throughout the day. Spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels aren’t good for productivity and it won’t make you feel great either. Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level which in turn, will help you to keep your emotions balanced and your productivity levels on point.
- Make nutritious choices as much as possible and include foods that keep you satisfied. Try not to listen to ‘diet’ myths about certain macronutrients, instead do your best to involve a good balance of fats, proteins and carbs depending on how you feel as an individual. For me, I like to have fats, proteins and carbs in every meal and don’t intentionally exclude any of these macros from my meals.
Move your body.
I mention exercise and it’s benefits on mental health a lot throughout my blog so, I thought I would share a study from Leeds Metropolitan University where the effects of exercise amongst office workers were examined.
‘Within the study, researchers had over 200 employees at a variety of companies self-report their performance on a daily basis. They then examined fluctuations within individual employees, comparing their output on days when they exercised to days when they didn’t.
Here’s what they found: On days when employees visited the gym, their experience at work changed. They reported managing their time more effectively, being more productive, and having smoother interactions with their colleagues. Just as important: They went home feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.’ Ron Friedman, Ph.D – Psychology Today
It can often be easy to think of exercise as a chore or something we simply can’t fit into the day. Instead, I would recommend re-framing this idea and encourage thinking of exercise as an essential positive aspect and influence on your success and overall wellbeing.
Establishing a morning or evening sequence of repeated actions ensures optimal productivity, focus, creativity and emotional balance for the day ahead. This, alongside eating mindfully and moving your body, is a great way to begin encouraging more positivity and productivity into your day to day life. Make little positive changes which bring about clarity and calmness. Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.