How to shake-off your midday slump

energise at work sleepy afternoon

If you work a ‘nine-to-five’ job, you are likely all too familiar with the mid-afternoon slump.

Your energy levels plummet, concentrating becomes harder and all you want is a nice nap.

Our bodies have a strong biological need to sleep between 1PM and 3PM, in order to recharge.

However, given that sleeping is not an option for most of us, here are a few tips for re-energizing quickly while at work.


Make Your Environment Brighter

Light energizes us.

If nothing else, increasing the brightness in your area will distract you from dozing off.

If you don’t have a window with natural light in your work area, simply plugging in an extra lamp will do the trick.

In fact, Physiology and Behavior performed a recent study which showed that workers who had more light in their offices displayed significantly higher energy levels throughout the day.


Laugh a Little

Humor is always good.

Whether it’s watching something on YouTube, reading humorous short stories/articles, or a reflection on something that you find funny, making yourself laugh is an excellent way to become re-energized.

According to a University of Nebraska study, people found themselves experiencing immediate energy boosts after watching funny cat videos on YouTube.

Their heart rate, blood pressure, and dopamine levels increased after laughing, which helped them become more aware and productive.


Try Some Gum (Or some other chewy substitute)

Small physical tasks can help to get your brain moving again after it tries to zone out and distract you from work.

One such small task that anyone can do is to chew gum.

When you chew, the amount of blood and oxygen in your head (particularly your brain) increases. Due to this, chewing can help you become more aware and energized.


Go for a Quick Walk

Do you find that you are sitting down for nearly the entire work day?

If so, that is likely one of the biggest reasons you are falling into a slump in the first place.

When your body’s muscles fail to have enough movement, the production of important chemicals such as insulin and glucose cease to occur, making you tired as a result.

To avoid this, you only need to take small breaks every few hours, to take quick walks. Simply find those five minutes, and give your brain and body a nice rest from sitting still.

According to one report published in Environmental Science and Technology, people who walk outside experience much better results than those who walked indoors. If you can walk outside during your work breaks, it is highly recommended.


Listen to Upbeat Music

Have you ever used music to help you work out or become motivated?

If you do, you already know the benefit it can have toward helping you over your afternoon slump.

Not only does music get you excited, but it can up your energy levels and creativity, according to research from the University of Toronto.

One of the researchers had this to say on the subject: “Music effectively alters the speed of our brain waves. We can turn them up or calm them down depending on the genre of music we plug into.”

The study also suggests that listening to songs that you have used to become energized in the past increases the effect of this phenomenon.


Hydrate

Becoming dehydrated is not only bad for your health, but it slows down the brain as well, and causes fatigue.

Even very low levels of dehydration (1%) can lead to these effects, according to a study performed by the U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine.

So ensure that you drink enough water through the day and if you want to expedite the process of using water to help wake you up, drinking it cold can help.


Stimulate Your Ears

If you rub both of your ears between your thumb and forefinger, this stimulates all of the energy meridians throughout your body and will give you a burst of energy.

Those who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine, will agree about these benefits.  In fact, the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine recently published a study that showed those who experienced chronic fatigue were helped significantly by ear stimulation.


Snack on Something

To remain aware and focused during those mid afternoon work hours, having a healthy, nutrient-filled snack can be extremely helpful.

One study from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that healthy women were able to increase brain activity involved with decision making and stress relief after snacking on a yogurt product filled with probiotics.

If you want to increase your energy at work, your metabolism, and your overall happiness levels, having a healthy snack or two throughout the workday provides a perfect solution.

Health Tips To Ensure Your Desk Job Doesn’t Kill You

sitting desk computer health

Are you one of many who finds yourself sitting frozen in the same position for extended periods of time?

Do you feel like you need a massage therapist on your personal staff, or that your eyes are always dry and tired?

You are not alone. We live in a world that revolves around computers.

Whether it’s for work, personal use or passion projects, we find ourselves glued to the screens and glued to our seats.

It’s for this reason that we are providing you with some tips to stay healthy and to feel better – even if you find yourself chained to your computer most days.


Change Your Perspective

Depending on the angle that you’re looking at the monitor, you may be causing tension in your neck and shoulders.

As per Dr.Jim Sheedy (Pacific University), ideally, you want your eyes to be level with the top of the monitor allowing you to look about 10 degrees down at the screen.

Just slightly higher or lower and you’ll tilt your head to adjust to the angle.

Looking down all day is why people have neck and shoulder pain. Looking up causes the eyes to be dry.


Straighten Up

Bad posture is bad news in any situation.

Sitting in front of a computer, leaning into the screen, causes stress on your neck and back.

Computer users tend to do this while focusing intently on the screen. It is as if you’re being captivated by this article and it’s slowly drawing you in.

Back up!

When you lean into the screen, you curve your spine and neck in an awkward position, causing discomfort as you support that big smart brain of yours.

Practice good posture and you’re on your way to less pain.


Stand For Something

It doesn’t take a genius to know that always sitting on your butt all day is not good for you.

However, sometimes certain jobs force you to stay at your workstation for extended periods of time.

Many people are starting to have standing desks. It’s simply an elevated desk that allows someone to stand and do their work.

Another option, recommended by the University of Minnesota, is to have a sit-stand desk so you can alternate.

Or if none of the above options are possible, then try a DIY option. Just take a stack of books, or some sort of low table, that you can put on top of your existing desk.

Spending more time on your feet increases energy, decreases appetite and provides an overall better sense of health.


I Like To Move It

Sometimes standing just doesn’t cut it.

Humans were not designed to sit or stand in one spot all day.

Try to get up and move around as often as possible. Take a stroll to the supply closet at work.

If you work from home, go for walks.

Some offices have offered treadmill desks as an option. The benefits are even better than a standing desk, and the extra calories burned are a bonus.

If you need reminders and proper monitoring of your activities, consider getting a fitness tracker like the ones offered by Fitbit and Garmin.


Balance

Sitting in front of your computer does not just affect the body, it affects the mind.

Have a nice balance between work time and downtime.

You may find that you’re able to be more productive if you work intensely for short periods of time and then take breaks.

While you’re on a break, get up, move around and try and maximise it’s benefits.


Do Some Desk-Based Exercises

Do some exercises while sitting at your desk, to get the blood flowing and to stretch a bit.

Research shows that happiness leads to success and not the other way around

happiness success work life

With the stress of work, bills, and modern life, happiness is becoming more and more of a luxury for many people.

A lot of us are trading our current well-being for the promise of a stable, prosperous future. This manifests itself in working long hours, working multiple jobs, or attending classes in our spare time.

All of this work and stress in the short term is supposed to provide us happiness and success in the long term, right?

According to a study by Stanford Researcher Emma Seppala, that may not be the case.

For most of us, we simply have the order backward by believing that success equals happiness. However, it turns out we just need to reverse our thinking to achieve both.

In other words, we need to be happy in order to succeed.

How does this work? Seppala, in her new book The Happiness Track, tells us that the key to happiness lies from within, not from without. While it may seem logical that a better job, a bigger house, and stable finances can put us at ease, it does not necessarily make us happy.

So how do you make yourself happy (and hopefully successful as well)? Emma suggests these five steps:


Be Nice to Yourself

As anyone who has looked in a mirror knows we can be our own worst enemy.

It’s typical for an individual to be much harder on themselves than they are towards other people, or than other people are towards them.

While some may consider this a positive trait, as it can lead you to always trying to better yourself, too much negative feedback from within can lead to misery.

Instead of beating yourself up, try reacting the same way you would if a friend messed up. While this can be difficult at first, with practice, it can become second nature.


Be Nice to Others

Charity and selflessness are a quick way to get on the path to happiness.

Helping someone in need, or just going out of your way to do something nice for someone you care about, can go a long way to brightening your mood.

Bringing a smile to another person’s face immediately makes us feel better, so the more charitable you are, the better off you’ll feel.


Live in the Moment

For too many of us, we are constantly living in the past or the future.

Agonizing over past mistakes or worrying about upcoming events can lead to extra stress, which makes us unhappy.

Instead, focusing on what we can accomplish at this moment, even if it is something tiny, can benefit our mood drastically.

While they say don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s best to relish in the little victories you achieve every day. Make sure to live in the now, not in the later.


Learn Something

A lot of the time, we like to stay in our comfort zone.

This is because the brain hates change, and will stop at nothing to keep things as simple and efficient as possible.

However, this can ultimately lead to misery as our brain also craves stimuli and excitement to keep it running smoothly.

To maintain the proper balance of change and similarity, it can be helpful to learn something new. Whether it’s a skill, a hobby, or something smaller, learning is a great way to achieve happiness, as it makes us feel like we accomplished something.

By going outside of our comfort zone and taking on challenges we wouldn’t typically face, we can increase our happiness through the experience of something new.


Be Grateful

For a lot of us, we take everything for granted.

Again, this is another unfortunate trick of the brain, but it can make us miserable regardless.

We are living in a golden age of technology, with access to devices and information that our ancestors would never have dreamed of, and we still find the smallest things about which to complain.

Therefore, it’s imperative that we take time each day to realize just how lucky we are.

While too many of us are looking up at what we don’t have, we should be looking down to see how much worse things could be, and be grateful that we are not in such a position.

According to Seppala, just writing down five things that you are grateful for every day can help trigger feelings of happiness.

When it comes to our well-being, we have much more power over ourselves than we think. While it may be easier to let our circumstances dictate our mood, we should instead take the time and energy to create our own sense of well-being and success.

Happiness comes from within, and with happiness comes success.

Business Travel Tips: Harmful effects you need to manage

frequent business travel tips harmful effects

Even though a job that requires you to travel all over the country or the world, three to four times a month looks appealing, it can be very detrimental to your health.

Frequent business travelers should be concerned about their health as the job comes with a broad range of physiological, psychological, emotional, and social side-effects. This is confirmed by separate studies done at Columbia University, University of Surrey and several others.

So before giving up your office job and globe trotting on your company’s dime, you should consider the harmful health effects frequent business travelers face. Or if you’re already a heavy traveller, then think about how you can reduce the negative impact.


Faster Ageing

The rate at which people age, is affected by specific genes.

Experiencing frequent jet lag disrupts genes, which when harmed, can cause memory impairment, heart attacks, or strokes.


High Exposure to Radiation

Frequent business travelers have earned the term ‘radiation workers’  because they are exposed to more radiation than is considered healthy.

In fact, such travelers are exposed to more radiation than nuclear power workers.

The higher the altitude, the higher the radiation exposure.

It only takes seven round-trip flights a year from New York to Tokyo (about 85,000 miles) to exceed the limit for public exposure to radiation.


Weaker Immune System

Frequent business travelers are exposed to more germs because they are inhaling the same recirculated air whether seated in the economy section or first class.

Often their overworked immune system cannot protect them from such exposure, since it is weakened from jet lag and general tiredness from running to and from airports.


Out of Shape and at Risk for Obesity

When you are constantly on the go, as frequent business travelers are, you do not have time to prepare/eat a healthy meal.

You will have a fair amount of airline food which is packed with sodium and sugar to withstand higher altitudes during long distances.

Even though the salt and sugar retain the taste of airline food, they harm the body.

The poor diet along with poor choices such as alcohol and the lack of exercise can put frequent travelers at a higher risk of obesity.


Risk of Mental Health Issues

As aforementioned, frequent flying can lead to chronic jet lag, which can disrupt the circadian rhythm linked to mood, judgment, and concentration for up to six days.

The stress of preparing for a trip combined with the jet lag from those trips can lead to “travel disorientation.”

Frequent business travelers are also prone to loneliness and isolation because they do not have time to meet new people or stay involved with family members that they leave behind.

Their time alone and tension that can occur between the traveler and his or her significant other, could lead to guilt, stress, and eventually mental health issues.


How to Manage Harmful Effects of Business Travel

Before you totally ban business traveling, you should know that short business trips once or twice every few months, will be less risky

Studies show that those participating in heavy business travel such as 14 days or more of travel a month were the ones affected by the health risks listed above.

Since business travel is typically a job requirement, you need to find ways to overtake the harmful effects of excessive traveling.

Employers owe it to their employees to help them maintain their health when they travel for work. Ways in which companies can reduce the toll of business travel is by:

  1. Offering stress reduction and relaxation training in the workplace, or sharing information about stress reduction techniques. If possible, assisting employees by modifying travel schedules to lessen the stress.
  2. Providing information about food alternatives when traveling or sending their employees off with small care packages that include fresh, healthy snacks that they can munch on instead of that salty-sweet airline food.
  3. Providing a prepaid meal card for restaurants with more nutritious menus or membership in a gym that has locations nationwide and internationally. Companies could also book rooms only with hotel chains that have gyms, and provide financial incentives to employees to exercise while traveling.
  4. Researching the destination in advance and making sure employees are fully prepared to handle the increased risks, if travel includes significant health or safety hazards.

Employers need to understand the risk factors that come with excessive traveling and strive to pay more attention to employee health and well-being.

In the meantime, employees can also take an initiative in their health while traveling.

  • Employees could consider teleconferencing (where it makes sense) as opposed to a face to face meeting.
  • You should also consider other modes of transportation, such as taking the train or driving instead of flying.
  • Employees should stand or walk as much as possible in the airport, avoid moving walkways and escalators, and have a quick walk while waiting for their scheduled flight to take off instead of sitting in a chair.
  • In-flight try and avoid germs by minimising contact with objects in the restroom, as well as other people’s seats. Also use hand sanitizer at regular intervals and consider BYOP (bringing your own pillow).
  • Stay hydrated while on a flight. Walk up and down the aisle every now and then, and do some stretching exercises.
  • If a gym is not accessible, you can also bodyweight exercises, yoga and other types of workouts from the comfort of your hotel room. There are some great sites and apps you can use for DIY workouts, which are convenient and of high quality. Have a look at FitStar, Daily Burn and Yoga Studio.
  • Employees can also make time to pack healthy snacks. Try to reduce the urge to let go of your diet, which often happens when we’re away from home. Keep it as healthy as possible.

Scientific Ways To Stick To Your Resolutions This Year

stick and keep to new year resolutions

Every New Year’s resolutions are made, and those resolutions are promptly broken within the week.

Maybe this year you decided to lose ten pounds, work more, quit smoking, work less, manage money better, or perhaps change the way to behave in the office.

All great goals.

However, the problem according to Timothy Pychyl (Psychology Professor at Carleton University), is that people try to reinvent and motivate themselves during the new year. This results in grandiose goals, even though they are not really ready to change their habits.

Most people also make classic mistakes, when setting and trying to achieve their goals .

And therefore they fail.

Rather than follow the yearly pattern of falling short of your goals, or not even attempting them at all, here are some ways to keep your resolutions this year.


Keep your ambitions achievable

The excitement of a fresh start might tempt you to make resolutions that are outside the realms of reality for you to achieve.

The cycle of setting too high of expectations, not meeting them, then trying to change again is called “false hope syndrome” and was coined by psychologist Peter Herman (University of Toronto).

He found that most people are over ambitious/optimistic with their resolutions, and want to make a big new start.

Instead, it’s better to keep your resolutions realistic by setting goals that are easier for you to achieve, rather than a big goal that you expect to happen all at once.

For example, start with a goal of exercising for any amount of time three days a week, instead of a more rigid goal of an hour everyday.

Or, cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke per day instead of trying to quit cold turkey.


Focus on the positive

When it comes to making resolutions, it all of a sudden becomes an exercise in defining everything we don’t like about ourselves like our weight, finances, or appearance.

According to Amy Cuddy (Professor at HBS), instead of reinforcing these negative self-perceptions, set goals on positive things that you’ll enjoy.

Attempt to learn a new skill or vow to experiment with new/healthy recipes in the kitchen, just get the bests appliances from Zozanga, and start cooking and creating..


Don’t be too hard on yourself

Try as we might to change, we have to remember that change is hard.

Clinical psychologist Joseph Luciani, says that “all change entails emotional friction,” and that friction causes us stress, which makes us more likely to break our resolutions.

Give yourself a bit of a break if you’re having trouble meeting your goals and keep pushing towards achieving them.


Avoid outcome-based resolutions

Another mistake is that of making resolutions based on an outcome, rather than focusing on the process to get to that outcome.

We end up feeling like failures when we don’t reach the result/outcome quickly or if we have a small lapse. For example, if you decide to quit smoking, you fail even if you have one cigarette.

So a change in focus is needed. It’s better to pay attention to the process, break it down into smaller parts and have those as your goals.

For example, if you’re into yoga and want to be able to do a difficult pose, you might become disheartened if you can’t do the pose by the end of the month.

Instead, resolve to stretch and work on practising different elements involved in the pose each day, in order to gradually work your way up to entire difficult pose.

You can keep changing the process goals along the way, as you make progress and get better.

It also important that you make the process as enjoyable as possible.

How to switch-off your brain after work

switch-off mind after work

For those with discipline, disconnecting from your phone, laptop and other devices once the workday is complete can be easy.

However, your brain is not so easily turned off from the stresses of the day. Turning thoughts off is not as easily done as disconnecting yourself from the work “grid.”

So the question remains: is there a way to get your brain to let go of work issues and switch off after work? Thankfully, science says there just might be.

In a recent study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, participants were asked to record the complete and incomplete goals they left at the workplace on a particular day, and how many times the thought of those goals entered their mind during their time off.

As expected, the incomplete goals were the most frequent “fun-killers.” They are what makes it hard to switch off after work.

The research helps to confirm an existing psychological principle known as the “Zeigarnik Effect,” which simply states that incomplete tasks are much more likely to be remembered than completed ones. It is named after a Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, who observed that waiters in a restaurant only remembered orders which were in the process of being served. However, once the orders were finished, they vaporized from their memory.

What makes the current study interesting is the simple (but effective) techniques put forth to help keep work-related thoughts from entering your mind at unwanted times.

They asked a subset of participants, once they’d described their incomplete goals, to clearly plan and write down where, when and how they would tackle/finish each one.

For example: ‘I will get to work at 9:00 AM, make a list of documents I need to arrange and people I need to call, in order to execute the transaction. I will do this by 2:00PM…..’

Specifying the context for action, helped participants put the incomplete goals out of their mind when they were not at work, and as a result these goals produced fewer intrusions, almost as if they had the same status as completed goals.

Data from a measure of work detachment also suggested that using this strategy made it easier for participants to switch off and let go of work in general.

Simple ways to reduce the stress and pressure of work email

email stress at work

Technology has make it easy for us to access and reply to email 24/7.

Taking advantage of this, many organizations have an unwritten etiquette, for employees to be available on email even after they have left the workplace and often at odd hours.

While such flexibility can increase productivity, it can also have a negative impact on the well-being of employees, especially given the huge number of emails that can flow through some organizations. This in turn can lead to negative outcomes for organizations.

According to a workplace experience study performed by the London-based Future Work Centre, emails are a sort of “double-edged sword” due to their nature of being simultaneously useful and highly stressful.

The study interviewed nearly 2,000 people working across a range of industrial sectors, about the pressures associated with email.

Among other things, their findings revealed individuals who experienced higher stress and pressure from email, had the following habits:

  • Checking emails early in the morning and late at night.
  • Leaving email push notifications on all day.

The push notifications had a particularly “strong relationship” with perceived pressure and stress. Many people found that immediate notifications as soon as an email arrived, resulted in feelings of instant tension and worry.

These email stressors had negative effects at both work and home, putting stress on both environments, and causing poor performance at both locations.

Speaking on the issue, lead author Dr. Richard MacKinnon stated, “Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it’s clear that it’s a source of stress of frustration for many of us.” Continuing his statements, MacKinnon said, “The people who reported it being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure. But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organizational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and wellbeing.”

The amount of pressure found in those surveyed was more intense in younger participants, and the pressure amounts slowly decreased the older the subject was. When looking at which industries were most affected by email pressures, marketing, IT, PR, and media participants found email stressors affected their lives the most. Of these groups, more than 30% received 50+ emails a day, and 65% had push notifications turned on.

Digital distraction and productivity experts suggest that some simple/practical ways to manage the pressure of email are to:

  1. Turn instant email notifications off, or at least limit them.
  2. Only open and check your email during certain allotted times of the day, when you want to use email. Keep this frequency as low as possible. This ensures that you use email as per your preferences, rather than revolving around it.
  3. Avoid checking email first thing in the morning and late at night.
  4. Move email discussions that can be had in-person or over the phone, to those mediums.
  5. Observe your email checking patterns and see which instances are really needed. Are you checking and responding to the emails because it’s really necessary, or just because you are assuming you need to. Experiment and see what happens if you don’t reply to certain messages after you’ve left work.

Need to stop procrastinating? Science says, use your ‘Hunger Games’

how to stop procrastinating

Are you looking to stop procrastinating in your day-to-day life/work?

Well, you’re in luck, as a technique exists that allows you to do what you enjoy, in order to put an end to procrastinating things you don’t find as appealing.

It is known as “temptation bundling.”

Strangely enough, this technique originated from The Hunger Games movie.

The developer of this technique, Katherine Milkman absolutely adores audiobooks, especially The Hunger Games. She to wasn’t being regular enough with her exercise, so she made herself a deal: she could only listen to the audiobooks at the gym.

The results: she began going to the gym every day of the week!

You may be thinking to yourself: so what? Just because this worked for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for me.

However, Katherine Milkman is a professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. And after her personal success, she went about researching whether or not her technique could be used to help other people.

Eventually, she found evidence that her “temptation bundling” technique worked for others as well.

To begin using this approach to reach your goals, simply replace ‘The Hunger Games audio book’ with something you love, and ‘the gym’ with whatever area you want to stop procrastinating in!

Do you love chocolate but hate going over your personal finances? Treat yourself to some goodies while going over all your expenses.

You will be tempted to cheat. And you might eat chocolate at other times as well, which kind of negates the effect of the perk. So how can you manage this?

  1. Only enjoy the treat when you are doing a task. Katherine found that people did especially well at completing tasks and avoiding procrastination, when their access to the treat was restricted.
  2. Punish yourself if you do not follow through on your commitment. Also get family/friends involved as ‘regulators’ who monitor your progress and give out reward/punishment. Listen to this podcast and read this article on the Freakonomics website for more information on this techniques.

Improve your productivity and health, by saying ‘no’ the right way

how to say no

If you want to lead a productive and healthy life, one important thing you need to learn is how say “no.”

Amongst other things, here are 2 benefits of being able to say no.

  1. By being able to reject unnecessary activities/commitments as well as distractions, you will have more time to do what’s most important and also more time to recover from other obligations. You can be more productive.
  2. Saying clear of temptations can make you more likely to achieve your health/fitness goals.

The question remains, however: how does one avoid such distracting, wasteful, frustrating and tempting things?

While this is certainly a big obstacle, research is starting to show that tackling it can be done with small changes. More specifically, it can be achieved by making small changes in the words that you use.


One recent study by the Journal of Consumer Research found that in a group of 120 students, saying “I can’t” vs. “I don’t,” actually made a huge difference.

The participants were split into two groups and were assigned one of the two phrases. Each time a member of either group was faced with a temptation (e.g. eating cake), they were to say their assigned phrase (i.e. I can’t eat cake vs. I don’t eat cake).

After this activity was finished, each participant was asked to answer an unrelated set of questions. They then had to turn in their answer sheet, and were offered an unhealthy candy bar, or a granola health bar.

Those that used the phrase “I can’t” choose to eat the candy bar 61% of the time, while the “I don’t” participants only fell to the temptation of the candy bar 35% of the time.

Participants who told themselves that they “don’t” do something were able to resist temptation and say “no” more often.

Simply put: using certain words make you more likely to stick to good habits, and avoid bad ones!


To further this hypothesis, the researchers came up with a second study.

30 working women were asked to participate in a “health and wellness seminar,” where they had to discuss wellness/health goals they found important, and wanted to dedicate themselves to more thoroughly.

After this was done, the women were split into the following three types of groups:

  • #1 – Were told to simply “just say no” when tempted to fail their goals.
  • #2 – Were told that anytime they were tempted they should say they “can’t” perform the conflicting task.
  • #3 – Were told to use the more definitive, “I don’t” in response to activities that tempted them to fail in their goals.

For a 10-day period after the groups were sorted, the women were told, “During the 10–day window you will receive emails to remind you to use the strategy and to report instances in which it worked or did not work. If the strategy is not working for you, just drop us a line and say so and you can stop responding to the emails.”

Similar to the other study, those who said that they “don’t” do something tended to be much more successful in keeping disciplined. In fact, 8 out of the 10 members of group #3 were able to persist with their goals for the entire 10-day period!

Compare this with the 3/10 score for the “just say no” group, and the 1/10 score of the “can’t” group, and you begin to see how powerful word choice can be!


You’re probably asking yourself: why does “I don’t” work so much better than “I can’t?”

Words are tools for empowering yourself to stay in control during various situations.

Saying “I can’t” puts you into a negative feedback loop that reminds you of your potential limitations, while saying “I don’t” creative a positive feedback loop that reminds you of your ability to take control of the situation at hand.

For a more intellectual take on this phenomena, let’s look at what Heidi Grant Halvorson, the director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University has to say on the topic: “I don’t” is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. “I can’t” isn’t a choice. It’s a restriction; it’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency.”


There will never be a time in your life where the ability to say “no” effectively will not come in handy.  Doing so is important for your productivity (at work or otherwise) and also your physical/mental health.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful!

How to slow down time and other interesting factoids about your brain

how your brain works

People often think their brain works in a way that is in complete contrast with reality.

In the spirit of understanding our brains better, I decided to do some research into the way our brain works and the things that influence it.

Here are a few interesting factoids I came across.


We Can’t Truly Multitask

When we think we’re successfully multitasking, we are actually just constantly switching the contexts of our thought process.

Simply put, our brain is switching between tasks, as it can never truly perform both task A and B simultaneously.

Single-tasking is much better than trying to work on different things at the same time.


Tiredness = Creativity

Unlike most tasks, creativity is actually found to be boosted in those who are tired.

It turns out, when our brains aren’t functioning at full capacity, we tend to approach the reasoning and logic of things in different ways than we normally would. This helps us think of new concepts and connections.

We are also more susceptible to distractions and less focused when were’ re tired, which is good for creativity.


Mistakes Can be Attractive

Strangely enough, we tend to like people who make mistakes.

This is due to the Pratfall Effect.

People who never make mistakes are seen as less likable than those who do so occasionally.

Mistakes makes you more human. Perfection creates distance and the projection of invincibility (which people don’t like).


Trying New Things Slows Down Time

Maybe not literally, but trying new activities can make your brain perceive time as going by more slowly.

Our brain takes a lot of information and organizes it in different ways, which is where our perception comes from. To make the matter more complicated, our perception is not only handled by one part of our brain, but many different areas.

Due to this, when our brain has to process unfamiliar information/tasks, it takes longer to organize it and therefore that period of time feels longer.

Novelty can slow down time and make it seem like you are living longer.

 


Naps Improve Daily Performance

Science shows us that many amazing benefits are to be had by short 40min-1 hour nap breaks, here and there.

Two of the biggest boosts the body experiences from frequent napping is increased learning capability and improved memory function.

This happens because when you take time to nap, your brain can process the temporary storage areas located in the right hemisphere and move things to long term storage, which locks in the memories.

This in turn gets the brain ready to take in new information and learn new things.


Stress Changes the Size of Your Brain

Stress is the most common factor in changes to brain function.

Many recent studies show that are brain actually shrinks if we are constantly exposed to stressful situations.

Stress has always been known as an unhealthy factor when disproportionately experienced, but as we have come to understand the brain more thoroughly, the more we realize how truly toxic stress can become.


Meditation is Healthy

Some may put aside meditation as new-age nonsense, but the truth is that the practice has many natural benefits for the brain.

Those who frequently meditate have been found to be less anxious, more creative, and able to maintain memories more effectively.

Additionally, meditation has been connected to creating more compassion in those who practice it.


Vision is the Strongest Sense

Although we have five senses, studies suggest that our vision takes precedence over the other four.

Given the guesswork our brain actually does when building our vision, this fact is somewhat worrisome.

Professional wine tasters have even been known to be tricked by white wines that have simply been dyed red. In fact, the sheer amount of areas in the brain that are informed by vision alone is astounding.

The healthiest and least stressful ways to commute to work

best ways to comute to work

The way you commute to work every day has an effect on your mental and physical health. Having to constantly deal with stress on the way to and back from work every day is not ideal.

Given that the average commuter spends an hour every day getting to and from work, managing your commuting habits will make a full 1/24th of your life better.

According to a recent study of over 4,000 participants by the McGill University,

  • Driving is often the most stressful and least healthy option available to the average commuter.
  • In second place is public transport.
  • And the least stressful and healthiest way to commute is walking.

People who drive to work and back every day tend to have higher blood pressure, increased heart rates and a generally lowered tolerance to frustration.

In a study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the over 4,200 people surveyed helped back up these claims. Additionally, it showed that those who walked can decrease their body fat by a significant amount compared to those who drive every day. Metabolism and cholesterol levels are also able to be kept in check by cutting down on the frequency of your driving.

You are not the only one being negatively affected by your driving habits, however. Both your community and your relationship with others get some negative consequences from your habits. Social and economic affects of driving include an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, worse traffic, and higher community stress levels. Additionally, the more that people have to drive, the more areas that get taken up by roads.

In a recent study by the Environment and Behavior journal, excessive daily driving also harms the creation of what they refer to as “social capital.” This term refers to the ability for a community to build valuable social relationships and economical development. Simply put, the journal refers to social capital as “the glue that holds societies together and without which there can be no economic growth or human well-being.”

For those that have to remain driving at some points, it can be useful to find a way to do a community/shared commute. By having several people use one car to get back and forth every day, harmful emissions are cut down, and the ability for social capital to increase gets boosted.

The best way to benefit yourself and your community, however, is by switching to biking, walking, or public transportation for your daily commute. Doing so will increase your mood, boost your physical health, and benefit your community. Additionally, many studies suggest that your risk for cancer is significantly lowered by changing your commuting practices to these healthy alternatives.

Your body is designed to move, and by keeping that need out of your daily routine you are harming your ability to lead an excellent life.

Another benefit of cutting down on driving is the safety you gain in your day-to-day routine. Car accidents claim many lives every year. Those who commute by walking or biking or public transport, on the other hand, experience a much lower rate of accidents.

Your hormone levels could impact your career success

hormones career success

When you look at the CEOs of the most powerful companies, many qualities come to mind.

You think of charismatic, extroverted people who dedicate themselves day and night to the future of a company; people who can push themselves to the limit, no matter what the task.

One factor you may never have considered, however, is that they have a combination of high testosterone and low cortisol.

Testosterone is important for male sexual/reproductive development, and many studies have linked it to leadership traits such as aggressiveness and risk-taking.

Cortisol is also know as the stress hormone, and is associated with the ‘fight or flight” response.

According to a study focusing on male executives, the amount of these hormones in men has a impact on their success. [the study was focused on men, since testosterone levels do not vary much between women].

Men who had high levels of testosterone but also high levels of cortisol, had less success and leadership responsibility. The same was the case for men with low levels of both the hormones. The combination of high testosterone and low cortisol, was associated with the greatest leadership responsibilities/abilities.

A high level of cortisol has the potential to curb testosterone, which actually diminishes the aggression and competitive habits of a person. This implies that too much stress can inhibit your leadership and success potential.

During the research, 78 male executives were studied while participating in an executive education program at Harvard. To measure the levels of testosterone and cortisol, saliva samples were taken. After this, researchers began to determine the amount of subordinates and leadership responsibilities each man had.

Speaking on the findings, lead study researcher Gary Sherman had this to say: “Stress reduction has leadership implications. It can unleash leadership potential in employees who might otherwise not show it.”

Stress has long been considered a factor that is harmful for health, but this new study suggests that it also plays a large role in the ability of an individual to succeed in the first place.

Given these findings, stress management should be a top priority for all those out there who strive to be the best they can be.

Continuing his comments on the study, Gary Sherman stated, “The literature has, by and large, treated stress as a consequence of low status, the current findings suggest that stress may also have an additional role as a gatekeeper of the various psychological and physiological processes that determine status”