This is how to improve your day based on 10 tips from neuroscience

Young boy hugging his dog

Do you want to feel better, be more productive and have more fun?  Researching some recent articles and blogs I wanted to share some great ideas with you. Here is a list of ten items of relatively simple activities that any of us could apply to improve our day. See if any of these may work for you. You don’t have to take on the entire list. See if one or two might work for you.  If any of these work for you simply write them down and test them out as action item(s) to improve your day.

1.       Gratitude

It is really quite simple and you can do this nearly every day.

Reflect on what you are grateful for five minutes at the start of your day.

Consider family, friends, faith, food, shelter, employment, nature, weather, health etc. We each have so much to be grateful for. Normally we don’t take the time to reflect what we are grateful for each day. By taking five minutes to reflect on what we are grateful for we fill our blood stream with various chemicals and hormones that stay with us for up 8 hours. What a great way to get a positive start on your day. You can do this in front of the mirror while brushing your teeth and combing your hair or on your commute. Simply make the effort.

2.       Label negative feelings

The first item, this item and the next three items all come from a previous blog on this topic. By labeling negative feelings and writing them down in a journal or sharing your negative feelings with a close trusted friend, this allows you the opportunity to let negative feelings go.

When you label and let go of negative feelings you reduce your stress and feel much better.

3.       Make that decision good enough

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had all the information we need on every decision to make the best decision possible? It doesn’t always work that way does it? That’s why at the end of the day avoid the two stinky twins of BO and BS, that is Blaming Others and Blaming Self, and instead let it go.

At the end of the day give away those concerns with prayer, reflection and/or meditation.

Realize you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. You are not perfect and neither is anyone else. Forgive yourself and give your cares away.

4.       Touch loved ones

If you have an intimate relationship with someone, take the time to give each other a nice hug. Think of how good that feels.

Our brains are acknowledging that intimate touch is good for the soul.

If you don’t have an intimate relationship there are still things you can do at work and with others. Give a nice fist bump, a hand shake and if appropriate where you work a pat on the back. Spend some time with that pet and enjoy the contact. Touch is very important.

5.       15 minutes a day of quiet time

Earlier it was suggested to make the decision good enough and let your cares go at the end of the day with prayer, reflection and/or mediation. That is one example of quiet time.

Here quiet time of 15 minutes a day allows you to clear the pre-frontal cortex, much like rebooting a computer.

The prefrontal cortex is 5% of the brain mass, but requires 25% of the energy. Give it a break. Studies have shown that 50 year old’s can have the brains of a 25 year old simply by practicing this technique. Perhaps this may work at the beginning, middle or end of your day.

6.       Motivate yourself by exploring value

These next five items stem from this article from Medium. What do you do for a living? Are you motivated strictly by your paycheck? The answer for most people is no. Give what you do meaning.

Explore the value added by what you do.

For example, say you are roofer. What do you do? I tear off and build roofs for a living. Actually, you do a whole lot more. Don't you protect people and their homes?  You use your craft to construct flashing. You practice an art. Isn't it true that you work with metal, various tools, various supplies and that there really is an art to the process? Who can live without a roof? Reflect on what you do. Share this with others. Realize how you make a difference in the life of others. Be proud of what you do. Bring a little happiness into the world with others today.

7.       Your brain wants you to write it down

At the end of the day thinking about tomorrow, or at the start of your day write down what you want to do today. Realize this is only a goal. Things change. Don’t beat yourself up as other priorities come up in the course of the day. Realize it was a plan and plans change. It was your best decision at the time. As stated above avoid BO and BS.

By writing it down it is more apt to happen.

As you complete tasks, check them off. Your brain will appreciate you checking off tasks and reward you with dopamine.

8.       Use lists

When writing it down make a list. Don’t write a novel or even paragraphs. You know what it means. This is for you. As long as you understand it that is all you need.

Your brain likes lists.

Typically, we focus on about three things. With more we really appreciate lists. We can be easily distracted. Lists help us bring everything else into focus. Think of going to the grocery store.  If you have a list, you will buy what you need. You will focus on those items. This prevents you from buying things you don’t need.  Lists help you avoid distractions.

9.       Give yourself the hard stuff at the beginning of your day

Start your day by tackling the hard stuff first.

Take that list and prioritize it. Do the higher priority items first. The higher priorities should include the hardest or worst tasks. To help yourself consider labeling the tasks A, B and C. A’s have to be completed today. B’s should be completed today. C’s could be completed today. In some way prioritize tasks that makes sense to you. Mark Twain said to eat the live frog to start your day. After that everything else will seem easier. “Your frog is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”

10.   Physical exercise

This may be last, but it certainly is not least. Good brain health is associated with good physical health. It turns out good body health is good for your mind too. That includes exercise and what we eat. You don’t have to be a body builder and work out six hours a day.

You do need to get up and move.

Go for a walk by yourself. Better yet bring a friend if you would like company. Stretch. Get some regular form of exercise. Your brain will appreciate it and your body will too.

Overview

If it’s to be it is up to me.  That is it is up to you.  Did you find any golden nuggets that might help you?  If so take action going forward.

Pick one or two ideas from the 10 items listed above. Take one for a test drive. Consider it a trial run. See if it works for you.

If it does great. If not that’s fine. Try another. It’s all about you and what will work for you.

When you are in better health and you feel better about yourself, you know it and your brain and body do too. By incorporating an item or two into your day, you too may very well have a better day. You will appreciate it and so will those around you too.

About the author

Mike Gregory is an expert on conflict resolution business to government (IRS), business to business, and within businesses. Mike is an international speaker and he has written 11 books including Business Valuations and the IRS: Five Books in One, The Servant Manager and Peaceful Resolutions. Mike may be contacted directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]