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How To Have Ideas

How To Have Ideas

You may have noticed that this week has been Creativity Week as far as this blog is concerned. To conclude this week’s focus I thought it would be useful to present some ideas about…how to have ideas. Creativity doesn’t necessarily have to be the creation of something brand new. It may be that you discover a way of improving something that already exists – accountants (who may not consider themselves creative) can be creative in their own way, for example by streamlining spreadsheets or processes.

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The Creative Brain

Leading on from the last post on creativity, I thought it would be appropriate to include an insight from expert, Tony Buzan on the creative brain. This is a really interesting video in which he cites Leonardo Da Vinci as having said that everyone is an artist and everyone is a scientist. From the moment we are born, we start to experiment and we continue to experiment throughout our lives, mostly unknowingly of course: [Read more…]

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How To Find Happiness

How To Find HappinessDo you ever wonder what makes some people just appear really happy, all the time? If you’d like to know how to find happiness, then who would be better to learn from, other than the happiest man in the world? According to researchers at Wisconsin University, French Tebetan monk and molecular geneticist, Matthieu Ricard, is happier than every other person on the planet. (I do wonder how they concluded their findings to be absolute, but let’s roll with it for now.) [Read more…]

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How To Free Your Mind

A major obstacle to focus and productivity can be an overactive brain. In fact, this leads to stress, anxiety and sleep disorders as well. If you would like to learn how to free your mind, then this simple exercise will definitely help. In this video, Jim Bunch explains a  process that involves a complete mind dump which means putting literally everything that is on your mind onto paper. This process alone frees up your mind, but the next process which he calls GPA – which stands for Goals, Projects and Actions, allows you to categorise everything that is on your mind, followed by a prioritisation exercise. [Read more…]

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Sleep And Your Brain

Sleep And Your Brain If you struggle with focus and concentration, it may be worth assessing how much sleep you’re getting every night and gaining an understanding of how sleep and your brain health are heavily linked. There’s a bit of a worldwide debate going on about how much sleep we need each night and there doesn’t appear to be a general rule of thumb. Some people survive on four hours a night, others can’t function on less than 8 hours a night. One thing that is certain though, is that chronic sleep deprivation is harmful to your brain – in fact it can have the same effects on your brain as aging does – namely, the part of your brain responsible for your memory – your hippocampus – starts to shrink. Scary much? [Read more…]

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How To Improve Your Memory

CyclingIf you’d like to learn how to improve your memory, then stop what you’re doing now! No matter how young or old we are, we have a brain that needs protecting and looking after. On a societal level, there are things that we do or don’t do which can can affect our brains – like, living an inactive lifestyle, not drinking enough water, over-indulging in alcohol, consuming the wrongs types of food and exposure to certain chemicals. As we age, the part of the brain responsible for memory starts to shrink, but this can be significantly slowed. [Read more…]

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Your Hour Of Power

I’ve called this post “Your Hour Of Power” as it’s what world famous Peak Performance Coach, Tony Robbins, calls this precious time of your day to spend on you, to de-stress, get focused, visualise and be grateful for everything you have in your life.  We live in a crazy, fast-paced world these days and most of us never take any time out to focus on us. In this article, Pip Thomas talks about how she’s incorporated this time into her life by taking her dog for a walk and visualising on the outcome(s) she intends to achieve in the day to come.

MeditationThe first hour of your day will totally influence the way the rest of your day will unfold and what you will achieve. So is it right to fill your head up with conversations to be had, emails that need sorting or lists you have still got to write? Are you best to focus on being grounded, setting a clear intent for the day, how you wish to feel and behave – and as a result – what you want to achieve?

Tony Robbins and Richard Branson, along with a number of other highly successful entrepreneurs, will not even consider checking their emails or picking up a phone until they have spent time on ‘them’. Whether you opt for meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or other affirmations, the impact will mean a positive start to your day.

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I came across the idea of your hour of power when listening to Tony Robbins’ “Get The Edge”. Other highly successful entrepreneurs like Eben Pagan and Richard Branson call this your daily ritual or daily success ritual where you set aside about an hour each day to make yourself strong for the day by incorporating exercise which alleviates all your stress, gets all the right chemicals flowing around your body and brain, and you combine it with visualising everything you want to achieve that day, that week, that month or year, for your body, friendships, relationships, your loved ones, finances, hobbies, spirituality and emotions in general. Tony Robbins says he has met so many people who seem to have everything but they’re unfulfilled, yet he’s met others who seemingly have nothing but they’re grateful, which makes them rich and fulfilled. I’ve actually been doing this for the last few months and have noticed quite a difference in my frame of mind. By simply taking time out to be grateful for everything you have already in your life, this shifts your mindset to one which is positive and fully charged  to take on the day ahead. We build our days – it’s up to us to create them. We need to take time out for ourselves or our lives will flash past us!

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How To Train Your Focus Muscles

Sometimes, I just love the articles that I read. I’ve called this article “How To train Your Focus Muscles” as our brain is a muscle and our ability to focus can be strengthened much like our muscles can be. We live in an era of ‘hyper distraction’ where the majority of people are multitasking (or task switching), being bombarded with alerts from left, right and centre, and this is causing havoc with our levels of concentration and focused attention and it’s really not good for our brains. In fact, multitasking has been proven to be damaging to our brains. Thankfully, there are ways we can boost our ability to focus, one of which is a very basic form of meditation. Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Willpower Instinct,” explains a basic  technique to get the part of your brain responsible for focused attention, the prefrontal cortex, pumping:

How To Train Your Focus Muscles1. Sit still, either on a chair with your feet flat on the floor or on the ground with your legs crossed. Try not to move or fidget around, especially when that itch starts to creep up or you feel the urge to change positions. Stay still. It’s important to train you not to follow your impulses.

2. To help you concentrate, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. When you breath in, in your mind, say “inhale.” And think “exhale” when you breathe out. It activates the prefrontal cortex and quells the stress and craving parts of the brain.

3. Hone in on the way you breath and how wandering feels. After a few minutes of inhale and exhale, focus just on the sensation of breathing. If you notice your mind start to wander, focus back on breathing and say inhale and exhale a few times. That helps to train both self-awareness and self-control.

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If you’d like to know how to train your focus muscles other using a method other than meditation, then one technique is to concentrate on one task for as long as you can, having unplugged from all distractions, until you notice that your attention is taken away. Note how long you lasted, and then try it again the next day. You can actually build up your concentration span over time. I’ve done this myself. Meditation is clearly one of the most effective ways of boosting your focus muscles as described in this article but it may not be for everyone! Having said that, it really doesn’t have to be that weird and “out there”.  You don’t have to do it in public, and you don’t have to sit like a monk – unless you want to of course.

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7 Foods That Can Help Boost Your Focus

We’ve all heard the saying ‘we are what we eat’. This rings true as much for our minds as it does for the rest of our body and vital organs. Here are 7 foods that can help boost your focus created by Amy Paturel for the Huffington Post. As far as I’m aware, through no fault of their own, very few people understand the importance of nutrition for our minds. If they did, they wouldn’t eat such cr*p! I’ve probably just alienated a few people but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. In fact, the majority of what we find in our supermarkets does not provide much quality nutrition at all. Check out this article to see an easy to read slideshow of foods that are great for our brains and therefore focus.

Brain FoodThe trick, says Patricia Bannan, M.S., R.D., author of Eat Right When Time is Tight, is fueling your body with foods that enhance focus, memory and concentration. Most of these gems are chock full of nutrients like fiber (which keeps you satisfied so you’re not thinking about hunger pangs) and essential fatty acids (which smooth connections in the brain).

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These 7 foods than can help boost your focus are congruent with my understanding of what our brain needs to function. Our brain needs essential fatty acids from foods such as avocados and and eggs. They’re called essential fatty acids as our body cannot produce them; we have to make a conscious effort to actually consume these daily. Fatty acids form the membranes surrounding brain cells, through which oxygen, glucose and antioxidants pass in and metabolic waste passes out. Our brain cells need them to produce brain cells. What wasn’t mentioned in these brain foods was complex carbohydrates to provide the brain with glucose – it’s key fuel. For more information on the right sorts of carbohydrates for our brain, see this article here.

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Exercise Can Reverse The Effects Of Alcohol?

Time to revive this blog and what better way to start than to discover that exercise can reverse the effects of alcohol! An abundance of research has proven that exercise generates blood flow and therefore oxygen to the brain, which helps with neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells or neurons) and slows brain shrinkage. However, new research at the University of Colorado has shown that cardiovascular exercise can decrease white-matter damaged by alcohol. Check out this article for more info:

Exercise to reverse the effects of alcohol Working out can help former heavy drinkers limit the damage alcohol has done to their brain.

New research has found that aerobic exercise may alleviate some of the white-matter damage caused by heavy drinking.

Previous studies have shown aerobic exercise can slow cognitive decline and decrease negative neural changes associated with normal ageing and several diseases. 

The new study investigated if aerobic exercise may also prevent or repair alcohol-related neurological damage, finding that it may in fact protect white matter from alcohol-related damage.

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We all enjoy the occasional tipple now and again but no one really knows about the negative effect it’s having on us. At least now with the knowledge that exercise can reverse the effects of alcohol, we can at least attempt to alleviate the damage we do to ourselves. Aerobic exercise is also the number one method for emotional renewal, according to Tony Schwartz who wrote The Power Of Full Engagement and therefore the best stress reliever on the planet. Since stress causes brain shrinkage, this is yet another reason to make exercise a priority in your daily routine. Did you find this article useful? Please share!

 

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