Strategies to Boost Brain Function, Increase Motivation, and Manage Stress While Working from Home
Although the reopening process has begun, COVID-19 has created enduring changes to the way we live and work. These changes have impacted people in many different ways, ranging from having to work from home to wearing facemasks while out at the grocery store. One of the most drastic outcomes resulting from the pandemic is the economic ramifications. Millions of people have been laid off, and millions more have been forced to work from home with all of the social-distancing measures that have been put in place.
Whether you are working from home, or back in the office, the global turbulence takes an emotional toll. Such high levels of acute stress put the body in a state of survival and are not sustainable for long periods of time. It is more important now than ever to take time to build healthy habits in order to mitigate these high stress levels and know there is light at the end of the tunnel. High stress levels often are accompanied by negative thoughts that make it difficult to be productive throughout the course of the workday. Learning to manage our stress is vital to maintaining productivity and motivation while working from home.
Include Self-Care in Your Daily Routine
It is much easier to remain motivated while in an office setting because we are surrounded by our coworkers and our boss is down the hall. While working from home, we are put in a much more autonomous position where we are responsible for managing ourselves. This is why it is so important to create a daily routine and structure to closely emulate conditions we were used to prior to COVID-19. Creating the ideal daily routine would involve at least an hour in the morning after waking and an hour prior to going to sleep that is dedicated solely to self-care activities. These self-care activities may include yoga, exercise, meditation, cooking, journaling, and more. Everybody has their own preferences, but it is important to find activities we are engaged in and look forward to on a daily basis.
A few activities that are great ways to reduce stress include movement and meditation. The key similarity between these two activities is that they both increase circulation within the body, helping the body to wake up and increase alertness by stimulating blood flow to the brain. Movement can be as simple as going for a daily walk, stretching, lifting weights, or doing yoga. The human body is designed to move, so it is important to include at least 30 minutes of movement on a daily basis, otherwise our muscles tighten up and restrict blood flow. Maintaining healthy blood flow to our brains through the day is what keeps the mind alert, active, and focused on the task at hand.
One of the most efficient ways to reduce stress and boost brain function is through the practice of meditation. The practice of meditation may have a religious or spiritual affiliation along with it for some people, but beyond that, it is comparable to lifting weights for the brain. Research shows that consistent practice helps to spark the growth of new tissue in the brain, as well as new connections between major brain structures, resulting in a larger brain. A meditation practice can be as simple as taking 5 to 10 minutes every morning in a quiet place to sit with the eyes closed, and consciously take deep, slow breaths for that period of time. Stress is caused by overactivity of the nervous system, causing us to lose control of the breath, making it shallow and heavy. Learning to control the breath through the consistent practice of meditation puts people in a position to stop stress dead in its tracks by calming the nervous system. This is an effective recipe for becoming an expert at regulating the nervous system and managing stress.
Aneesh Chaudhry is the founder of SoulPhysio Lifestyle, a brain health clinic and integrative healthcare network, where he, along with a team of physicians, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals, work to improve mental and physical wellness through lifestyle modification that addresses the mind, body, and spirit. Chaudhry is also a corporate wellness consultant who has been working in the field of health and wellness for more than eight years. Based out of Orange County, CA, Chaudhry and his team specialize in the utilization of treatments that combine both Eastern and Western medical techniques.