Expecting a Stressful Day? 3 Tips to Think Better on your Feet!
Everyday we think ahead to anticipate what might come our way.
How you think about the world has a huge impact on your day.
On a work day, I anticipate health related emergencies I might need to deal with as a Nurse Practitioner.
On a weekend, i anticipate getting through my to do list.
On a vacation, I anticipate the multitude of ways I will relax.
All of this thinking and anticipating affects our cognitive function and working memory.
A study determined stress - real or anticipated - whether or not something bad actually happened - decreases working memory
Whenever we perform tasks that require reasoning, comprehension, and learning, we use our working memory.
Our working memory allows us to hold relevant information in our brain while we do something else at the same time.
So, if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or argue with a spouse in the morning or have a big exam you are stressed about - all of the key things you need to accomplish in the day will be affected.
You will be more likely to mess something up.
Miss a stop sign while driving, burn your eggs, leave your coffee on top of your car, forget to put your name on your exam sheet and so on.
Interestingly, this only applied to stress anticipation in the morning and not in the evening.
So if tonight you are feeling like tomorrow is going to be a stressful day - you are in luck - you can affect how you are going to wake up feeling tomorrow.
If it's already "tomorrow" and you are feeling like today is going to be a stressful day I'll help you out with that as well.
Tip 1: Do a ten minute guided meditation
Meditation decreases stress hormones like adrenaline that contribute to unnecessarily high levels of stress and affect your brain and body chemistry for hours after being released.
Find a 10 minute guided meditation on YouTube, put in some headphone, sit in a comfortable seat with your feet firmly on the ground and press play.
Follow the instructions and transport your mind. Focus on the instructions, taking deep breaths, imagining a ball of white light traveling from your feet to the top of your head, going along for the ride and feeling bliss for a short period before you start your day.
Don't have 10 minutes? Three or five minutes will do.
There is no lion chasing you today.
Tip 2: Set reminders
Research tells us that you and I have a tendency to forget important things when feeling stressed!
Set reminders on your smartphone.
10:00am meet your boss.
11:00am call mom.
1:00pm meet with Mandy.
5:30pm pick up dry cleaning,
6:00pm pick up 2 green apples and a carrot for that thing you wanted to cook.
8:00pm cuddle your cat.
Tip 3: Lift Weights
Not only is strengthening your working memory similar to strengthening your physical muscles, but strengthening your physical muscles can actually strengthen your brain!
The connection between brain and brawn isn't clear yet, but the same relationship doesn't exist with cardio exercise.
If you are a cardio queen or marathon runner you may be spiking your cortisol in the same way as if you were being chased by a bear in the woods.
So, add weight training to your morning exercise to improve your working memory.
Need more guidance to manage your stress?