Resources and Insights

4 Brain boosts for 2024

Until the last 12 months or so I was one of those people whose default setting was glass at least three quarters full, no problem getting motivated, incredibly focused on getting the job done and generally a happy chicken.

In 2023, the hormone rollercoaster of peri menopause has made me reach for all the tools I’ve been talking about for years, and add to them, to help myself out when I wake up in a low mood.

We all know the basics – eat well most of the time, get sleep, move your body, drink less wine and more water. And those are the foundations, but here’s some of the extras I added in 2023 that are coming with me into 2024:

1. Gardening viewed as productive work time

I have my best ideas whilst staring at Outlook, said no one ever. Getting into my garden is so productive for my mood and my creativity that I’m dubbing pulling up weeds, as strategy development time.

Where do you have your best ideas? How might you give yourself permission to see that as something you can do on work time?

2. Breathing

Obviously I’ve some experience already in this area but before you roll your eyes, when asked the question what got her through the aftermath of the 2016 election defeat, Hilary Clinton answered ‘alternate nostril breathing’. If it’s good enough for Hilary….

What do you go to reset your nervous system after a stressful meeting? How can you incorporate more of that into your day?

3. Seeing a new therapist

I’ve had some mediocre therapy in the past, and some great therapy. That has largely to do with – yes the experience and expertise of the therapist – but also my readiness to reflect and learn, and the strength of the relationship we are able to build. For me, a coach, therapist, supervisor, whatever their actual title is, has to be trained in a way that I’m forced to engage with my emotions, so I can let them go, process and feel lighter. I can talk a very good talk to any therapist and leave not feeling any better. I’ve found someone who encourages me to look at the dark scary parts of myself in a way that feels safe and trusting. Hooray!

Who is in your board room? Who do you feel sufficiently safe with that you are able to open up and be vulnerable? As a society we don’t pay enough attention to our emotions as a guiding system, as so many of us were talk to suppress them. It’s one of the reasons I trained in EFT, so I can help clients process the hard stuff in way that means they don’t have to share with me all the gory details. You know where I am if you want some of that.

4. Managing my screen time

I hate the way we are ruled by our phones! I work against it as much as I can, because I’m as liable to go down a hole of parenting videos on Instagram as the next person. Back in September I downloaded an app blocker – it’s a simple one where you can block certain apps between certain times, or just click a simple ‘quick block’ function.

It helped a bit, but quite a lot was going on that week, a bereavement, not feeling well, and in search of that dopamine hit we’ve been trained to find from our phones, I just ended up endlessly reading my news app instead. Gah! So I added my news apps to the blocked list too.

Soon I was left with Whatsapp and my emails.

So I uploaded an app called Flora (there’s another one called Forest too) and that works as a carrot – every time you want to put your phone down you can set a virtual plant growing, and if you manage to leave it for say 25 minutes the plant grows into a tree for your virtual garden. If you pick up your phone, you kill the plant 🙁 You can even subscribe to turn your plants in to actual real life plants if you want to be super incentivised.

The irony of the modern world is that the tech is moving more quickly than we can keep up with and it’s re-wiring our neural circuitry. We can sit around (on our phones) and get frustrated with this, or we can celebrate the small wins, and congratulate ourselves for the marginal gains. They all add up!

What do you do to manage your own screen time? Does it work? I find it’s a constant evolution of little tweaks here and there. And then I get ill and it all goes to pot and they I start again.

What have you recently introduced to your life to look after yourself?

Which of the above would you like to adopt in 2024?

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