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Your Morning Power Hour: Maximise the Mundane with 5 Neuroscience Habit Stacks

How to create 1 hour connecting to a sparkling, fulfilled life

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We all scream of being time-poor and tired, whilst the research says we are more depressed, anxious and lonely than ever before.  But what if you were to use the mundane to create a connected, sparkling, fulfilled life? 

So what’s the trick?  It’s ‘habit stacking’: a term originally coined by Wall Street Journal bestselling author S.J Scott. In his book “Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less”, he encourages us to “build routines around habits that don’t require effort” because “small wins build momentum because they’re easy to remember and complete.” The idea is that you take advantage of existing habits already engrained in your brain’s network of neurons, to incorporate new behaviours.

“When it comes to building new habits, you can use the connectedness of behaviour to your advantage. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top”

James Clear, Atomic Habits

According to Korn Ferry, the volume of information we need to master and manage is accelerating at an enormous pace. In 1 minute it takes you to read this page, more than 2 million searches will be made, 47,000 apps downloaded, 48 hours of video uploaded and 204 million emails sent. Exhausted? Yep, me too. This is why we need to be smart with our time.

Here are 5 neuroscience-based tools you can use to create an extra hour of power every morning, just using your existing routine:

1. Waking up:  Before you even move, take 3 grateful breaths, drinking in all the reasons why you are lucky to be alive with a roof over your head. 

Benefit:  Gratefulness is proven to increase happiness levels through the release of serotonin in your brain.  It also resets your dopamine levels, allowing you to perform better and longer, and it reduces stress through activating your calming parasympathetic nervous system.

Time: 2 minutes

2. Morning cup of tea:  Before the world wakes up, take 5 minutes to meditate and be present.  Be aware of your breaths, your feet on the floor and the particular moment you are in right now.  Great apps for this are Headspace or Calm.

Benefits: Meditation is proven to build brain cognition, improve your immune system; reduce anxiety, depression stress & burnout and even reduce how much your brain experiences pain. 

Time: 5 minutes

3. Brushing your teeth:  As you polish your gnashers, visualise your Rockstar dreams.  Where are you going to achieve greatness?  What’s your dream role?  What brings you the most happiness?  Use this time to picture and experience the feeling of having the life you really want.

Benefit:  You’ll activate your brain’s chemical signatures (neurotransmitters) for positivity.  Your brain has natural filters to focus on what’s most important.  If you train it to see positivity, opportunity and your vision, you are much more likely to get there. 

Time: 3 minutes

4. It’s shower-time:  Yes, you could be belting out your favourite song, but why not belt out why you are amazing?  Use this snapshot of time to do your positive affirmations with glee – embody your brilliance with open arms (literally).  What are your strengths?  What do you bring to the world?  We ALL have qualities and unique gifts but it’s easy for us to forget and highlight the negatives in our minds.  This is your chance to acknowledge them to yourself loud and proud!

Benefit:  In order to survive, our brains are programmed to focus on the negative – called ‘Negativity Bias’ (research shows this is usually around 60-70% of our thoughts).  Positive affirmations challenge our limiting beliefs and can shift our brain to see and feel a more optimistic outlook. See how to create them here.

Time: 10 minutes

5. Breakfast:  You could scroll through pointless social media making you feel inadequate, or spend the time creating ideas with a blank sheet of paper.  What would make today great?  What do you want to get out of it?  What’s your intention?  Who can you cheer up with a hi or thank you?

Benefit:  Create a positive, efficient mental state, with clear prioritisation and goals for the day. You can also make someone else smile and feel positive which, according to Positive Psychologist, Martin Seligman’s research will also have a lasting effect on both of your happiness levels.

Time: 10 minutes

6. Exercise or Travel time: Whether it’s walking to work, in the gym or just your lockdown exercise, this is juicy time for learning.

There are some incredible podcasts out there whatever your interests.  Some of the best?  School of Greatness, How I Built this, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.

Benefit: Expand your brain into new learnings; gain inspiration and feel happier, more driven and purposeful as you grow.

Time: 30 mins

*Total time creation: 1 hour* And you have had all that positive personal growth – before you have even started work! Now that’s what I call a Morning Power Hour.

https://www.kornferry.com/insights/articles/coaching-21st-century

Gratitude: https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/?sh=41a50fd85a58

Benefits of Meditation: https://www.headspace.com/science/meditation-benefits

Negativity Bias: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652533/ Amrisha VaishTobias Grossmann, and Amanda Woodward

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