Productivity writer Kayla Matthews shares how to stay calm and be productive using proven techniques for stress management.
Studies suggest that the morning may be the best time to think creatively. Your mind isn’t yet occupied with the myriad of tasks you have to complete, so it’s free to explore new ideas. But unless you’re a morning person, devoting your brain to anything besides how-much-longer-can-I-get-away-with-sleeping math can seem like a tall order. Even if you prefer using your brain only after a 10:30 breakfast, all hope is not lost for your creative thinking.
You need small habits that will help you operate — and think — more efficiently and creatively when you’re starting your day. Here are ten suggestions.
1. Drink Water
Before you do anything else in your day, drink at least one full glass of water. Doing so helps kick-start your body’s processes, especially your metabolism and brain activity. A great way to maintain this habit is to fill up a 16 or 20-ounce cup with water before you go to sleep at night, then leave it by your bed. Then when you wake up, grab the cup and drink the water. Easy!
Spend a few minutes each day sitting calmly with your thoughts. It’ll help if you can make those thoughts positive. Meditating has been shown to promote divergent thinking, which is a state of mind conducive to generating new ideas.
3. Go Outside
Spending time in a natural setting can have numerous benefits for mental health and creativity — being outside taps into all five of your senses, gives your body plenty of energy and stimulates your imagination. You don’t have to spend a long time outside. Fifteen minutes is enough to energize you!
4. Look at Something Green or Blue
The colors green and blue stimulate creative thinking in our brains because we associate the color blue with the sky, ocean and openness, and green indicates growth. Spending a few minutes looking at something green or blue first thing in the morning should help stimulate your creativity. But if your wall happens to be green or blue, don’t sit and stare at it for an hour — that’s simply wasting time.
There is a direct correlation between the stimulation of the brain and the body’s physical activity. The more you exercise, the more you release chemicals into your brain that help stimulate creative thinking.
You don’t have to do anything too strenuous or time-consuming — try rebounding, a simple exercise that involves jumping on a small trampoline in your room. It helps tone your muscles, strengthen your lymphatic system and, most importantly, increase your creativity.
6. Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks
While in the car on your way to work, try listening to a podcasts or audiobooks on a subject that interests you. Having your brain focused while you’re driving helps free the rest of your mind for creative thinking. The best part is that you already have to spend time in the car, so why not make the most of it?
7. Finish Small Chores
Adult life is full of stressful responsibilities — don’t add menial chores to that stress. Early in your day, take care of the small chores that can wear on your mind as they keep piling up. Small tasks include, but aren’t limited to, unmade beds, a cluttered kitchen, full trash cans and unfolded laundry. Knocking these out early will dramatically decrease your stress levels.
8. Eat Nutritious Foods
Certain foods provide nutrients to your body that help stimulate your brain activity, which in turn increases your creative thinking. Eating early in the morning can help you wake up and positively affect your metabolism, which helps you stay more active throughout the day. Fruits, breakfast bars, yogurt with granola or an egg on a muffin are a few examples of nutritious — and delicious — foods you can eat in the morning.
9. Sing to Yourself
Singing has been shown to release endorphins that reduce your stress levels. Singing can also reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of joy. It’s true — nothing feels better than belting out your favorite song at the top of your lungs. It’s one of the few things in life that can kick start a long workday.
10. Play Video Games
Play video games that help stimulate creative thinking, like Minecraft, and promote being active, like Wii Sports, to kick start your creative morning. Avoid mindless shoot ‘em up games like Call of Duty. Playing certain video games will help your brain stay active throughout the day by forcing it to solve problems early.
Use these tips to jumpstart your creativity and energy in the morning, and you’ll thank yourself throughout the rest of the day.
For more tips on how to get the most out of your day, discover the productivity tactics of start-up CEOs.