Practice deep breathing
Upon waking up, the first thing is to take 10–20 deep breaths. Focus on releasing any muscle tension in your body, which helps shift stuck energy and opens up to be more adaptable and responsive during the day to achieve your goals.
The reason, is because deep breathing supports neuroplasticity, which is our brain’s ability to be flexible and learn and grow throughout our life. “Neuroplasticity gives us the power to change our brain—and, therefore, re-invent our life at any age, any stage, or any mindset,”. For example, if there’s a habit you want to quit or a goal you want to achieve, neuroplasticity is what enables us to make those changes instead of staying stuck in our old patterns or ways of thinking. “Mindful breathing can also reduce the size of the amygdala, which promotes stress reduction effects. The amygdala is the part of the brain that detects if you are in danger and activates the fight or flight response,” “When you practice diaphragmatic breathing, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and go into the ‘rest and digest’ mode, which helps lower your blood pressure and cortisol levels.”
Visualize your goals
If you don’t already have a vision board, or “action boards,” carve out some time to create one. “An action board is a collage, made by hand or digitally, with literal or metaphorical representations of what we desire in life.
It’s more than just visualizing, though. The key is to engage the body and feel what it feels like for those desires to be real with all of your senses. “Looking at these images daily, visualizing them being true, experiencing what that feels like, and giving gratitude for it primes the brain to notice and grasp opportunities in the real world to make these goals come true.
The brain does this through selective attention and value tagging. “Selective attention is literally paying attention, or noticing, the things that are relevant to you thriving, not just surviving,” Dr. Swart says. “Value tagging is how the brain tags things in order of importance, and the visual triggers from the action board have an impact on this versus just going out into the world with no clear imagery of what you truly want.”
Spend time in nature
“Walk outdoors in nature, or do barefoot walking as often as you can, both for movement and oxygenation, but also for the incredible brain and body benefits of spending time in nature: improved mood, lower stress, increased attention, less anxiety,”. Since sunlight also helps improve mood and boost energy and movement, in general, is great for mental and physical health, you can reap many benefits with this daily practice. Bonus points if you also do some tree hugging.
Write a gratitude list
List 10 things you are grateful for every day. Listing internal resources you’re grateful for, such as resilience, creativity, or vulnerability, along with gratitude for the things you want as if they’re already true. “This shifts the brain from fear—stress hormone cortisol—to love/trust—oxytocin and dopamine—allowing us to take healthy risks rather than hold back and stay stuck,” she explains. If you’re new to having a gratitude practice, consider using a gratitude journal with built-in prompts to help get those gratitude juices flowing.
Silence the mind
Another practice to incorporate into your daily routine is creating time and space to quiet your mind, which helps induce creativity in the brain. “Spend some time regularly just ‘being’ rather than doing and allowing my mind to wander,”. “Mind wandering shifts the brain from ‘control mode,’ which is switched on to task focus, toward the ‘default mode,’ which is to do with idea generation, out of the box problem solving, and creative thinking.”