In response to what he describes as a “mental health crisis”, Exercise Physiologist and Neuroscientist Paul Taylor developed the ‘7 rituals of peak performance’. These are “7 things people can do that will improve physical and mental health, as well as cognitive performance”.
We chatted to Paul about these 7 rituals, the benefits they can have day-to-day and how to implement them.
1. Morning exercise
“Research has shown that exercise improves cognitive ability and mood, and releases growth factor in the brain,” Paul says.
Read all about yoga for beginners here.
2. Cold shower
For just 30 seconds! At the end of your regular shower, this rush of cold water will improve immune function and release the same stress response proteins that exercise does.
“A randomised control study in the Netherlands showed people who had a 30 second cold shower every day for one year had a 30 per cent reduction in sickness versus those who didn’t,” Paul says.
3. Breathing technique
“Box breathing is a technique used by the US special forces to control stress levels and put their brains in optimum condition,” Paul says.
Breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, breathe out for five seconds, hold for five seconds and then repeat. Practice this technique any time you feel stressed throughout the day or need to recoup.
Want to learn about Pranayama - AKA yoga breathing? Read about it here.
4. Mental sculpting
Create an internal role model for yourself. Name this character, visualise how they dress and their character strengths. You can also think of people you admire and add their qualities.
“Create the best version of you, and when you are struggling ask yourself 'what that version would do',” Paul says.
5. Digital sunset
Do you usually fall asleep scrolling through social media? Try and put all your devices away at least 30 minutes before bed to let your brain decompress from the day’s events.
“The sleep hormone, melatonin, drops 30 per cent from device exposure, resulting in more disturbed sleep,” Paul says.
Taking two minutes out to think about what you’re grateful for is a great way to start or end your day.
“People who regularly practice gratitude have more hope, optimism, empathy and high levels of wellbeing, are less depressed and less anxious,” Paul says.
He suggests writing down three things you’re grateful for each morning, or going around the dinner table with your family at night to get everyone involved.
7. 12-13 hour fast a night
Scientific evidence supports the benefits of fasting for both short and longer periods, for overall cellular and metabolic health.
“One of the simplest and most beneficial forms of fasting is a 13-hour night fast,” Paul says.
Implementing the 7 rituals can offer short- and long-term benefits such as a lifted mood, more energy and a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
“These rituals help people to be overall better human beings, and they will notice a positive impact in almost all areas of their lives,” Paul says.
Implementing all seven rituals at once may seem overwhelming for some, so Paul suggests picking two or three to start with over the period of a week, then gradually adding another one each week. A great tip is to create a ‘ritual board’ and tick them off as you go, which helps build momentum and gives feedback to your brain that it’s working.
You can find out more about the 7 rituals of peak performance at Mind Body Brain and on Instagram via @mindbodybrainpi
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