Most people are on a quest to increase their productivity in order to do less and achieve more. Tips on how to organize your passwords, instructions on how to handle e-mail, advice to take creativity breaks, and information on how to apply Stephen Covey’s four-quadrant matrix are examples of advice that can help you become more productive.
However, the most important productivity tool that exists is your mind, and your moods have a powerful effect on your mind’s ability to function efficiently and effectively. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do to increase your productivity is learning how to self-regulate your moods. Fortunately, your body is fully equipped to help you do just that. Below you will find seven ways to help you self-regulate your moods.
Since breathing is something we can easily control and regulate, it’s a useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind. Andrew Weil, M.D.–a world-renowned pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing approach which encompasses body, mind, and spirit–, advices the following: “Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems.”
One of the breathing exercises that he recommends is the 4-7-8 or Relaxing Breath, a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system. Simply place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. Then follow these steps:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. In addition, exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.
Giving yourself a massage is another great way to elevate your mood. Deepak Chopra, an internationally recognized expert on the mind-body connection, is a big proponent of self-massage for mood regulation. He indicates in his book “Grow Younger, Live Longer”, that a massage gives you access to your inner pharmacy, and a slow, calming massage releases natural relaxing chemicals. You should gently massage your scalp as if you were shampooing your hair; then apply oil to your forehead, cheeks, chin, and ears; slowly massage the back of your ears and your temples; also, massage your feet.
3. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
This is basically an emotional version of acupuncture, except needles aren’t used. Instead, you stimulate energy meridian points on your body by tapping on them with your fingertips. It’s very easy to learn and very effective in helping you to release any negative emotions you may be feeling and altering your mood. You can get the EFT manual for free at www.emofree.com, and there are several videos on YouTube that show basic EFT routines you can use.
Nature has provided yet another way to help activate your relaxation response: laughter. Over the past several years countless studies have been conducted that show the positive effects that laughing has on one’s physical and mental health. Laughter is one of the body’s best coping mechanisms for the normal stress of life, and is also conducive to increased problem solving abilities and creativity. Pioneers in laughter research–such as Dr. William Fry of Stanford University–have documented the many benefits associated with a hearty laugh, such as the following:
- Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline.
- When we laugh our bodies release hormones and chemicals that have positive effects on our system.
- Laughing raises your mood; joyfulness through laughter is the fastest way to create a positive state of mind.
- When used in conjunction with conventional care, laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process. Norman Cousins, a prominent political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate, details in his memoir, “Anatomy of an Illness”, that after being diagnosed with a painful condition called ankylosing spondylitis he would watch Marx Brothers films to help him ease the pain. He reported that 10 minutes of laughter allowed him up to two hours of pain-free sleep.
5. Music and Sound
Music and sound can also be used to help you change your mood. In “Writing the Mind Alive”, Laura Trichter Metcalf and Tobin Simon explain that Baroque music—such as Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Pachbel’s “Canon”–has been shown to synchronize brain waves at about sixty cycles per second, a frequency associated with increased alpha waves. In turn, alpha is a frequency of mind associated with relaxation. In addition, you can refresh yourself with the gentle whisper of a white-noise machine or a table fountain.
Your physiology has an enormous impact on your mood. Stretch; by relaxing tense muscles you will improve your mood. Lean your right ear down to your right shoulder and elongate the left side of your neck at the same time. Now do the same on the other side. Next, look down and drop your chin towards your chest. Then slowly allow your head to roll to the right and then to the left. Repeat these exercises gently until you feel yourself losing up.
Raise your arms; interlace your fingers over your head with your palms facing downward. Inhale and raise your arms upward with your fingers stills interlaced; then exhale and release. Turn your torso to the right and to the left as far as you can. Try a few shoulder circles as well.
Go out for a jog or a brisk walk. Studies show that one of the quickest and surest ways to boost your mood is to exercise. Physical exercise helps your body to release stress hormones, generates endorphins, increases levels of serotonin, and balances the brain.
Although many people feel that they’re hapless prisoners to their moods, your body is equipped with feel good hormones and other chemicals which you can easily tap into in order to quickly alter your mood. Using your inner pharmacy to elevate your mood is fast, easy, and inexpensive. In addition, a calm mood will put you in the ideal state of mind to be able to function in an efficient and productive manner so that you’re free to create and get through the items on your to-do list.
Written by Marelisa Fabrega who blogs at http://abundance-blog.marelisa-online.com.