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Why you need a Weekly Reset

Why you need a Weekly Reset

How many times have you said the following to yourself? “I can’t wait for vacation to start so I can reset, refresh and get going again.” Or perhaps… “I wish I had a vacation coming up so I could reset, clear my mind and refocus” And while thinking about how much you need a reset and a vacation, the actual time between now and your actual vacation keeps growing so much that we keep building up this event so we can rest, rethink our priorities and re-energize.

If we come back from our vacation rejuvenated, the reset was a success, if we don’t the reset was not long enough – we didn’t have enough time on our vacation to accomplish all that we wanted to do.  And/or if we come back totally stressed out, we blame it on doing too much on the vacation, instead of resting

But all of this could not be further from the truth because the problem is not what you are doing to reset, but rather the frequency of the reset itself. No matter the long hours you are working, the project deadlines and deliverables, you need to have an ongoing, consistent reset that has the potential to replenish your spirit – physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s a tall order, but not impossible.

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There are a number of paths a weekly reset can take – they don’t all need to be sweat inducing marathons of yoga or deep introspective reading but they should be enough to free your mind and disengage it from your day-to-day so it forces you to focus solely on the task at hand.

Physical

Exercise is a great reset because it jumbles all the chemicals in your body and forces you to focus on the next task at hand – that next run, those next barbells, that last push-up – primarily because if you fall or drop a dumbell, it is going to hurt.

But even when you have such a dedicated focus on the task at hand, your mind wanders from your problems at hand to focussing on the pain in your knee (how can you make it better) or the sore muscles in your shoulder (which feel good) as your mind leaves the results of the last meeting behind you.

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I have never practiced yoga but have watched as many people eagerly attend sessions that let them focus on balance and stretching for an hour or more – leaving the room energized, motivated and refreshed. For awhile I was doing a lot of swimming and found this a great way to relax and refresh. Thinking of work problems stopped when I swam repetivive laps back and forth for an hour.

Mental

Reading a book in a genre you have never read before or writing about a topic that you have no knowledge or experience writing in are great ways to reset your mind to other problems and learn something new at the same time. Think back to when you wanted to build that backyard deck and you had to buy all those books to learn what to do. You’d read, spend time drawing it out, looking at what other people had done and learning. You might not have known it at the time, but you gave yourself a mental reset.

Spiritual

Without going into religion or faith, we all need to replenish and reset our spirit as often as we can. What that means to anyone can be very different – some people welcome and enjoy the company of others, feeding off their energy as a community to feel replenished while others prefer the solidarity of being left to their own thoughts while they watch the wind blow through the trees.

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There is no magic answer except for understanding and becoming aware that this level of reset is important for you to re-evaluate who you are and where you are going. It is not easy and generally involves us asking ourselves some hard questions about ourselves. And when do we generally have time to do this? When on vacation, when we can think and ponder on actions and decisions we have taken.

A reset can be anything but watching TV on your device of choice, is not a reset, instead, it’s more or less of a middle ground where you watch what is happening, but you drift to picking up your phone, reading that book or doing something else. It doesn’t require your focus and doesn’t leave you feeling replenished. TV can be great for relaxation and enjoyment but not as a reset.

And therein lies the key to any reset, it must pull in your focus 100% to the task at hand. I have found time over time that the best resets are the ones that thrust us out of our known comfort zone. Something that we are not familiar with, that requires 100% of your focus because you can’t waiver. This is why vacations are such a great reset because we go somewhere new, try something different, enjoy a new type of cuisine, the list is endless of all the “new” things we do that take us outside of our comfort zone.

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Think back to how refreshed and energized you felt when you came back from your last vacation, now step back and think to where and how you commit to getting that feeling every week, those fresh eyes and worldview and how they would benefit not only the problems you are working on but the problems your team and others are working on and how much better a position you would be in to help them out.

Featured photo credit: VFS Digital Design via imcreator.com

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Greg Thomas

Software Architect

Successful People Aren’t Luckier Than Everybody Else, They Just Know How to Make Good Decisions To Be a Better Person, We Need to Go Through 5 Stages of Changes Bad Bosses Bark Out Orders, Good Bosses Coach Their Teams Your Routine is the Key to Achieving Your Goals Why you need a Weekly Reset

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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