By Dr. Evian Gordon, MD, PhD on Fri, Sep 13, 2019
How does nutrition and sleep play into focus?
Both nutrition and sleep require a personalized strategic daily energy management.
With nutrition, think of your brain as a Focus System that requires a continuous supply of fuel (sugar) to deal with the sustained and complimentary focus requirements outlined in the webinar.
Eating regular (every 4 hours) small amounts of low glycemic index foods for slow and steady release of sugar is best. And high glycemic foods and sugar drinks can cause sugar-energy spikes followed by a crash...not helpful for optimal focus.
Natural sleep is critical to avoid late afternoon energy and focus dips. Boosting ultradian dips (every 90 minutes) and including MOVEMENT (even a walk around the office) and titrating caffeine intake can help find the best energy level for you.
It's so obvious. But the biggest gap is between knowing and doing!
What is the best way to reach out to employees who many have challenges or decipher that these are the challenges that people are facing?
Positivity wins. No brains like negativity. Ever. So validating employees for being open to to optimize their focus, and that there are different kinds of focus they may want to explore, is one possible door opener.
Also, encourage people to share “what works for them to boost their focus and task closure” (many formats are used: a blog or brief lunch sessions in person or via video). That has multiple benefits. Firstly, most people don’t mind sharing what works. It's also most impactful when a peer tells you what works. And people can see that Everybody has focus and task closure challenges. Sharing personal brain insights builds community.
Understanding that genes are not our destiny, what are the top 3 things we can do to voluntarily impact our brain performance and health? What are the main signs that indicate that we need to seek professional help to improve our brain performance and health?
Three things to impact brain performance and health are:
- Find solutions that work to control your stress.
- Measure your brain capacity strengths, limitations, mental health challenges - so you can select what new habits to generate to “choose yourself."
- Have a growth mindset and generate a new habit every month.
- I'll add a fourth: Find Your Mission.
We all have cycles of positive and negative brain states. The main sign for needing professional help is NOT COPING with the negative intrusive pre-occupying brain state.
Can the act of focusing become a habit and use pre-frontal less brain energy over time?
Focus becomes a sustainable habit from “Small Daily 10 minutes training steps a day.” And TRANSFERING your new habit insights into Task Closures at Work, as a way of life. For innovation wide spotlight focus, you use less frontal cortex. But for task implementation and task completion, you need to engage your prefrontal cortex.
How can you overcome being drained of energy and still focus? Also what can you do to combat brain fog?
Most people have about 50,000 thoughts a day. Ask yourself how many of your are negative? Because stress and negativity are contagious and can drain energy, reduce stress, and feel like brain fog. So finding targeted “positive negativity breakers” (slow breaths, music, an aromatherapy smell that calms you, a brief exercise, etc.) can generate a reward dopamine buzz and is the best brain energy boost.
I would be interested in hearing any statistics around how individuals with various mental health disorders (ADD/ADHD, Bi-Polar, OCD, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc.) can outperform others given how their brains think. I have read some stats in recent weeks around this and am very interested to learn more.
Two examples for brain positive effects are:
- People with ADHD have an openness to explore things and an impulsive energy that helps them connect to others (their challenge is task completion).
- Mental health challenges such as bipolar disorder have been associated with heightened creativity. One theory is that the diverse bandwidth of highs (and increased energy) and lows - provides many new thoughts to connect, in new ways.
Has anyone looked at what evolution has taught us about peak performance?
That's a challenging question. Evolution has mainly taught us about how adaptation to an ecological niche, survives.
Given that evolution is primarily about safety first to survive and thrive: that's the biggest lesson to any performance. That being safe increases the brain’s bandwidth to go after rewards. That applies to peak performance as well.
Being safe and not activating the fight-flight stress network, allows the calm-flexible (vagus) network to dominate. And that network underpins a “flow” state and peak performance.
How do I deal with procrastination?
Pick something that YOU CANNOT FAIL AT. And do it. Micro-win - still secretes a dopamine reward and you have broken the inertia and negative perseveration repetition.
Also focus on doing things that magnify your strengths and not your weaknesses and negative thoughts.
Small steps. Small wins. Lead to a BIG momentum.
The brain is about DYNAMICS. Positive and negative thoughts are both contagious.
Everyone has 50,000 opportunities a day, to choose which dynamic to activate.