Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Dr. Chase Davidson, DC
Did you know if you improved yourself just 1% per day on whatever skill or task you wanted, excluding weekends, you would be 26x better than when you started? This is the same philosophy that the performance director of Great Britain's Cycling team, David Brailsford, lead his athletes to win 8 metals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as 59 world championships during his time as director.
We vastly underestimate the power of habits and how they influence our lives. Our habits should be in line with our life goals and serve us not hinder us. Some of the minor habits we build today can lead to exponential returns.
Here are 6 habits we at WPC like to use to strive for 1% improvements and to optimize our day.
Drink a full glass of water right when you wake up:
We should be drinking anywhere from 1.5-2 liters of water a day depending on your size. Most people are getting nowhere near that target, and for something as vital to our physiology as water why not get a head start on your day? Filling up a glass of water and putting it on your nightstand the night before makes it easy to roll over and start your day off right.
Listen to Positive / Motivational material when you wake up:
When we wake our brains are firing at a different frequency than when we are fully awake. As we start to wake we transition from Theta (4-8hz) to Alpha (9-13hz) frequencies. This change in arousal states makes it easy to obtain passive information like podcasts or other audio recordings without having to tune in to every word. You can listen to whatever makes you happy, inspired, motivated, and ready to take on the day. Some of the channels on Youtube we in the office listen to are Motivational Madness, Law of Attraction Coaching, and Motiversity.
In a world that has become so convenient based, it is easy to fall back to the ease of swinging by your favorite food stop to grab something on the go. Whether it's missing lunch because you were relying on leftovers for dinner or not wanting to make dinner due to the exhaustion of work meal prepping can be your answer. Meal planning and prepping takes the cognitive work of deciding your meals out of the everyday equation. Spending one day a week to cook the majority of your food frees up time in the rest of your week to be more productive. A study from 2017 showed that those who used meal prepping strategies exhibited healthier diets by increasing their food variety and were associated with lower odds of obesity.
Make a Weekly Planner.
This is the most powerful habit out of all the habits listed. Our week should be set up in a way that by the end of it we have accomplished many of the tasks that will ultimately lead us to our immediate, short term, and long term life goals. Our week should not leave us defeated and ready for the weekend just so we can blow off steam and then dread the next week to come.
Taking the time and energy to design your week puts the power back into your own hands. You get to decide what tasks should be prioritized and what tasks you can delegate or remove from your schedule. If your goal is to read more books and develop your skills, block time out on the calendar for it. If your goal is to exercise more and get your health in order, block time out on the calendar for it. If your goal is to spend time with your family and create memories, block time out on the calendar for it! Don't let life rule you, design your life. Also, the calendar is meant to be a guide and not a rigid cage. Life is a dynamic and unpredictable thing. If you end up having to diverge from the schedule, don't beat yourself up about it, assess the schedule and make sure that activity makes sense in that time slot.
Epsom Salt Baths
Nobody has to tell you that taking a bath can relax you, let alone an epsom salt bath, but there are some added benefits to adding this extra goodie while you soak. Epsom Salt is a compound made of Magnesium Sulfate and Water. When you dissolve this compound in your bath you end up with magnesium and Sulfur. Most epsom salts then come with some sort of additive to cover the smell like lavender, menthol, or eucalyptus. Magnesium is a vital mineral for human functioning. Its most popular use in the body is to modulate neurons by blocking specific receptors in the brain leading to decreased excitability. This is why magnesium has a calming effect. Though the efficacy of transdermal magnesium uptake has been shown to be very minute, the mixture of thermo- and aromatherapy can lead to a powerful tool for relaxation and upregulating the parasympathetic nervous system
What sounds like an oxymoron is one of fitness's most powerful tools. Without rest, our tissues and organs do not have a chance to recover, adapt, and prepare for the next challenge. Active rest is the idea of taking a break so you can perform better in the future. It is preventative rest.
Whether this is taking a 5-10 minute break at your desk to stretch and breathe; scheduling 1-2 days off from your exercise routine or walking your dog, leisurely swimming, or going to yoga instead, active rest is a vital component to performance.
None of these habits alone are going to take you from zero to hero. David Brailsford did not focus on just one variable in pursuit of coaching cycling greatness. The magic comes from combining and experimenting with as many variables to build the life you want and achieving the goals you set forth. If you need help with setting and realizing your goals try out these habits; if you still need help, we at Washington Park Chiropractic would love to support you on your journey.
Chase Davidson, DC is a Board Eligible Chiropractic Neurologist and specializes in concussion and sports rehab, as well as functional medicine and immunology. He is the founder of Action Potential - Sports and Neurological Rehab. He also is a member of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation (IAFNR). Stay connected with Dr. Davidson on Linkedin @dr-davidson or on Instagram @washparkchiro or @thatneurologyguy.
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