If you feel that you’re not living or working to your potential then these tips to stay sharp from Pat Divily are for you
Author and coach Pat Divilly knows lots about fitness and dexterity of mind and body. The 31-year old has successfully utilized the IT revolution to build his knowledge and his business. And along the way learned some tips to stay sharp.
Today’s work environment places ever increasing demands on us. We are challenged to absorb, analyse and remember increasing amounts of information and prompted to make quick decisions. This requires a brain that is fit, nimble and ever alert.
Pat Divily points to specific actions he took along the journey which had a massive impact on him.
Here’s his six suggestions for people keen to stay sharp and maximize their potential.
- Focus on your why
- Stay in your stretch zone
- Upgrade your free time
- Fuel your body and brain
- Give yourself an oxygen boost
- Press pause regularly
Pat Divily’s tips to stay sharp
Focus on your ‘WHY’
Having a purpose and meaning in life is important, but sometimes we forget ‘why’ it is we do what we do. A friend told me a story of a factory he used to work in where nobody seemed to like their job except for one guy who would arrive every day with a smile on his face. One day my friend asked him why he was so happy. It transpired that the guy loved animals and had an ambition to work in a warm climate in wide-open spaces. Each day at the factory was helping him put money aside to pursue his dream of working in a safari park in Africa. It wasn’t that he loved the work, but he knew the purpose that it served for him.
You only have one life, so dig deep and ask yourself some searching questions:
- What is really important to you?
- What do you want from life?
- Is there any advice would you give your 18-year old self if you could start over again?
Then set out a plan and take the necessary steps, one by one. This clarity may re-enforce your commitment to your current work, or it may prompt you to make changes. Either way it will ensure that you are harnessing your energy and unique capabilities in the direction that has meaning and purpose for you.
I promise it works. I did this a few years ago and it renewed my focus and my motivation to succeed.
Read more: The attitude of gratitude
Stay in your STRETCH zone
Russian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of The Psychology of Optimal Experience believes we spend our time in three different zones, the comfort zone, the panic zone and the stretch zone. When we’re in a routine or rut, we’re in the comfort zone. Doing the same things but often hoping for a different result. Other times we take on a huge amount of change and end up overwhelmed and in the panic zone. This is a stressful place to be and is unsustainable.
The magic zone is the stretch zone, where we grow and develop in a sustainable way that is enjoyable and fulfilling.
Stay in your stretch zone by undertaking courses that broaden your knowledge and capability. Or try a new sport? Perhaps there is a hobby you’ve been longing to take up but haven’t made the time to do so? Or there’s a group (professional or social) that will broaden your horizons offering a wider circle of contacts?
Be brave. Give yourself that stretch, and keep taking small sustainable steps.
Read more: What goals am I chasing?
Upgrade your free time
We’re lucky to live in a world where we have an abundance of information readily available to us. How much time do you spend commuting or just simply scrolling? Could you use this more productively to enhance your knowledge and broaden your intellect?
Listen to inspiring podcasts or informative discussions on live radio. Challenge yourself with a crossword or read up on a topic that interests you or that enriches your expertise.
Making small changes such as these to your day will be transformative over time.
Read more: 5 ways to have a more productive day
Fuel your body and brain to stay sharp
If you are training for a sports event, you fuel your body for optimum performance. Why not do so for your brain every day?
Research shows that the foods that protect the heart are beneficial to the brain, so
- Part fill your plate with at least five vegetables of different colour each day. Buy ‘in season’ and grown locally where possible. These will be fresher and will land on your plate with a smaller environmental footprint. The dark leafy green (kale, spinach and cabbage) and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals deemed to support cognitive function and be neuro-protective.
- Eat oily fish at least twice weekly. Freshly cooked salmon and mackerel, and tinned salmon and sardines are rich in Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs, also known as omega oils). Research has shown that EFAs play a key role in brain development and performance. It’s vital you source them from your diet, as your body does not make them.
If you’re vegan or not a great fan of fish, eat an avocado or a handful of walnuts or olives every day. Alternatively sprinkle seeds (powdered) over your morning cereal, or blend an oil rich in EFAs into your smoothies or drizzle it over your salads and cooked veg. I add Udo’s Choice Oil to my morning smoothie. It’s quick and easy and made from seeds. If travelling I take the capsules.
Adopt these two simple guidelines and you’ll prime your body and your brain to embrace the challenges of your day.
Give your brain an oxygen boost
Numerous scientific studies in recent decades have concluded that aerobic exercise gets the heart pounding and pumps freshly oxygenated blood around the body and brain. This helps boost energy levels and enhances one’s mood, alertness, and cognitive function.
If you already exercise aerobically, well done and keep it up.
Otherwise, choose a form of exercise that you will enjoy doing. If you have struggled with this in the past, ask yourself what was the cause of this? Do you like the outdoors? Will you need company whilst exercising?
Once you have chosen your preferred exercise draw-up a plan that commits you to several sessions at moderate levels over the week. This is better than one weekly burst of heavy-duty exercise. Then build the level over time so for example, if you start with 5 * 15-minute brisk walks per week, extend this to 20 minutes and gradually build up to 30-minute sessions.
Read more: Gerry Hussey’s guided meditation
We live busy lives, our minds churning up to 60,000 thoughts per day. A few years ago, I discovered the benefits of taking 15 minutes out to meditate each morning. My focus improved, my perspective broadened and I became less reactive.
Start by taking five minutes alone to yourself. Choose a comfortable chair in a quiet space. Close your eyes, sit upright with both feet on the ground and just be present. Breathe in and out, feel your body in the chair and your feet on the ground. Think of nothing, just be there. Thoughts will come into your mind; don’t fight them, just observe and let them pass. The same goes for feelings.
When you first start meditating, you may find that your mind seems to get louder. Persevere and after several sessions, you should find it getting easier and your mind becoming less busy.
Gradually build your ‘Pause’ time to 15 minutes and I promise you’ll notice a difference.
Are you up for a challenge?
If any of these suggestions strike a chord, why not grasp the moment and participate in my simple two-week program designed to help you form new empowering habits that support body and brain. Pick up your free Upgrade Your Mindset Challenge booklet in health stores and pharmacies, or visit www.udoschoice.ie to find out more.