Breathing for Better Sleep

Many of my clients have sleep apnea, have trouble falling asleep, wake up too early or wake up tense and anxious. This is a concern because a quality night’s sleep is core to optimal self-regulation and productivity. I like to think of masks, machines and medications as last resorts.

I highly recommend a book called “BREATH: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor. It expounds upon the benefits of improving our nasal breathing over mouth breathing and the effects on our daily functioning. Nasal breathing improves oxygen delivery to the body, has a relaxing effect and reduces blood pressure. It can prevent tooth decay.

If you have trouble breathing through your nose, see an otolaryngologist to assess any obstruction and explore possible solutions. Ask your dentist if he knows colleagues who take special interest in sleep problems.

Until then, to help you fall asleep, and assuming that you can breathe through your nose, try:

Lying on your back inhale slowly through your nose for 4 counts (counting in your mind), hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale slowly for 8 counts. I like this method as the internal counting replaces worrisome or racing thoughts. Or, try the basic 5.5 counts inhale and 5.5 counts exhale. You may find that after a few minutes of practice you are dozing off to sleep.

Get your executive functioning skills up to par. Be YOU 2.0 in 2023! Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com    

Memory Practice for Multi-taskers

Many of my COREageous founders are seniors. We know that stress and sleep deprivation at any age can weaken a most valuable cognitive function — working memory — the ability to capture and remember many pieces information while shifting between tasks. But as we age, working memory is the first executive function to break down.

With so little free time available, what is one of the best ways to preserve or enhance working memory?

 A study from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois divided 76 adults into two groups. Group One read engaging books on an iPad for 90 minutes a day, 5 days a week for eight weeks. Group Two played word games and puzzles on an iPad with the same frequency.

The results? Cognitive testing revealed that the reading group showed significant improvements in working memory. The study suggests that regular engaged reading strengthened older adults’ memory skills. Plus, as you get deeper in a book, information accumulates and builds on itself which requires attention and concentration. The increasing load of information challenges your working memory capacity. 

According to Bill Murphy Jr., author of the free e-book Neuroscience: 13 Ways to Understand and Train Your Brain for Life, book reading as a regular activity has significantly dipped from 28% to 19% between 2004 and 2017. This may be due to people reading more headlines and shorter disconnected articles on their phones. See more at www.billmurphyjr.com

A note of personal disclosure: This really works! When I have carved out regular chunks of time in the evening to read, I noticed significant improvements in information recall and the ability to hold on to more information while shifting between tasks. I support daily book reading as a wise investment in your cognitive core.   

Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

Networking with Social Anxiety

Justin, a 50 year-old solopreneur with social anxiety, reached out for advice prior to attending a business education conference. Justin is a computer programmer. He developed a software product to assist math-challenged businesspeople.  His worries:

  • Feeling self-conscious, making small talk
  • Sharing too much information about himself and his product
  • What to wear

I pointed out that Justin was focused too much on himself, as if the spotlight was going to be on him. It’s just not the case. I advised Justin to:  

  1. Attend the conference with the mindset of learning more about his market than advertising his product. Ask open ended questions to get others talking, what brought them to the conference? Where do they see gaps in their clients’ efficiency?
  2. Gravitate to the experts with a list of questions. Prepare a short 15-20 second description of what you do without too much detail. Take notes and collect contact information. Offer your business card with something specific about what you do with a QR code to your website. (Yes, people still like cards!).
  3. What to wear? Not in my wheelhouse but look at the online photos from last year’s conference to get a sense of what to wear. 

Need more help with social anxiety? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com.

A Mindset for Uncertainty

The ultimate form of preparation is not planning for a specific scenario, but a mindset that can handle uncertainty.

These wise words by James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” are particularly noteworthy for COREageous founders. To be prepared for uncertainty is good advice for us all, but for those who battle uncertainty on many levels the right mindset produces better outcomes.

Moving tasks from your to –do lists to your planner can be riddled with uncertainty. Be prepared to adjust to these uncertainties as you plan. These may include:

  • Good intentions vs. realistic commitments
  • Having a prioritization criterion that expedites decision-making
  • Consideration of context – how can our plans take into account people and circumstances around us
  • Having exit strategies from stress
  • Knowing that you may need to shift course if Plan A, B or C  fails.

Need a mindset shift? Contact me at RebeccaShafir@MindfulCommunication.com.

A No Cost Long Term Investment

Hiring employees who are good at relationship-building is a good long-term strategy that can save money and time and sustain an organization, particularly in tough times.  

Good relationships keep teams intact and humming along. It’s good relationships that cultivate customer loyalty no matter how the competition kicks up its game.

Moreover, most employees would rather have a pay cut than leave an organization where relationships were king.  

What are the qualities you should look for in candidates?  Good relationship builders: 

  • enter easily into small talk and segue seamlessly into business topics
  • are positive and curious
  • put their interests aside to learn about others
  • feel comfortable with different perspectives and  healthy conflict

Mindful listening (all the above qualities) is a core element of healthy, enduring relationships.  Have you a team member that could enhance their relationship-building skills? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com  

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